Punch Club

The Game

Punch Club developed by Lazy Bear Studios and published by tinyBuild is a pixel graphics fighting simulation game. With elements reminiscent of Sims and loads of references to cult classic films there’s quite a bit to unpack with this game. The game has a fairly simple and straightforward gameplay loop consisting of training to level up your stats, working to earn cash and fighting your way to becoming champion of the world (technically you watch your character fight).

Every day you will have to balance exercise, work and other tasks to progress, at the end of every day you will lose a significant chunk of your stats. There are three main attributes that you can develop – strength (red), agility (blue) and stamina (green). Different gym equipment will level you up at different speeds, exercise too long on one piece of equipment and you’ll start earning less points, so make sure to change up your routine as soon as that happens. Your stats tie in to your fighting abilities and skills. After each fight you will learn skill points which can be spent learning new skills, moves or perks. As if all of that wasn’t enough you also have to ensure you’ve got enough food, energy and happiness each day. In the early game finding the balance between working to earn money and training is particularly difficult, so you’ll probably be stuffing yourself with frozen pizzas for quite some time.

The story focuses on a character who dreams of becoming a great fighter and avenging his father’s death. As you become a better fighter more elements to the story will unfold, as well as some side-stories, which actually get pretty weird after a while. The game world is packed with references to movies like Fight Club, Rocky, The Simpsons, John Wick and even Jay and Silent Bob (if you look outside the store) and some truly beautiful pixel art.

Worth it?

This isn’t an easy game. Especially the early game can be particularly hard as you balance working, training and fighting. Once you start to unlock better jobs, some home equipment and more skills things begin to get a bit easier and the game starts to click. The mid-game (from Din Kong) onwards begins to get a bit easier, however it is also worth noting that this is an extremely grindy game. While losing some stats every day makes sense and is an established mechanic it also makes the game really hard and you will be spending an extremely long time levelling up your stats (especially for the final fights). While it is quite punishing, it also makes for a good challenge. Some story lines will also present you with choices which will affect them, potentially making completion for those story lines unachievable.

You can get the game for around £1.50 on sale, which is absolutely worth it. The game provides a good challenge, is wonderfully aesthetic, has an interesting story and loads of film references to keep you going. It will take you quite a few hours to complete your first playthrough and you may be tempted to do a second one after (maybe even a speedrun). The sound track can get a bit repetitive after hours of grinding and the game itself can get a bit repetitive and grindy towards the end, but other than that it is quite difficult to fault it. If you see the game on sale, grab it.

Tips

  • In the early game meat is the most effective cost per food item, however pizza is better at recovering your health
  • Making money is only difficult in the early game – focus on getting your own equipment at home so as to avoid the daily cost of the gym
  • The skip attack skills is very useful if you are draining your energy very quickly
  • Adapt your strategy from round to round – try out different moves, counters and defensive moves
  • Fights will teleport you directly to the location so you can save yourself the walking
  • Keep skills just above a level if the day is about to tick over, so you can easily get it back up again at the start of the new day
  • Focus on unlocking the extra skill slots early in the skill tree
  • Look ahead at what gets you where in the skill tree, plan ahead
  • Once you are living with Din Kong focus on upgrading daily allowance asap, money will also become a trivial concern pretty quickly then
  • You can collect the prize from Mickey in the trailer park twice
  • Skill unlock cost caps at 25
  • The flower locations for Adrian are: Roy’s garden, the Warehouse, the Bar, Mick’s office and your house
  • Check out the wiki for more tips/tricks

Useful Links

MMA Manager

The Game

MMA Manager by Prey Studios is a mobile game based around running an MMA gym and building a roster of fighters. The game let’s you build and customise your gym, the equipment you choose will let you train your fighters in different disciplines. Of course you’ll need trainers and coaches as well to boost specific stats from each discipline. You can set your fighters to train for either a short or long period of time (minutes or hours).

Once you’re confident in your fighters ability you can take them to the arena and choose from a selection of fight modes. Campaign provides a good challenge but little rewards, whereas the quick match gives a somewhat decent reward and if you have a good fighter you can go on some good winning streaks. Tournaments consists of a series of fights at various time intervals – a few hours apart. They offer a great payout if you can make it to the end. Gym fights are 7v7 mode where you take on other player’s gyms – the matchmaking on these feels a little imbalanced and you also want to make sure most of your fighters are the same level.

The game offers some great gym customisation options and potential for upgrades. Fighters also feature a talent tree that you can unlock as you level them up. There are 3 main “special” martial arts – BJJ, Wrestling and Muay Thai, they allow you to upgrade the most stats. There are also more specific routines for less stats upgraded. This is where the short and long training sessions are useful. If you are looking to be fairly active, do a few fights, check back in the gym – then you can set a short training sessions. If you’re going to be offline for a while, use the long ones. Before each fight you will get an overview of your opponent and you can adapt your strategy going into the fight. The fights themselves can be quite fun to watch and can deliver some pretty exciting results (the fighters are not player controlled), but there is a skip option should you get bored of them.

Worth it?

The gatcha element isn’t too bad on this one, you can get on fine without needing to worry about premium currency and while cashflow can be a bit challenging at times, a good winning spree and completing daily quests can help in that department.

Overall the gameplay can get a bit repetitive, it’s also an always online so you won’t be able to play it without internet. Initial progress can be quite fast before hitting the first major hurdles. Other than that however it offers a good deal of gameplay and a nice element of strategy, as well customisation. It’s worth it if you’re looking to play a few active sessions a day and it’ll keep you coming back for a good while, but will eventually begin to feel a bit repetitive.

Tips

  • Avoid Gym vs Gym unless most of your characters are around the same level (you will need 7 to do this)
  • Check and ensure that the trainers you hire will work with any equipment as well as actually contribute to the fighter’s stats (after a while a fighter will outgrow the trainer and will no longer gain stats)
  • Leaving a player idle for a while will give them a training boost – this allows you to receive double stats awards on short trainings
  • Buy decoration for your gym as it’s the best way to get prestige – more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more prestige
  • When fighting other players – look at the types of hits they’ve made the most of statistically and block/defend against those.

Useful Links