It was four years in the making, but when Benjamin Marchand's touchscreen fighter Kinetic Damage [$2.99 / Free] finally landed on the App Store, it was worth the wait. Marchand rethought what a fighter should be like on the touchscreen, dropping complex button inputs for combos and special moves and replacing them with much simpler strikes that are grounded in real-life martial arts and can be strung together organically into combos.
The result is a fighting game that feels fluid and never demands more than your fingers and virtual buttons can accommodate, without losing the depth and strategy that fighting games are known for. There were some other major outside-the-box ideas in Kinetic Damage too, like a long overdue rethinking of how the "life meter" works and the complete absence of any projectile weapons, meaning you'll need to get up close and personal with your opponent rather than spamming them with fireballs from the other side of the arena.
Because Kinetic Damage is so different, it takes some practice to really click with the game's mechanics. Once you do it's a beautiful thing, but it takes time to get there. While we really enjoyed Kinetic Damage in our review, it was definitely missing some sort of Training mode where you could figure out the details of the game without the pressure of an AI opponent beating on your face or a clock ticking down in the background.
An update over the weekend gives us just that: a new Training mode with a configurable CPU opponent. You can set the difficulty of the CPU player, change their posture, toggle their autoguard/combos/counters on or off, and more. All the while you'll both have infinite energy so you can just whale away on the CPU and try out different tactics and strategies. You can also record a specific sequence using the CPU player and then play it back at will, so you can get very specific with the moves you want to practice against.
Another big addition in this update is controller support, specifically for the iCade and iControlpad. There's an option to remap all the buttons so you should be able to get suited to whichever version of the iCade you have, and the folks in our forums seem to really be digging using physical controls with this game. I really prefer the touchscreen controls in this case, but it's nice to have options.
Besides a Training mode, the other big feature we felt was missing from Kinetic Damage was a form of multiplayer. With this Training mode update out of the way, it's all systems go on a Multiplayer update, so we'll be sure to let you know when that starts to shape up. In the meantime, if you like fighters and have missed Kinetic Damage thus far, at least give the lite version a spin as this has quickly become one of my most frequently played iPhone games since release, and even more so with this awesome new Training mode.