Fist of Awesome: Preview Laura Kate May 2, 2013 Features, Previews In just a couple of short months gamers the world over will be able to start getting their hands on the newest contender in the world of home consoles, the Ouya. Using an android based operating system like many non-Apple smartphones, the console will feature ports of various mobile games with added controller support, as well as providing an open platform to develop for and a relatively easy path to publishing. One of the systems flagship titles at launch will be a two level demo of Developer Nicoll Hunt’s upcoming Side Scrolling, Time Travelling Lumberjack with a Sentient Hand, Bear Punching Simulator “Fist of Awesome”. I was recently lucky enough to head down to Loading, a gaming themed bar in Soho, London, to meet up with Nicoll and get some hands on time with the games Ouya build. I was able to get some hands on time with the touch screen version at a previous event, so I’ll also be giving my take on its controls vs those on the Ouya. The demo starts with the games introductory tutorial level, in which you’re introduced to lumberjack protagonist Tim Burr (a joke that took me far too long to notice) as he is pulled into a parallel world where he has conversations with his own fist as it flaps open and shut and bears have taken over the world, imprisoning all of the humans and enslaving humanity as the dominant species. When you think about it that’s not a hugely impossible premise, pretty sure I’d give in and submit rather than try and fight off a bear. The Ouya version has a relatively simple control scheme that is easy to grasp with a little bit of messing around. You’ve got punch and kick buttons, a jump and a stomp. These can be combined for jump kicks, punch can be held to unleash a super punch, and any enemies you kick in the crotch will fall to the floor to be stamped on while they’re incapacitated. This was my first time going hands on with the console and I didn’t experience any of the controller lag I’ve previously seen mentioned by other outlets, the game responded quickly enough for accurate high score runs and combos to be possible. The touch version of the game uses a gesture based setup rather than trying to emulated a series of buttons for your various moves. While moving with your left hand, you use your right to either tap or swipe in various directions for the various moves. While I preferred the tactility of the Ouya’s physical buttons, I was surprisingly impressed by how accurately the touch screen version read my moves. When I spoke to Nicoll about the fact that some gamers may be put off the idea of touch controls without trying them in this genre, he said that he actually agrees with them and generally dislikes touch controls for fighting games. He went on to explain his approach when designing the games touch controls. “My favourite games are all beat-em-ups, especially the old school scrolling ones. I spent far too much time in smokey arcades playing Double Dragon, TMNT, The Simpsons Arcade, Final Fight, etc. I loved the feel of the joystick and the buttons. Seeing them rendered as icons on touch screens, where I have to jab at them underneath a solid sheet of glass is rubbish. I can’t replicate the feeling of a real joystick and buttons, so I don’t try. The gesture approach I’ve taken in FIST OF AWESOME makes you feel like you are really in control of the character. You don’t keep glancing at your fingers to ensure you’re over the punch button and not the jump button, it feels completely natural. So it’s not trying to emulate the old way, but it is trying to give you the feeling of precision and control you’re used to.” The other level available in the demo takes you into a city style setting to fight off yet more bears. As well as being considerably more challenging than the opening level, this level shines in terms of the humour of it’s design. There’s Bear related puns aplenty, the best of which are in the names of buildings you pass. There’s a dilapidated restaurant titled Bear Grillz, and my favourite ever fake building Bare Bears, a bear themed strip club with stunning neon depictions of it’s employees outside the door. Humour has been one of the constant high points in my time with the game. From the over the top premise and design of the characters, to the personality of your fist, every detail that can be made into a joke is. There’s signs in the intro level that make clever and amusing commentary on your actions and the game is just generally well written. Developer Nicoll has clearly put a lot of himself into the games design and it’s paid off immensely, turning a strong beat ’em up game into something more impressive, somewhat of a must play for anyone picking up the Ouya. The games retro styled graphics look nice and crisp on a touch screen, which I expected just due to the smaller screen size, but playing the Ouya version on a large flatscreen I was surprised at just how well the visual style scales. The resolution’s high enough that the blocks are bold and distinct, and the game runs at a nice solid frame rate which never stuttered at and time during my time with the game. All in all I’m really excited to get my hands on the full release of Fist of Awesome. The games sense of humour has me desperate to play through the story, and I’m looking forward to seeing what variety there is in enemy design as the levels go forward. Dinosaurs have been confirmed to be punchable enemies, so who knows where else in time we might end up. What do you think? Have you been able to try the game out? Would you take a chance on a touch screen beat ’em up game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.