Prepare for a stat-heavy story as Tinybuild’s hit mobile and PC boxing management game hits Nintendo Switch.
The story revolves around our hero’s journey to avenge his father’s death. It’s a sort of Fight Club meets Batman meets Rocky with a bunch of 80s and 90s nostalgic jokes and references thrown in for good measure.
Starting out on the streets, you soon find your way to a gym and pick up a trainer. But while boxing is the main focus, Punchclub throws a lot of other decisions your way. Do you buy food in a convenience store or work at a pizza restaurant delivering pizza and getting a discount on your food at the same time, but taking more time out of your training regime?
Stats are a huge part of the game, balancing your stamina and strength against your hunger and a rapidly depleting meter that requires sleep to replenish. You can train at a gym or at home, if you splash out on the equipment, and each has its own benefits, but you’ll need to leave enough time to work and earn money in order to buy food. During all of this, regular fight fixtures occur and you’ll need to take time out to take part in order to climb the ranks.
The game even tasks you with wooing a girl and keeping her happy by ensuring that you spend enough time with her, despite your hectic training and work schedule. Despite all of this, it never feels too overwhelming and there are multiple ways to balance your schedule while advancing enough to make your way into the illegal fight club and to your eventual goal of avenging your father.
The 16-bit style graphics and chip tunes work well here, providing a Megadrive or SNES like feel to the game but twinned with more modern stat-management style gameplay. It feels as if the whole game was made with great affection for the sources alluded to and for the story itself, both in terms of the game and the design.
Punch Club may be very stat management heavy, but it’s also a great story-based game and contains many humorous nods to cult classics from the 80’s and 90’s. The fact that you never get to partake in the fighting might grate on some gamers, there’s certainly a lot of micro-management involved in keeping your character going while building them up for the next challenge, but it works. It has, however, lost some of its edge on a console where faster bite sized gameplay is the norm.
There’s no doubt that Punch Club is very different from the rest of the Switch line-up and it should give management fans something to chew on for a while, but it’s worth checking out for the story as well.