Punch Club (iOS, PC)

PUNCH_BOXPunch Club is a pretty unique boxing game. Play as a boxer and eat, train, and work to become the best pugilist in town in this simulation game that feels similar to “Tycoon” titles or virtual pet games.  It’s kind of like Tamagotchi meets Rocky.  “Tama-Rocky” (yeah I made that up myself).  Punch Club is available for iOS devices and Steam, but reviewed on iPad here.

Punch Club actually has a story. As a kid, your father was a boxer but was gunned down by criminals.  Now that you’re old enough, you can follow in your dad’s footsteps as a boxer and maybe even find out why he was killed.  The game has kind of a point and click adventure interface in that you tap on the screen to tell your boxer where you want him to go.  Keep an eye on his stats so he doesn’t get too hungry or tired.  Tap on the fridge in your apartment so he can eat, and tap on the couch and he’ll sleep.

You can travel to other places in the city, too, like a pizza joint, construction site, gym, grocery store, and more. You’ll need money to buy food, gym membership, and other things, so you can work at the construction site for money.  Spend the money you earn on food to eat and the gym fees mostly.  When you go to the gym, click on equipment to work out and build up stats like strength, agility, and stamina.  Keep training, though, because if you stop for a while, your stats will gradually go down again.  If you run out of money, you can still do push-ups in your apartment to train and your mentor will feed you for free, but you won’t progress the story as fast, or at all.

When you are ready, you can sign up for boxing matches against other opponents. On the day of the match, make sure you are as strong as you can get, and get ready to box.  You don’t control your character directly, but you assign moves into slots for him to use, such as punches, blocks, dodges, and even kicks (guess this is mixed martial arts).  You’ll need to use strategy to assign the right moves in the right situations and also how you’re training.  If you win, you’ll earn coins that you can spend on new moves.  You might also run into criminals at stores that you can battle in the same way, or participate in shady underground street fights as well.

Everything is time-based, but luckily the schedule is pretty lax. You can work and train any time you want, but the matches are always at the end of whatever day you signed up for them.  Working and sleeping takes time away from the day, though, as well as walking from location to location on the map (you can take a bus, but it costs money).  The game also has a ‘choose your own adventure’ branching story tree, depending on what choices you make. Do you dare work at the shady pizza place for money, or try performance-enhancing “magic potions” from the sporting goods store?

While I liked the unique style of the game and the retro pixelated 16-bit graphics and chiptune music, the game does have some problems. They kind of dump you into the game without much warning on things, and I would’ve liked to have been able to spend more time training and figuring out the game mechanics before matches.  And everything takes too much time in the in-game clock.  I know that’s supposed to represent not having enough time in a day to do everything, but it gets a little monotonous.  But if you enjoy unique boxing games, you may want to try it anyway.  It’s fairly inexpensive to dowload, and there aren’t any in-game purchases at all!


Kid Factor:

The game has violence in the form of fighting and shooting, and there is some mild blood, but the retro-styled visuals keep anything from looking too gory and graphic. There is some light cursing in the text, and the game deals with adult themes like crime, alcohol, drugs, etc.  It’s probably best enjoyed by teens and adults, but I imagine some mature preteens may be OK with the game, too.  If you’re fine with your kids watching Rocky movies, they may be all right with this game as well.

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