Thursday, September 17, 2020

Super Punch Patrol (NSW) Review

After some fabulous fun with looking at and hyping up some upcoming games for both PlayStation 5 yesterday and Nintendo Switch today, let's take a look at a new game for review on SuperPhillip Central. It's Horberg Productions' Super Punch Patrol. Time to take to the streets and deliver some justice to some bad guys!

A super "sketchy" beat-em-up

The pandemic has been rough on all of us, but out of the chaos can come some good. For instance, Bertil Horberg of Horberg Productions (Gunman Clive, Mechstermination Force) used some of his unplanned quarantine time to develop a brand new game for the Nintendo Switch. Super Punch Patrol is an ode to beat-em-ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage, adding with it a similar and striking sketchbook art style a la his first big hit, Gunman Clive and its sequel. The game is a one-two punch of a lot of style and a little substance to make for an overall fun brawler.

Super Punch Patrol plays like your standard beat-em-up. You move from left to right in side-scrolling stages with multiple stops to the scrolling where enemy thugs must be taken down before you can continue progressing. Levels have multiple rooms and areas to them, such as one level that starts at a warehouse-filled pier before ending on a high action skateboarding romp where you have to juggle attacking enemies while dodging mines on the road. Speaking of enemies, baddies are varied with numerous types, each introduced as the game rolls on. There's the knife-wielding Hogan, no doubt named after the Crocodile Dundee star Paul "Now THAT'S a knife" Hogan, as well as the obese roller Leif, who is so heavy that attempts to throw him will result in your character taking damage. Super Punch Patrol keeps the enemy variety coming from the start of its half-hour runtime to its very conclusion.

If you're familiar at all with the beat-em-up, you'll feel right at home with Super Punch Patrol.

You can choose from three playable characters in Super Punch Patrol, from the well-balanced, to the slow, strong and heavy archetype, to the agile and acrobatic character. Each comes with four unlockable costumes that are earned from finishing runs (game over or through beating the game) and seeing your point tally fill up a bar. When the bar at the end of a session fills up, a costume for one of the three characters becomes available to you, whether a karate outfit for the agile woman character or a chicken suit for the big guy, for instance. 

Regardless of which character you use, your inputs and range of moves are similar. There's one button to pummel foes, and a second to pull off a special crowd control move, but this one takes off health to perform. You also have access to throws, jumps, jump attacks, and quicksteps. Weapons found in crates or dropped from foes can be picked up and used until they break, great for evening the odds--and you'll definitely need to with how often you're likely to see the Game Over screen.

The skaters face off against the bikers on this bridge section of level.

Speaking of game overs, you'll likely experience a lot of these, as tried and true to its inspirations, Super Punch Patrol is a difficult game. There are four modes to choose from challenge-wise, each offering a different level of difficulty with how many lives you begin with and how many points you need to earn a life. The challenge isn't totally of a fair kind either, as enemies will often gang up on you, and they can attack from off screen as well, particularly Hogan and Leif, who can chuck a knife and roll into you from beyond the edges of the screen, respectively. 

Further, it doesn't really seem like the game is balanced for how many players you have. Whether in single player or with a second player, the number of enemies that you face is the same. Finally, another annoyance with playing single player is that if you lose all of your lives--and of course still have a credit to use--you must start from the beginning of the level. This is unlike multiplayer where players can jump back in if their life count goes to zero. It made me notice how many lives I had at the start of a level, and if I only had one or two, I purposefully died just to restart the level early on, or worse yet, it stopped me from wanting to play a level over again completely when I lost my last life at the boss.

"Mind saving me, Anders? I don't like hanging out in this case."

Super Punch Patrol features what has grown to be a Horberg Productions staple: an animated sketchbook art style, and it looks as amazing as it did in the Gunman Clive games, if not better. Characters are highly detailed and animate well. The game runs at a nice frame-rate, too, as smooth as a morning shave with a fresh razor. Regarding sound, the music is suitably rock and percussion, and characters exclaim numerous synth yells and groans that sound sharp and surprisingly never grating. 

As a pure beat-em-up, Super Punch Patrol does not pull any punches. It doesn't necessarily add anything to the genre, but for a genre so beloved as the beat-em-up, what is necessary to even add? Plus, it doesn't even matter when the gameplay and presentation have both been implemented so well. Beyond the one bug we encountered like a one-time scripting bug in two-player where the screen would not scroll after all of the enemies were eliminated, forcing my brother and I to wait out the clock to our dooms, Super Punch Patrol is terrific in its execution. And for five bucks, you'll get at least an hour per dollar here. 

[SPC Says: B-]

A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

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