Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Street Punch is a game that reveals itself over time. At first its mix of disparate mechanics feels confusing and random. However, these parts eventually combine into a unique, creative whole.
At first glance, Street Punch just seems like a pretty straightforward beat-em-up. Players drag a hotshot police officer around a cartoony, colorful 3D city infested with punks ripped right out of an 80s buddy cop movie. Just when swiping on enemies to punch them gets boring though, players get a gun and suddenly the game becomes a top-down shooter. Tapping on enemies to target them isn't that accurate, but foes are big and it's not like virtual joysticks are that much better. However, soon players become overwhelmed with so many opponents that singlehandedly demolishing the enemy hideout at the end of the map is almost impossible. What's a good cop to do now?
The answer is call for backup. What Street Punch's early (and fairly tedious) tutorial levels fail to explain is that the game is actually a side-scrolling real-time strategy game like Swords and Soldiers or Ancient War. Players spawn units like regular beat cops, buff enforcers, precise snipers, and even a SWAT team to aid them in this war on crime. Players can also upgrade their units and watch the militarization of the police happen in real time. But units tend to be underpowered, especially once bad guys start upgrading too, so it's still up to the players to lead the offensive with multiple gun types, melee weapons like batons, and even healing spells. With multiplayer, this might've even been considered a MOBA.
However, while it’s easy to pick out all these different genre tropes in retrospect, Street Punch's presentation does a great job of making the game feel like a distinct, unified whole in the moment. The swooping motions the camera makes as it tracks players across detailed, winding urban streets is a cool dynamic touch. It's too bad then that out of the sixty levels there are only 15 different environments spread across the three worlds. Luckily the gameplay is good enough to trump the padding.
Despite a slow, misleading start, Street Punch proves to be a fun and fresh action/strategy cocktail. Don't fight the power, fight as the power.