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Super Punch Patrol: A Beautiful Brawler with a Problematic Plot

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved Battletoads. I was terrible at it, but it was one of my favorite games because it felt so punk rock to be these badass dudes with attitude, punching your way through hoards of enemies.

Since then, I’ve played a lot of games in the beat-em-ups and brawler genre, and I’ve loved them all. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Scott Pilgrim, Castle Crashers, Final Fight, Fighting Force, 99Vidas… they were all great, ridiculous, over-the-top action games that didn’t ask you to think about what you were doing. You just button-mash your way through every bizarre stereotype of an enemy that popped up in your face.

This month, a new developer entered the gritty streets of the brawler genre with Super Punch Patrol on the Nintendo Switch. Hörberg Productions previously made the Gunman Clive games and Mechstermination Force. All of which were sweet indie titles that exude style, craftsmanship, and a love of video games, and Super Punch Patrol fits right in with that pedigree.

Characters In Super Punch Patrol

If you’ve played beat ‘em ups before, this game is incredibly easy to pick up and play. You pick one of three characters, each with a few unlockable costumes. You start wailing on enemies using regular and super attacks, along with a jump and dodge. You break barrels to pick find diamonds that give you bonus points, weapons that make you wail harder, and cake the helps refill your health. Your enemies are all over-the-top characters, complete with a name per character type, to really help you pick out the ones you hate.

Jolly the spinning clown is my own personal nightmare. Although, I’d like to give a special shoutout to Gunbritt, the leather-clad lady who spanks you to death. There's also Rex, who wears a knock-off Barney costume and rolls across the screen like that one kid from Hook.

Gameplay and Art in Super Punch Patrol

Everything related to gameplay feels pretty good, if not a little heavier and methodical than most brawlers I’ve played. But where this game really stands out is in its art style. Everything from the characters to the pick-ups and the environment is rendered as fantastic, smoothly animated 3D models overlaid with a sketchy style that makes it look like the game is being hand drawn in front of you as you play. Player characters and pickups are in blue, enemies are red, and the environment is dark gray, and all of the sketchy finish is dancing around constantly as you play. It’s hard to capture in a still image just how beautiful this game looks, so check out the video below to really get it!

The only real complaint I have about this game so far is that its absolute barebones story happens to be really awkward at the time of its release. In short, the world of Super Punch Patrol is one where chaos reigns supreme. You play as three cops who have decided to take things into their own hands by, well, punching everyone in the face.

The whole plot is only two paragraphs but its worth considering

Brawlers have always been power fantasies with loose plots holding them together, so it’s not too hard to ignore the background on this one as you fight your way through the game. But if you do stop and think about it, the fantasy of power in this game is a bit out of step with the current political climate.

But it’s still heckin’ fun, and it’s only five bucks!

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