You’re not ready for Fly Punch Boom. No really, you’re not. You might think you were born to play a game that essentially throws you into an anime royal rumble, but neither your eyes nor your reactions are up to the task. Not yet. It’s going to take time to acclimatise to Fly Punch Boom’s level of madcap hyper-kinetic arena-brawler action. Thankfully, it’s well worth the effort, and you’ll have a lot of fun in the process.
Imagine a game of Smash Bros. where every character was a super-powered free-flying Demi-god, capable of flicking meteors into the face of their opponents like they were cherry stones. Now imagine that close-up combat was determined by a variety of QTE-driven face-offs and a paper-scissors-stone attack system. That’s Fly Punch Boom.
Each stage is constrained by four vast lengths of luminous stretchy material and populated by a bizarre combination of space whales, towering skyscrapers and floating pyramids. The art style is way out there beyond Cartoon Network territory in tone, if not quite detail. Flying around these cosmic wrestling rings is as easy as tilting the left Joy-Con stick, with a press of B applying the afterburners. Fly into your opponent and you can wail on them by hammering Y. Press Y immediately prior to contact, however, and you’ll enter a kind of clinch QTE, where the timing of your button presses and the nature of your attack (punch beats throw beats counter beats punch) will determine who comes out on top.
There are further button prompts required to take evasive manoeuvres after losing such a clash, and to avoid an ‘instant finishing move’-like death if you find yourself punted into the barrier or some outlandish item of level furniture. You can also opt to keep your enemy at a distance, using Y to bash chunks of scenery in their direction.
Individual super moves can be accessed through ZR just as soon as you collect two shining power-ups, and you can also teleport out of harm’s way and tag in a teammate with ZL. It’s a lot to take in. Now consider that each one of these mechanics could come into play in a single five-second snippet of play. There’s barely time to think in Fly Punch Boom, let alone press the requisite buttons.
Once you do get a handle on the game’s mechanics, you’ll realise it’s really only suited to local competition. Single-player is merely a simple procession of arcade encounters, and the whole competitive QTE element doesn’t prove all that compelling when AI is involved. At the other end of the scale, we struggled to find an online game.
Even with all that accepted, we suspect many will bounce off Fly Punch Boom due to its frenetic pace. It’s genuinely difficult to keep up with all the button prompts, especially as they’re constantly changing their orientation on the screen. There’s no anchor or reference point for your eye to fall back to, which can leave you floundering. But if you really stick at it and warm to its zany tone, you’ll discover a bracingly fresh and empowering couch multiplayer brawler.