Iron Fisticle is a twin stick shooter that feels like it belongs in an arcade. You - and optionally a buddy in local co-op, sorry, no online - fight through single screen levels, collecting random powerups and facing massive hordes of enemies and bosses in a quest to reach the #1 spot on the high scores list. There's a story told via a simple cutscene at the start of the game, But like many old arcade games, the story is simple an excuse to go run around an shoot things.
|Iron Fisticle certainly looks like an old arcade game.|
As an arcade game, Iron Fisticle has a lot of random power ups and scoring items to collect, and this is easily one of the games best features, there's over 150 different items to collect, most are things like flowers or food that gives points, but there's also several weapons, like hammers that bounce off walls, or arrows that give you a 3-way shot. Some items even have more interesting abilites, like BONUS letters, that instantly finish a stage and drop a ton of scoring items when you get a full set, or 7 gems that can give you a powerful rainbow weapon for one room. There's even a set of hint books, that give gameplay tips you can read in the game's ledger which tracks all the items you've found, and gives a description for each of them.
|occasionally, you get to play a little side scrolling mini-game to earn some extra coin.|
The other major feature of the game is an RPG-style stat and level system which actually works. you have several stats that control things like attack strength and movement speed, and random pwoerups can give you bonuses to them that last throughout the game, you can even buy permenant upgrades from the between-stage shops that let you start the next game with higher stats. Meanwhile, as you level up, you unlock things like new weapons, or higher maximum stats. It's enough to keep things interesting, and while it doesn't take too long ot reach max level, the game allows you to keep leveling past that, dropping a set of powerups and scoring items whenever you level up again. I'll note however, that while it adds a good bit to the game and helps keep things interesting, the leveling and stat system is very simplistic. You character can get a good bit stronger and unlock some extra powerups, but you won't learn any new abilities or anything else that would drastically change the game beyond the basic running and shooting.
|Between some stages, you can buy powerups and items at shops like this.|
The game has a chiptune soundtrack that fits the game nicely enough. It does a good job of setting the mood though suffers form being fairly small. you'll be hearing a lot of the same music over and over again. The games sound design is equally minimal, The only sounds you'll hear for the most part are picking up items and firing your weapon. Beyond that there's not much. Surprisingly, there's no sound for when enemies fire at you. Shooting enemies are pretty rare and the bullets large and bright enough that it's not a massive issue, but the lack of audio cue is strange.
|In an emergency, the Iron Fisticle can punch a good hole in the crowd.|
Overall, this game is maybe a bit rough around the edges. The leveling system doesn't last too long, random levels aren't all that random and with only four floors, there's only 4 bosses to fight. But what the game does right it does really well. This is a really good throwback to old arcade games like Gauntlet or Smash TV an is well worth a look if you like those classic arcade games.
Iron Fisticle was developed by Confused Pelican and published by Curve Digital. It is available on Steam. It's homepage is available here.