Have you ever wanted to punch a bear in the mouth? This is the burning question asked by the hilarious, and appropriately named, team at “I Fight Bears” and their debut game called “Fist of Awesome.” Founded through a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2012, this pixelated bear-smashing scrolling beat-em-up won the interest of gamers across the world, who helped to raise more than 200% of its original goal! That, of course, was incredible news for any Kickstarter title in development, and in my opinion, a very worthy investment. This scrolling beat-em-up has a great sense of humour and is easily enjoyable for people looking to take out their aggression on nature!
The story begins with our hero (ironically) named Tim Burr; a lumberjack celebrating with his family in his front yard. In a blink of an eye, however, his loved ones disappear and his timber-built homestead is in flames without explanation. Suddenly, one of his hands unexpectedly grows bigger and starts explained what just occurred. His fist reveals an entirely new history: everything that Tim knew has been rewritten, and bears are now the dominant species above man. Hence, Tim and his awesome fist embark on an adventure through time to defeat all bears and restore humanity.
The storyline in Fist of Awesome is incredibly fun, and, unsurprisingly, filled with lots of hilarious bear puns throughout. Often, I was literally laughing out loud at the conversations between Tim and his fist; it helped to keep the story moving forward, as well as providing a deeper insight to the characters personalities.
At its core, the game is a basic side-scroller with an entry point on the left, and then an exit point on the right so the player can advance. I’d assume the developer went with this particular direction in order to keep any distractions to a minimum, and, in turn, put most of the emphasis on combat, as well as the artwork in the backdrops that are filled bear jokes and the rewritten history. I was surprised there was a lack of pickups, such as health packs and upgrades, which are commonplace in many retro brawlers. I was pleased, however, to see health bars above enemies as it helps to know what bear is a greater threat, as well as to assist with your battle plan when facing a crowd of grizzlies.
The gameplay is pretty much like every beat-em-up imaginable, with strong influences from games such as Double Dragon and Streets of Rage. The arcade-like controls are simple, yet boast a good variety of moves and throws to keep the bear brawling exciting and fun. After punching, kicking, stomping and performing jump kicks into a plethora of bear mouths, your health begins to regenerate from either attacking enemies or simply by avoiding taking damage.
A big plus is the convenient support for both USB and bluetooth controllers. In my opinion, the game feels as if it were made for a gamepad as the movement and combat felt both responsive and accurate. A neat feature is the ability to level-up the lumberjack after each stage as you can use upgrade points to increase things such as health, power, and most importantly, speed. Forewarning, he is quite slow when moving in the beginning.
Once you have completed the game, and feel like destroying more evil bears, you can take your new skills into the arena mode where you compete against the clock for high scores and other challenges. To score points, you must complete battle tasks such as combos, taking zero damage for 60 seconds, and many more. The additional arena mode definitely adds more replay value to an already enjoyable story campaign, as well as mixing more combat mechanics with different character selections and extra challenges.
Overall, the pixelated art-style is both colourful and fun for the eyes, each stage has its own unique theme in mind, and there was no cutting corners as each of the backdrops have a distinctive look and appeal. The animation is spot on with its choice of minimal frames, and luckily, it doesn’t affect the combat mechanics of impact or timing. The soundtrack is very nostalgic and retro by design; it made for a much more amusing time beating up bears with its enriching chip-tune style. The sound effects are very unique and original as it seems the team has created their own flair with the sound design such as manly groans when fly kicking and curious animal sounds to name a few.
Fist of Awesome is a funny ride from beginning to end, full of bear humour and puns galore. It’s not a perfect beat-em-up by any means, but it’s still a game which should hook fans of the genre with its solid gameplay and colourful vibe. The foremost goal for Fist of Awesome is thrashing bears and other animals with a smile, and, in my opinion, I believe the team at “I Fight Bears” have certainly accomplished that. Punching bears in the mouth has never been more fun!
Please Note: This review was based on the PC version of the game, and provided to us by the developer for the purpose of review.