By: Ted Chow
Iron Fisticle is a retro, top-down shooter reminiscent of games such as The Binding of Isaac. Fast paced and addicting, the game pays homage to the classic arcade days where you had a stack of quarters piled up ready to one-up your high score. If you’re looking for a new indie title that will give you some time to kill and provide some casual old-school fun, Iron Fisticle may be just the game for you.
The controls are unique for this game in that you can play either on an arcade stick, controller or a keyboard. The settings are configurable in the menu to whatever key bindings you prefer. Overall, the character’s movement felt pretty fluid and natural to basic command inputs.
The game brings back the retro feel of past arcade games by going with an 8-bit pixel art style. With 60 frames per second, Iron Fisticle plays rather smooth with no hiccups or screen tearing. The game does have a fixed camera angle, however, and the resolution is limited to full screen or windows mode. The addition of an 8-bit arcade soundtrack is appropriate as it brought home that sense of nostalgia.
Iron Fisticle is primarily a single-player arcade game with only local multiplayer available where you and a friend can play on the same screen. It is suggested that if you do play with a second player, arcade sticks or controllers are probably the best option to enjoy the co-op.
The layout of the maps is similar to games such as The Binding of Isaac, where you travel from zone to zone attempting to reach the boss of the particular floor you are on. The zones are varied and random in nature with environmental obstacles such as traps to impede your ability to navigate the zone.
Occasionally, you will come upon zones where you must complete a particular goal to move on. Essentially, your main goal is to reach the boss unscathed and continue as deep as you can with the one life given. When you finally do die you’re brought to an end score where you are ranked against other players based on the points you’ve accumulated.
Your character is a knight that somewhat reassembles the knight from Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts — it’s more noticeable when you pick up new weapons to mow down your enemies. As your knight moves around the zone, you will encounter an increasing number of enemies ranging from zombies to tougher, evasive monsters such as spell casters. Your dancing skills will be tested as you try to elude enemies across the zone while you whittle them down. You finish the zone when you collect the key to open up the passage to the next area.
In your endless dungeon delving you will come across plenty of power-ups to help combat the forces of evil. Some of these power-ups are temporary weapons that can help turn the tide, while others increase your stats such as maximum health or movement speed.
On occasion, you will come across a shop where you can purchase upgrades that are either effective until you die or become a permanent buff that carries over even when you log out of the game. If you ever feel like you want to start over with a clean slate, you can always erase your permanent buffs by selecting an option in the settings menu.
Every now and then you will collect letters that spell bonus and, as the name applies, brings you to a bonus level. The level itself plays homage to Super Mario Bros. as you side scroll from left to right collecting coins while avoiding obstacles and enemies that reassemble those in a Mario game.
With re-playable floors, a multitude of weapons and achievements to unlock, and items to transcribe into your ledger, Iron Fisticle has great replay value whenever you feel the urge to dungeon dive.
Iron Fisticle is a fast-paced arcade shooter that will bring back nostalgic memories of playing in an arcade. The throwback and homage to games such as Mario really shows the developer’s passion for providing an accurate experience to games we have grown up to love. While I do question the longevity of the game after the initial appeal, Iron Fisticle is, nonetheless, a fun game to play in burst intervals whenever you have some time to spare.