Pass the Punch is an upcoming beat ‘em up from Sumo Digital that is coming out for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PS4 later this year. We took a closer look in a meeting with the developer during Gamescom.
What we know
Originally part of a Game Jam, Pass the Punch was selected by Sumo Digital to be developed into a full game – following a similar pattern to the excellent Snake Pass. An homage to classic cartoons of the 80s and 90s and videogames like Viewtiful Joe, the game is a colorful beat ‘em up that encourages cooperative play with gameplay that is both accessible for newcomers and deep for those who have put in a bit of practice.
You can either play with an AI teammate (and still pull off team moves) or play with a second player (locally), which is the best way to enjoy the game since it was designed with coop in mind.
What we saw
We met with David Dino, the creator of Pass the Punch who submitted his original concept for the game to a Sumo Game Jam. After a short intro to the game, we got plenty of hands on time with it as well so we could test the game in both single player and multiplayer modes.
What we thought
With its extremely colorful visuals and beat ‘em up gameplay, Pass the Punch brought back memories of the excellent Viewtiful Joe. Even though that game was originally released for the Gamecube over fifteen years ago, the similarities are striking enough. Pass the Punch makes good use of the processing power that modern systems offer though, with large and colorful sprites that are nicely animated.
Besides the visuals, the gameplay also stands out – though it feels like we only scratched the surface here. The game is easy to access and button mashing gets you a long way, but to get the most out of the game you can also invest some time in mastering its combo controls. Knocking an enemy into the air first, you can keep pummeling him and keep that combo count going if you know what you’re doing – and including the occasional two-player partner attack in your combos is satisfying as well.
To help you practice, or show off what you’ve learned, the game also includes a game mode where you launch a basketball into the air and proceed to nudge it towards the net while you keep your combo going. Somewhat similar to one of Rayman’s minigames, it’s a great way to hone or demonstrate your skill – or, in my case, lack of skill as a newcomer to the game.
Where Pass the Punch needs a little bit of polish is in things like hit box detection and balancing, so that the combat doesn’t feel too floaty and attacks feel more visceral. In our demo, some attacks felt like they would hit, but would instead pass through an enemy. I suppose that fits with the “pass” theme, but David Dino told us there are indeed things that are still being worked on. The idea is that the combat will remain free-flowing, but with a good balance that should keep it from being “floaty”. We liked out first taste and can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.