App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Fighting games designed specifically for iOS have about a fifty-fifty chance of success. Which is to say that whether or not it’s a complete dud is sort of up in the air. Touch and tilt controls can work pretty well, but they have to be super precise if they’re going to be anything but a hindrance in this genre. Puncho Fighto’s controls certainly aren’t what I’d call “super precise,” but they work well enough and the mechanics have been simplified a bit to account for this. It dials back the complexity in favor of accessibility, but it also wraps everything up in a quirky and endearing package. So, while it’s not going to blow any fighting game fan’s mind, it might still put a smile on their face.
The premise behind Puncho Fighto’s story is too bizarre to get into. Suffice it to say that each of the handful of playable characters has their own reason to fight, and it’s usually pretty funny to read about. The fights themselves are entirely touch-based with tapping, swiping, and dragging used to move and attack. Different inputs will result in different moves depending on the character with some being better at range and others at close-quarters. There are also a few various difficulties to try out if the default proves to be too easy (or tough).
While Puncho Fighto’s controls might take some getting used to, it doesn’t take all that long. Soon players will be flinging themselves at their opponents and unleashing a flurry of fists (or possibly flippers) without much thought. Most of the characters have a similar list of moves (i.e. swipe forward to lunge, etc) so jumping between them is hardly a hassle, but they’re all different enough that players will probably find themselves favoring one above the others. I personally prefer Zong, despite his lack of a grab, simply because he’s a robot. And his ground pound is funny.
Despite being easy to learn, Puncho Fighto is still a tad on the simple side. Most of the more contemporary staples of the genre such as counters and reversals are totally absent. The simplicity of the fighting system go hand-in-hand with the less orthodox control scheme, but that probably won’t prevent seasoned veterans from finding it to be too basic. I’ve also noticed some slight inaccuracies with the inputs but that’s to be expected when it comes to drawing shapes on a touch screen. Although that knowledge doesn’t make performing the wrong move at the wrong time any less irritating.
While Puncho Fighto isn’t all that complex or deep, it’s entertaining. It’s got a goofy style and it’s just crazy enough to be fun. And it’s just fun enough to soak up a few minutes here and possibly an hour or two there.