Some of my fondest gaming memories are of playing side-scrolling beat ‘em ups with my brother; Double Dragon, Turtles and Streets of Rage are just a few that we played together. We particularly enjoyed playing Golden Axe, and it’s this that Dungeon Punks reminded me most of.
There are six characters to unlock and once available three teams of two can be selected. Rather than being tied to one tag team of characters, you can switch teams at any time. Unfortunately the teams don’t have any special tag abilities like The Simpsons arcade game, which is quite the missed opportunity, although each character does handle slightly differently, each one favouring speed, strength or magic.
With a layer of RPG elements that include weapon and spell upgrades, Dungeon Punks spans 12 environments. The game starts with a simple delivery mission that goes wrong and several precious vases get smashed. So begins errand after errand until the debt is repaid – if only it were that simple – the crew end up embroiled in a corporate battle for control over RezCorp, the sinister corporation behind the world of Dungeon Punks.
RezCorp sell insurance to bring folk back from the dead. Any death needn’t be permanent if you afford a small excess payment, made out in souls – the XP of the game. If your group dies mid-level before escaping via an emergency exit or by killing the main boss, a payment to RezCorp must be made. This can make leveling your characters a laborious task.
Each level can be started over with most enemies resurrected ready to oppose you again, completed side missions won’t return so choose carefully as to whether you press on or escape after completing a side mission. Each room must be cleared before you can move on although retreating to the previous room is always an option.
Beyond the simple mash the attack button, there are simple spell combos and special rage abilities – each must be charged before use – with spells requiring mana from defeated enemies and rage earned from special crystals that are dropped. It all wraps up in a very simple package that will please older gamers who grew up on a staple of the games I previously mentioned.
The art style is fantastic and is the stand out accolade of the game. The story’s attempt to be witty and humorous eases the constant button mashing of the combat and although Dungeon Punks plays very much like Golden Axe, giving a great sense of nostalgia, I couldn’t help but want more.
Level areas look the same and the layout of navigating through the foreground, background, left or right could have made Dungeon Punks the ideal game to use procedurally generated dungeons, making replay far more enjoyable, particularly during moments where you need to grind to get character XP higher. Enemies are the same reused character models and there is no online co-op.
What drove me on was not only to best the 12 areas and purchase the more powerful weapons, but also too see how the uncanny adventure of the Dungeon Punks panned out, plus I like games that riff off stuff I played in my youth.
If you’re a fan of titles such as Golden Axe, then you will really enjoy Dungeon Punks, otherwise you might just find pressing the A button just a bit too repetitive.
Thanks to Xbox and Hyper Awesome Entertainment for supporting TiX