As amazing as video games are today, it feels as though something was lost in the transition from arcade to home game play. Iron Fisticle is a modern title that attempts to recapture those simple, addictive qualities so sorely lacking these days. With a top-down twin stick shooter mechanic, it certainly looks the part. But does it have that certain magic that causes people to play levels over and over? After ten hours of devoted playtime, I’m compelled to say yes.
Iron Fisticle is a game that’s incredibly easy to describe. This twin-stick shooter gives players a tiny little knight to control and a room filled with enemies with the goal to kill every single one. Sometimes they’ll drop food or other items which contribute to your high score. Other times treasure chests appear which offer coins or power ups. Power ups offer things like increased speed, more attack strength and additional hearts. Basically, you’re trying to survive for as long as possible and rack up a new high score in the process.
There is a bit of depth as well, although it’s not immediately apparent. The whole level up system is persistent between playthroughs, meaning that every playthrough isn’t meaningless. Your hero soon starts stronger, faster, and generally far better than before. It’s this mechanic in particular that hooks players into continued playthroughs. Finally getting to beat level bosses and explore new areas is a tremendous reward. Along the way Iron Fisticle’s gameplay holds up thanks to easy and enjoyable controls.
It becomes apparent after playing for awhile just how much work went into the game. At first it seems like there’s only a few enemy types, but you realize this is far from the truth upon exploring later levels. Each level boss requires its own bit of strategy and look awesome as well. Heck, even the items which monsters drop change the more you play. Leveling up also grants new weapons – all of which are far more powerful than the standard sword. In particular there’s the Iron Fist(icle?) which blasts all enemies around you. It’s an awesome way to save your hide when surrounded.
Outside of its gameplay, Iron Fisticle also captures the arcade aesthetic via pixel art. Characters all have a nice chunky body painted in bright colors. You’ll also notice that scanlines are present at all times. They can be turned off if need be, but they’re a fun attempt at making the experience more “authentic.” Every once in a while the graphics are a hindrance. Usually this is when certain enemies look too similar to food (such as green slime and green apples); attempting to simply nab more points might lead to damage instead.
Players can approach the game with either a keyboard and mouse setup or controller. Personally, I’d recommend controller as it fits better with the gameplay. In either case it shouldn’t take long to blast through rooms of enemies with ease. There are a few times when aim feels off, though. This is thanks to a few special weapons that fire out at angles rather than straight ahead. Keep an eye out for these weapons to minimize wasting precious ammunition.
Iron Fisticle is the kind of game that immediately sinks its hooks into you. Most of us have played at least one twin-stick shooter before, so there’s no trouble getting started. The problem comes with putting it down. Nearly everything about the experience is finely tuned to encourage continuous playthroughs. Minus a few miniscule issues, it’s one of the most entertaining games out right now. Anyone with a taste for arcade-style games needs to have Iron Fisticle in their collection.