Home Gaming Gamescom Hands-on: Spiky punch in Pass the Punch

Gamescom Hands-on: Spiky punch in Pass the Punch

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In an era where every old video game is being remastered, where every installment of every franchise is brought back to life through the power of nostalgia. Brace yourselves for a game inspired by all those other old games, in which you get to punch a ball of ramen noodles and a one-eyed crab in the guts.

Pass the Punch comes to us from Sumo Digital, a UK studio that has a had a hand in some notable releases over the past year, such as Team Sonic Racing and Crackdown 3. The game started out in life as a submission to an in-house studio game contest. Finding internal success with his idea, game creator David Dino set about creating the Capcom-style button masher:

It initially started off as a pixel art, 2D fighter. We then started throwing ideas around in terms of how we envisioned the game, with the character movements and designs being inspired by 90s Anime. Even though they have a Western ‘cartoony’ feel to them.

At the surface, Pass the Punch certainly looks that way. A by-the-numbers fighting game with very colourful visuals and a light-hearted ambience. The story takes place in a city whose citizens have the ability to transform into powerful caricatures of themselves. Leading the charge is gym owner Rush, who harnesses strength from a set of boxing gloves. And Claud, a LARPer who comes to their aid with the help of his foam sword (the sign of a true RPG title). Along with a small selection of other heroes, Rush and Claud take on all kinds of nasty foes, usually taking the form of some foodstuff (a flying bottle of hot wing sauce. I like that). There are power-ups, extra lives, and you even get to play a few rounds of basketball.

It was very easy to get into Pass the Punch. Controls are straightforward with the platform being easy to navigate and pass through. The progression is straightforward too: Work you your way up to the final bosses by way of multiple minions and defeat them using a selection of special, well-animated manoeuvres. Players are able to progress with the choice of just one or all of the playable characters, with progression not tied to their capabilities. There are also a variety of mini-games to play that breaks up the story mode and to me, add an extra level of fun especially when you’re playing co-op. According to David:

It’s similar to the platforming in Smash Bros. in that it’s more function over form. But ideally that gives us enough break-up between the combat that you play. There’s no real wrong way to play it too. If you just want to keep juggling somebody, then that’s completely fine.

It will have to be seen whether Pass the Punch have sufficient levels of longevity and engagement to appeal to the larger gaming audience. But I do see this title going down well particularly on the Nintendo Switch, and there is the chance of expanded content should it well throughout. It’s light-hearted fun with unique characters and laid-back gameplay that should prove entertaining at the LANs. You can also see the passion that went into it, not masked by trying to be something evolutionary and thereby setting unreachable expectations. It’s just a fun game.

Pass the Punch will be coming to PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in late 2019.

Last Updated: August 29, 2019

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