There are a fair number of fighting games on the App Store such as Smack Boxing and Fist of Fury, but Punk Justice stands apart with plentiful content and well-implemented controls. But beyond the familiar dodging and punching, balance issues and a frustrating level of difficulty may make this game inaccessible to all but the hardiest of fight fans.
In Punk Justice, you play as Jed, who spends his time fighting gangs to keep the city’s parks safe. Controls feature two buttons each to punch and dodge, with responsiveness that works better than other games in the genre, although still could use some cleaning up. Opponents also dodge and punch, adding a bit of a challenge. Combat includes special combos, which allow the player to unleash a deadly blow. A power meter helps to cut down on the button mashing, as it depletes every time you attack and replenishes when you stop.
There are two gameplay modes. Campaign runs you through four distinct parks, each with a set of nine enemies. Once you defeat an enemy, he or she is crossed off. On the flipside, losing will bring back one random enemy. The potential to lose quite frequently can be extremely unforgiving at times. Quick Fight mode which allows you to pick the conditions of your fight and play for fun.
Four different fight styles add some variety to really make the game shine. Normal is an all-out brawl. Endurance sets a 30-second time limit to dodge attacks, with Timed requiring you to defeat the enemy in the same amount of time. Double is a combination of the latter two. In the campaign, these come up randomly and you must choose your opponent wisely in order to succeed. Choosing an opponent comes down to a matter of matching up speed vs. power and offense vs. defense. The corresponding ratios incorporate a bit of strategy when determining your opponent.
He’s here to rob my train.
Rival gang members are no slouches–Even when fighting the lowest-ranked enemy you must be on your full guard. Newcomers may find themselves struggling to win for a while, and the game’s unforgiving nature and steep learning curve will scare away casual gamers quickly. Losing in campaign mode can cripple your progress and punches from enemies are difficult to spot due to unreasonably fast movements. Difficulty can be a good thing, but being too unforgiving is unacceptable when it comes to the average consumer.
Developer wastedyuthe even went so far as to post a strategy guide on his blog on how to beat the fight sequences, which breaks down to the following: If you lean to one side there is a 100 percent chance that the opponent’s next punch will go there, so you can easily spot it and dodge it on the other side. Unleashing a combo does require some skill, but there is definitely a sense of button mashing. But it might just be something you need to get used to.
Shortcomings aside, Punk Justice should appeal to fans of the genre. Newcomers and casual gamers should be cautious, though.