Developer: Spellgun Studios
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The idea of slapping a puzzle game into the middle of some other genre isn’t new. Just look at something like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo or the beloved Puzzle Quest series. However, the way in which puzzlePunch! so deeply entwines its two genres is not only new but also a ton of fun.

Basically, puzzlePunch! is a fighting game where all actions are activated via a match-three puzzle game. For example, if players want to punch, kick, charge up a special move or even walk forward enough for their attacks to hit, they will have to match three of the appropriate icons. The end result feels more like a real-time strategy game and the emphasis on carefully planning moves in advance is quite refreshing in a world full of mobile button-mashers. Knowing when to use a range attack over a punch really matters. Also, the random tiles that make up the puzzle space ensure that every match feels different. Players can pre-select a limited amount of moves at the beginning but for the most part they will never know exactly what options they are going to get.

Too bad some of the creativity of the design didn’t cross over into the rest of the presentation. There are only three modes: single player practice, local multiplayer, and online multiplayer. The four fighters and their slightly different play styles add a decent amount of variety but there is definitely room for more. As for the art style, while the 8-bit gangster look evokes nice memories of River City Ransom and Urban Champion, something about the color palette looks too muted for such an otherwise crazy game.  

Regardless, puzzlePunch! is further proof that two great tastes really do go great together. It puts such a neat and interesting spin on both fighting games and puzzle games that fans of either genre should check it out.

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

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