On the second day of Play NYC, I was up on the second-floor balcony checking out the dozens of games jam-packed into one tiny area. One particular exhibitor saw that I had finished another fighting game called Origin of Storms and asked if I wanted to check out his. I had no other plans in particular, so I headed over to Sector-K Games' booth to have a look at Punch Planet.
I had previously seen Punch Planet being played in a side room as part of the on-site entertainment for the 2017 Bit Awards. I didn't get a chance to play it myself, but I thought it looked interesting and I was happy to be able to give it a whirl. At the moment, the game has three stages and a handful of characters. Each of these characters are a homage to the high-fantasy and gritty sci-fi of the '80s and '90s. Punch Planet makes no apologies about its roots—and it doesn't need to.
I played a few rounds of the game. It implemented many classic fighting game mechanics quite well. The character Roy had an energy pistol that could be fired dead ahead or in a diagonal direction depending on whether you pressed the weak, medium, or strong punch button. The movement didn't feel particularly fast, but it had room to be highly technical. A Roman Cancel system exists in the game; players could press a certain button combination to cancel the recovery frames of a move and immediately begin another, effectively allowing for the creation of custom combo attacks on the fly. There's also a parry system, but I just couldn't execute it correctly for the life of me.
I had first tried to play as the knife-wielding warrior Cid. I found her to be a character with a focus on short-range attacks. She had the ability to chuck a grenade on the floor, and I did my best to try to create no-win scenarios where the opponent had to either eat a grenade or get poked to death by my knife. Unfortunately, I wasn't really able to grasp Cid very well and I got my butt kicked pretty badly.
After that disaster of a first round, I decided to try my hand at playing as Roy. Once I had my hands on a character with a projectile attack, I was able to fare much better. I timed my attacks to either zone out my opponent or hit them when they were approaching from a disadvantageous position. I cranked out one or two more rounds with Roy and found him to be much more well-suited to my playing style in fighting games.
The characterization in Punch Planet was something I was particularly fond of. There were men who looked like they could fire a machine gun for two hours without ever reloading, just like Arnie & Sly. The women wore skimpy outfits that were perfectly in line with the high-fantasy shows like She-Ra and Thundercats. G-Agent was a walking, talking shout-out to Power Rangers/Super Sentai, and there was a dog character named Dog. It's a perfect mix of late 20th century ridiculousness backed by tight fighting game mechanics.
At the moment, Punch Planet has six playable characters out of its eventual roster of eight. It can be played in local or online multiplayer, although the game is still pretty new so it might not have a high population of players online. You can grab a copy of the game for yourself on Steam and you can follow the game's development on its official website.
What do you think of Punch Planet? Do you think an indie fighting game can do well considering the mainstream competition? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2018 Coverage Hub.