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Fist of Awesome is a game with time-traveling bears, a talking fist, and bears being uppercut by said fist. Suffice it to say, it's all a bit absurd; when your character is told not to think too much about what's going on in the story, it's advice that you would be wise to follow yourself. Underneath all of the silliness and some less-than-enjoyable attempts at humor, though, is a surprisingly fun action game when played in short bursts.
Fist fits the mold of classic arcade beat-‘em-ups like Double Dragon and Final Fight: You’ll move through side-scrolling 2D stages with the goal of eliminating every enemy encountered using a variety of melee attacks. The core gameplay is very simple, and one of the few ways Fist livens up this aging genre is by allowing players to enhance their character's abilities — including attack damage, health, and speed, the last of which starts out far too low. Experience points used to buy upgrades are earned even after dying, something that, combined with generous checkpoints and regenerating health, reduces the frustration of failure.
As a fairly short game, Fist can be played from beginning to end in one sitting; but that's inadvisable, because doing so makes its flaws more apparent. The controls are extremely solid – the screen is divided into two halves and uses taps and gestures in place of virtual buttons – but the action wears thin during long sessions. That's due in large part to a lack of new moves or interesting foes being introduced as the game goes on. Additional enemy types can take more damage but offer no new challenges, and bosses are equally uninspired. Beyond the setting, little changes from minute one to minute 60, and the challenge stages don't have enough objectives to keep things fresh for long.
Despite this, when played a level or two at a time, Fist of Awesome can be a lot of fun. It doesn't do much to move the genre forward, and the lack of creative ideas as the game goes on proves disappointing, but it's an amusing game with tight controls that’s ideal for quick pick-up-and-play sessions.
The bottom line. First of Awesome suffers due to a lack of variety, but it remains an enjoyable experience in small chunks.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Great control scheme. Enjoyable action that’s good for short play sessions. Challenge stages provide some replay value.
Bosses and late-game enemies do nothing new. Humor falls flat in spots. Enemies can be cheap.