The only game that lets you punch stingrays, demented chickens and televisions. Bring it on.
Unstoppable Fist became cool the moment we heard its supercharged theme music, which doubles as an ear massage; you'll get pumped after three seconds of listening to it. That said, Ragtag Studio's retro homage pays tribute to classic beat-em-ups, with not only a 16-bit style soundtrack, but also superb pixel art graphics, an over the top real American hero and simple to digest but surprisingly difficult play, which winds up being its Achilles Heel. Unstoppable Fist is at times too hard, and this has less to do with complexity. Rather, the character's response times are the real issue.
Set against three unique and expertly detailed environments, the game casts you as a muscle-bound tough guy named Fist, charged with repelling all manner of enemies, including mosquitos, flying piranhas, stingrays, bouncing tires and even angry televisions. Unlike those beat-em-ups from back in the day, though, you cannot move across the 2D plane. Instead, enemies appear from the left and right, and you press six touch zones (three on each side of the screen, designated high, medium and low) to unleash powerful punches and kicks that turn Fist's adversaries into red goop. In addition, you can press two opposite touch zones to perform a double attack, and swipe down to perform a special maneuver that amounts to an axe kick.
On Easy, Unstoppable Fist is a lot of fun. You'll definitely enjoy killing as many critters as possible, and the inclusion of a score multiplier means there's a great opportunity to send your current total soaring past other players on the online leaderboards; Ragtag separates these by difficulty.
Where the game falters is Medium and Hard, especially the latter. Creatures travel at different speeds, while some, like the armadillos and floating zombie heads, require two hits to destroy. This proves problematic when you have some turtles (another two-hitter) traveling along a medium touch zone on the left, with a fast moving piranha speeding through the high touch zone on the right. Fist simply doesn't react fast enough, and takes damage and/or dies as a result. The whole point of seeing how long you can last is fine, but more often than not, losing seems unfair.
What's more, there's no full-screen iPad version. A shame, considering the attention paid to those 2D graphics. At least on the positive side, the game doesn't lose much in terms of clarity when you blow things up 2X on Apple's tablet, a true testament to the love that went into creating each board. There's the Bayou, complete with speeding motorboat, trailer with satellite dish, sports car and grill. Then you have the Ruins, with flaming torches and stone heads. Finally, there's our favorite, Shipwreck, which takes place underwater, with a sunken ship and giant clam in the background. Sweet artwork all around, and a fine job from Ragtag.
So is Unstoppable Fist worth a purchase? Yes, especially if you're a fan of those brawlers from back in the day. The game's enemies are a bit cheap (we would nix two-hit baddies altogether), but you'll make serious headway on Easy and Medium. On top of that, the outstanding presentation (the soundtrack is free, by the way) makes spending that $0.99 a smart decision. Now go punch some chickens.
Review code provided by Ragtag Studio.
What's Hot: Glorious retro-flavored music, expertly detailed pixel art, mostly satisfying combat, leaderboards.
What's Not: Enemies a bit unfair on tougher difficulties, no full-screen iPad version.