Super Punch Patrol
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Hand-drawn hand to hand combat has never been this fun or frustrating. However, the devil is in the details, so is Super Punch Patrol that budget brawler you’ve been waiting or just a Streets of Rage wannabe desperate for your wallet?
PUNCH PATROL IS ON A ROLL!
If the art style didn’t give it away from the start, SPP is from the same developer (Horberg Productions) of the Gunman Clive series from the 3DS. Players assume the roles of one of three characters with each playing and feeling a bit different. Nils, is your all-around brawler, with Selma gifted with a bit more speed to channel her inner Blaze Fielding and Anders Punch (the police chief) embodying Hagger in every sense of the name. The story won’t win you over as there is none to really speak of. The eShop gives an abridged synopsis that sounds no different than any classic beat ‘em up. The city is overrun with crime and it’s up to Anders and his aptly titled Punch Patrol to clean the city up. To be fair, if you pick up a brawler for the story, you are a better person than most as the buy-in is in the action.
From a control standpoint, SPP is solid. You have your punch (won’t be the last time you read that word) jump and special. As has been standard for a very long time, your special move comes at the cost of a bit of your life bar so use it judiciously. Double-tapping forward to run gives you a rush attack which is essential in escaping the mobs that do their best to surround you at every opportunity. Little touches like Selma being unable to grapple slam some of the more rotund baddies is a nice touch. Unfortunately, all that shimmers is not gold. In the case of SPP, the combat while engaging and fun is also heavily geared towards the enemies. Often you will be mid-combo and get interrupted by an enemy that appears from off-screen or even drops in on you. This extends to the animations as well. Often you will finish a slam and be stuck in an animation where you are in the air unable to do anything and will get attacked by enemies who can take a sizeable chunk of your life bar. There were even instances during the third level BOSS BATTLE where our protagonist was actually juggled on a rock that was tossed negating any attacks for that life. Frustrating, absolutely but not a deal-breaker.
THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD
Visually, this is the pen to paper style made famous by Gunman Clive. The sepia tones have been replaced with a black and white level design with your character or characters in coop being drawn in a blue. The magenta hued enemies are unmistakable making everything clean and easy to read when the fists fly and barrels break. The enemy variety is decent with some of the enemies in later levels being quite hilarious… until they start slamming you about ala the Hulk when he first met Loki. The bosses are an assortment of oddities and each possess their own patterns to learn. Level variety is good but feels very much the same due to the black and white aesthetic. The streets look the same as the sewers which look like the club etc. What’s drawn gives it personality but you will be hard-pressed to find the time to enjoy the details with the enemies constantly bearing down on you.
Audio-wise, SPP is your standard fare. The sound effects are well placed and do the job of conveying the carnage that is being portrayed. The soundtrack is the star here. Everything about it harkens back to a simpler time of brawlers.
While Super Punch Patrol provides a retro feeling it still comes off fresh. The added character moans and groans were a nice touch and show an attention to detail often overlooked by more expensive titles. Speaking of price, that is the key to the value here. SPP is a $4.99 game that has all the content of a full-fledged title. While there is no online play, we were given online leaderboards which make every run a competition against the world as well as the bosses. While the game does suffer from some infuriating old school arcade cheat tactics from the enemies, on the whole this is a solid brawler with limitless replayability if dominating the leaderboards is your type of thing.