My favorite beat 'em ups have character and personality, tight combat and hit-boxes, and responsive controls that allow for tactical decision making. If they also have referential humor, a great art direction, a kick ass soundtrack, and a bad ass bear-punching, beard-having protagonist - like in Fist of Awesome [$3.99] - that's even better.
This game is indeed an homage to classic beat 'em ups, but in a way that says more about what makes its creator, Nicoll Hunt, laugh and smile. Its story is silly, intentionally convoluted, and revolves around a time-traveling lumberjack - named Tim Burr - whose fist mysteriously gathers a voice and drags him through a plot of enslaved humans and homicidal forest animals.
You should be smiling already.
Controls are thankfully gesture-based - I hate virtual controls. Surprisingly, Fist of Awesome controls perfectly, always responding to swipes and taps. The smile gets bigger.
Fist of Awesome does nearly everything else right. Its numerous, charmingly designed enemies have unique attacks and weaknesses, its art direction oddly beautiful to look at, and, as mentioned, its controls tight and intuitive on touch devices.
Tim also has upgradable attributes - health, attack damage, special, etc. - just because RPG elements are awesome; as is the slew of unlockable additional characters to fight with in Fist of Awesome's arena mode.
In the arena, you compete against the clock for a high score. To score points you must complete battle achievements like 11x combos, drop-kicking 4 bears, and much more. This mode really extends the game past its fairly short campaign and adds a bunch more fun to the mix while unveiling most of the depth of its combat mechanics through challenge.
Fist of Awesome embodies the word fun; everything about it. It's important because it's a personal reflection of its creator, and not because it's doing anything ground-breaking in the genre. It engages, makes you laugh, and stands out without trying too hard. Did I mention it plays exceptional well on iOS?
Fist of Awesome is simply... awesome.
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