Action Fist!

By: Guest Reviewer

On: April 14th, 2010

[This is a guest review by Cellulose Man. If you’re interested in writing an article for TIGSource, please go here.]

Beau Blyth, of Fish Face fame, recently released his largest work to date. Action Fist! is a side-scrolling shoot ’em up modeled in the style of (and as a tribute to) classic games like Gunstar Heroes.

The basic premise is thus: Domingus, a man of action, has had everything he loves stolen from him by an insidious villain known only as The Madman. He and his monocle-wearing platonic lady friend Ina are armed to the teeth and will fight their way through countless dangers and hordes of robot guards to take back what’s theirs. (Well, what’s Domingus’s, but you get the point.)

The game sports two-player co-op mode, several unlockables, fabulous music by the creator’s brother, and a weapon upgrading mechanic that keeps gameplay feeling very dynamic. It spans several stages, each split into two acts with a boss fight at the end. The stages are gorgeous and the boss battles polish them off expertly. The alternate characters have different mechanics (which I won’t spoil) and the difficulty modes range from relatively easy to near-impossible. It took some effort on my part to beat normal mode but I’m a crappy gamer. Replay value is quite present though – I’ve had three or four play throughs and I’m not done yet!

Of special note to the game designers out there is the detailed polish that went into every corner of the game. You might not notice while playing, but every enemy gives a warning prior to firing its weapon. Sounds are used extensively. Enemy bullets are easy to see. The player characters flash visibly when hurt. It’s clear when you’ve defeated an enemy. At times the game goes to lengths to sacrifice realism for player intuitiveness. (See: in the highway level you can jump to shoot enemies behind you.) Effort to this effect – gameplay tuning – has dramatically improved the feel of the game from its early versions.

My criticisms of the final cut are as follows: The color-matching mechanic (wherein the player can do additional damage to enemies with like-colored bullets) seems ill-explained, and many of my friends didn’t pick up on it. The game’s second level has no way to get power-ups. The second-to-last boss is a pushover, especially compared to the ones preceding it, and you can’t wall jump until you double-jump. The final fight is dramatically harder than the rest of the game, though I’m not certain if I really mind. Lastly, the fun of massacring enemies with an upgraded weapon tends to be lost on less skilled players who die frequently, losing said upgrades. Additionally, many of the weapon crates are well-hidden.

All that said, the ending deserves some kind of goddamned award. The game’s well worth the zero dollars you’ll pay for it, so give it a try.

TIGdb: Entry for Action Fist!

  • MisterX

    I understand, Anarkex, and like I said I actually agree with most of what you said. I was merely stating how much or little the points you mentioned affected my own experience with the game. And indeed, at least I have nothing left to say :)

  • Anarkex

    S’ok MisterX. I just want to make sure I’m being clear. If that means going a little overboard, I’m pretty OK with that. Thanks though.

  • Deadheat

    I would of missed this if it wasn’t posted here. Sure it might not be super original, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun!

  • Gutter

    I said it before, TIGSource’s frontpage is what the forum users think is cool.

    I find it funny that Derek even need a disclaimer seeing as what we see on the front page are usually games by “friends” of the forums dwellers (eg : people they adulate).

    Who cares. It’s not like if they can cover every games, there is more than just a lot of them.

    And Anarkex : Wow… just… wow…

    @Beau : Thats a kick ass game, worthy of any Indie game front page.

  • Anarkex

    Yeah I know Gutter. Normally devs have to pay for this kind of insight, and here I am offering it up to all of you for free. Use it well!

  • Anarkex

    Or I should say, they WOULD have to pay for this kind of insight, if it generally existed.

  • AdamButcher

    This game was great! Lovely mega drive flava. And it’s been a long while since I played a TIGS game to it’s end!

    Well done.

  • Phoomegaishun

    beat on hero B]

    BAMF mode gives you 1 hp…


  • Anthony Flack

    “Or I should say, they WOULD have to pay for this kind of insight, if it generally existed.”

    You’re joking, right? This is exactly the sort of discussion I have with my team members on an almost-daily basis. They’re solid observations you’re offering, but if you believe that kind of insight is in short supply, then you must be hanging with the wrong crowd.

  • Ape

    I really want to like this game but I don’t want to spend 15 minutes fighting a boss because I have the wrong color weapon.

  • Anarkex

    I’m exaggerating of course, for trollery and fun. But I don’t doubt at all that common sense is hard to come by, especially as far as western indie games are concerned. Maybe you and your team should speak up once in a while. It’d be a nice mix-up amidst all the wankery that goes on.

  • Troy RULES

    Quick tip for developers:
    Don’t put 5 checkpoints per stage and unlimited continues if you just plan on making your player die over and over in a trial and error effort. That’s not entertaining in any way. The game started off pretty fun but it really lost that too obnoxious retry efforts. And no, I won’t drop down to normal mode.

  • MisterX

    I guess he may have lost the sense for how a first-time player experiences the game. When I played through Action Fist! the first time on normal, I also died frequently, so most of the time I lost my upgrades shortly after I obtained them. But, since the game is so short, I already remembered most of it on my second try, and then I was already able to plow through the majority of the game with two fully upgraded weapons and only dying few times.

    It was annoying to lose the upgrades again so quickly on my first run, but I got to say it did motivate me to play it another two or three times, as it was a very different experience once I knew about most dangers. Especially playing it on BAMF turned out to be quite exciting, possibly more so than the first and second time I played through it.