Often the quality of a game is very easy to assess. Most games fall into one of two categories – good and bad – with various shades between, but then there’s the select breed of games that are so very bad that they miraculously become good again. These games are a guilty pleasure that we relish in our privacy. Sure, we wouldn’t want to tell everyone that Dead of Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball is our second favourite video game of all time, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Every so often, one can encounter a type of game that is so rare that some think it doesn’t even exist: a game so bad that it becomes good and then keeps on going until it ends up being bad again. A game so bad that it’s bad-bad, if you will. Drunken Fist is one such game.
Drunken Fist casts the player in the vomit coated shoes of a violent inebriate. This fisticuff loving booze monster stumbles the streets of an unknown city, punching, kicking and urinating on every unfortunate soul he meets as he tries to find his way home. Be it jocks, gangsters or even guitar strumming peace loving hippies, all will learn to fear his beer fuelled rage. Drunken Fist is a 3rd person brawler then, one in which each miniscule level holds a selection of “bad guys” to beat up and some random items to collect. Carry out these simple objectives and you’ll move on to the next level to do it all again.
Were it so simple though. Playing Drunken Fist makes you feel drunk. Maybe that’s the point? Though I reckon there’s far more enjoyable ways to achieve tipsiness than having to play this game. Drunken Fist is made impossibly difficult thanks to your protagonist being utterly useless at fighting and the controls seeming to have little to no effect on proceedings whatsoever through their laughably slow response times. Tap a button and maybe, just maybe, the vodka addled vigilante will unleash an uppercut but, more often that not, he won’t do anything at all.
It’s also nearly impossible to discern if an attack will hit an unwitting member of the public; punches, kicks and roundhouse sweeps that should strike whistle past embarrassingly short of their target. Perhaps this is all due to the physics-based nature of the combat, perhaps it’s due to the woeful camera, but I’m pretty sure it’s just because Drunken Fist hates me.
Even walking proves nearly impossible, the Malibu soaked martial artist will stumble and fall regardless of what the player does. This turns traversing the small levels into an absolute chore. What makes getting around even more of a slog is the need to keep your character’s Drunk Meter topped up by chugging beers, as well as having to urinate so his bladder doesn’t explode. I mean, it doesn’t really explode, but it will gradually deplete your health meter until the game just stops and demands you start again.
All of these elements are dogged by the incessant problem of the same useless controls. Drinking a beer or unleashing alcoholic urine hell requiring several stabs of the button before anything happens, andon’t even get me started on the challenges of trying to find, let alone reach, another beer to down. Suffice to say it’s a miserable experience.
To start with, all of this goofiness is rather funny. It swings almost immediately over to that guilty pleasure column where you can laugh at how bad it is as a horde of jocks slipped, tripped and died on a puddle of my wee. The problem is, the game hasn’t got any other jokes to tell. Like a drunken bore at a party it just repeats the same gag again and again. You can tell the game still thinks its funny, but you’ll have stopped laughing long ago.
Levels also become frustratingly difficult. By the fourth stage you’re tasked with taking out a veritable army of foes, hampered by the same treacle soaked controls, painful input lag, useless camera and all the random nonsense that the physics-based combat brings. With no ability to level up your fighter and even the odds, it feels like the developer never actually intended for anyone to play any further. Which might explain why every trophy is awarded by the end of level three. On the plus side, if you’re a trophy hunter, then Drunken Fist is absolutely your game: I platinumed the thing in an hour.