Back in 1998, fighting game fans were spoilt for choice. You had the superb Street Fighter Alpha 3 tearing up the scene, Soul Calibur had just made a big splash and Guilty Gear was also getting started. But out of all the games in the genre, Destrega clearly stood out for being an experimental and mad stab at doing something.
It was a fighting game that could take place from any distance, allowing players to widen the divide between them and their opponent with an arsenal of ranged attacks while also having a meaty up close and personal focus when you wanted to close the gap. The reason why I’m thinking of a 22 year-old game currently, is because Fly Punch Boom! is ringing all sorts of nostalgia bells in my head with its system of short and long distance action.
While it has hints of Nintendo’s Smash Bros. series in its DNA as well, Fly Punch Boom is more a celebration of the type of madcap one on one brawling that you’d expect from the season finale episode of your favourite shonen anime. You’re basically given free reign within a two-dimensional arena, with your movements roundhouse-kicking Sir Isaac Newton and his laws of gravity right in the face as you dash around the massive square like a fly on steroids when you’re about to eat fish.
Combat boils down to one of two phases: You’re either dashing around the outskirts of the flexible arena looking for a meteor to hurl at your opposition with a well-placed haymaker, or you’re getting within social anti-distancing length so that you can hammer away at your rival in a quick-time event. The problem here though, is that a melee smackdown lacks any real nuance, with victory coming to those players who have the quickest reflexes.
Reflex speed which needs you to siphon energy from the Speed Force, as Fly Punch Boom’s meal ticket action unfolds at a blistering pace. This also relies on a rock-paper scissors mechanic to succeed in this fist-based grapple, where you’ll need to apply some tactical thinking to come out on top. On top of that, you’re also dealing with satellite moves such as avoiding an instant-death follow-up if you fail a clash encounter, preserving your health from a distance with super moves and keeping an eye open for power-ups that can give you an edge.
In any other fighting game, this alone would make for some great core mechanics over the length of a regular match, but in Fly Punch Boom it’s an experience that unfolds within seconds. I don’t care how big and well-oiled your brain is, that is a ton of gameplay to balance and understand within a too small gap of time, with the end result being an absolutely frantic button-smasher in the simplistic arcade mode on offer.
In online mode, it’s even worse because you’re A) unlikely to even find anyone willing to challenge you the QTE elements feel absolutely alien to use within this genre. It’s a pity, because Fly Punch Boom is a damn fine idea on paper that happens to be flawed in its execution. The visuals may be simplistic but they never drop a single vital frame of information and they’re only hamstrung by how lost your eyeballs will be when you’re trying to keep an eye on your chosen fighter when the action expands into space.
Last Updated: June 15, 2020