Fist of Awesome Hands-On Preview
The tagline for developer I Fight Bears is “Games for people with beards”. While this may not be strictly enforced, it was probably good that I hadn’t shaved before laying hands on their successful Kickstarter-funded title, Fist of Awesome.
Described by developer Nicoll Hunt as “a time-travelling lumberjack-em-up” – a genre he claims to have researched before development and found surprisingly underpopulated – Fist of Awesome can perhaps more informatively described as a side-scrolling beat-em-up, inspired by classics such as Double Dragon, Final Fight and Renegade.
The game places you in the boots of lumberjack Tim Burr, who for reasons too random to explain ends up in an alternate timestream where bears have become the dominant species. Fixing things is thankfully helped by his hand, which has become self-aware and is giving him advice… even if in practical terms the hand is most useful hitting things. A lot.
The inspiration from 80s and 90s beat-em-ups is clear – in the deliberately pixellated graphics (Hunt compares this to South Park – simpler design allowing more character to come through, with the blanks filled in by the viewer’s imagination) and chiptune soundtrack; and with the actual combat mechanics. If it worked in the 80s, it’ll probably work here – jump kicks to knock groups of enemies down, strikes stunning them and allowing grabs and throws to be performed, and so on.
The setting is very much in homage to those 80s games too – the slums of a city being a key setting for so many old titles, although very few of those populated them with punk bears. Screenshots hint at later areas including other classic scenes including tube trains, parks and castles, along with the slightly more specific Jurassic era to fight a few dinosaurs for good measure.
Absurdest humour is a big part of the game – as well as the bear-themed enemies and settings, there is the occasional dialogue between Burr and his (more intelligent than he is) hand, as well as truly random pieces… seeing a sign reading “Warning: Tetchy Deer”, before being attacked by a gang of the bipedal ungulates for one (very, very early) example.
The version played was on an iPad, with the controls doing what I would have considered near impossible and mapping out a joypad’s controls fairly well onto a touch screen. Dragging and holding on the left side of the screen controlled movement, while taps and swipes on the right handle the combat – and it works far better than it sounds.
Of course, playing with a joypad may feel more natural, although this will be an option due to the game also coming to the Ouya and Gamestick on release. An updated version is due to follow later for PC and Mac, with the earlier releases due to be updated to match the new features added for desktop machines.
Fist of Awesome is due for release on 17th October for iOS, Android, Ouya and Gamestick; PC and Mac versions are due to follow in “winter 2013″