Side-scrolling brawlers have never really been my cup of tea. Sure, I have fond memories of playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist on the Sega Genesis with my little brother, getting into stupid little arguments that escalated until one or both of us threw our controllers across the room and quit, but I never found another game that was able to lure me back into the genre. Why did I pick up an Android side-scrolling brawler, then, you ask? I don’t know why I buy 90% of the stuff I do, to be perfectly honest. Besides, Big Action Mega Fight looked awesome, and I longed to recapture the magic of a time when mullet-sporting mustachioed individuals were looked upon as the epitome of heroism.
Touch controls are the devil
I didn’t play BAMF with its touch controls. Sure, they’re there and you could technically use them, but touch controls are simply way too imprecise and frustrating for a game like this. Fortunately, I ordered a fancy new case for my Kindle Fire HD several months ago, and it was so fancy-shmancy that it came with a bluetooth keyboard. That bluetooth keyboard, as it turns out, functions with a surprising number of mobile games, almost making them as playable and convenient as PC or console games. This is especially true of BAMF, which not only worked with the keyboard, but had movement tied to the PC-gamer-friendly WASD controls. The other buttons were equally well placed, with J being the jab button, K being roll, L being throw, and I being uppercut. All that being said, BAMF recognized my keyboard as a bluetooth controller and would tell me to do things like “tilt my joystick to move,” but that awkwardness quickly passed.
Save the city!
The city of Megatropolis is in trouble. The “Clunks,” a vicious street gang, have taken over the city, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve also kidnapped your friend Hawk. You play as mustachioed man’s man Brick as he wages a 38-stage beatdown on the Clunks in order to save both his friend and his city, a journey that involves punching, more punching, and more explosive chickens than you can shake a stick at. Anyway, to say that games like this aren’t about the story is an understatement, though the ridiculous nature of the whole thing is definitely an enjoyably fitting homage to the campiness of many other games in the genre.
However, I had some lag
One of the biggest problems I faced with BAMF has to do with lag. I don’t know if this is the fault of bluetooth controls or if it’s something inherent to the game, but I soon realized that my rolls would take a split-second between my button press and main character Brick actually rolling. Uppercuts were similarly laggy, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, they queued, meaning pressing it multiple times out of frustration often incapacitated Brick and opened him up to attacks at the worst possible times. Normal punches and movement didn’t seem to have any noticeable lag, so I have no idea what the issue was.
Special attacks and buffs
Some enemies are best attacked with the fast-but-weak jabs, while others are only vulnerable to being attacked with uppercuts. Neither have anything on your special attacks, though, which are overwhelmingly powerful attacks that you’re able to perform once you’ve filled up a bar by punching enough things. Two of my personal favorites are “Fistnado,” which, true to its name, turns Brick into a tornado of fists, and “Poultry Rain,” which summons a large number of explosive chickens to rain down upon your enemies. Special attacks are a great way of helping finish off a screen full of troublesome enemies, though I found them to be most helpful for keeping your combo multiplier high (more on that later) in tricky situations since hits from your special add to it like regular hits.
Buffs are orbs that you find lying around on the ground, often coming from defeated enemies. These come in a range of different flavors that are slowly unlocked over the course of the story, and can grant a boost to damage, raise your special bar so that you can use your special attack sooner, and even confer temporary invincibility. The random nature of these means that you won’t be basing your strategy for a stage around them, but they’re nonetheless important elements that can occasionally save you from tricky situations.
Stages, coins, and stars
As I mentioned earlier, there are 38 stages in the game. Beating on enemies and finishing stages provides you with coins that can then be used to upgrade Brick. You can upgrade his strength, health, special attacks, and the effects of buffs. All of these are fairly self-explanatory; upgrading strength gives Brick stronger punches, upgrading his health gives him more health, upgrading special attacks allows them to last longer, and upgrading buffs makes those buffs even more effective.
As for stars… I have no idea what purpose they serve, but you receive anywhere from one to three at the end of a stage based on your score (which ultimately comes down to keeping your combo multiplier high by avoiding getting hit). Here’s the thing: BAMF was originally a free-to-play game that had microtransactions, but the developers received some feedback and changed the game to a premium, microtransaction-free game. Are the stars a relic of its free-to-play past? I can’t help but think so, and while they give you something to strive for (and potentially grant you more coins upon finishing a level from what I could tell), finishing all 38 stages with three stars out of three didn’t unlock anything new. Still, the fact that I felt compelled to finish all stages with three stars is enough of an argument for their existence, even if they only exist to remind you that you can do a little better.
Some miscellaneous issues
One of the things I noticed was that there are no boss fights. There are stronger enemies who take a bunch of hits to go down, sure, but they’re fairly frequent toward the end. I seem to remember boss fights being a big element in older fighting games, though if we’re being perfectly honest right now, I never liked the boss fights in those fighting games and I’m glad they’re not in BAMF. Another thing I noticed was that one or two stages had annoying scenery in the foreground (as pictured below) that blocks the player’s sight of what’s going on. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially since it happens late in the game when you’re swarmed by many enemies at once, but it’s thankfully rare. Lastly, the beginning and end have unique art, but all of the “dialogue” sequences that pop up whenever you enter a new “area” of the city reuse the exact same art. This isn’t really a big deal, but between that and many of the enemies just being recolors of the same 6 or 7 enemies, it does come across as a bit phoned in at times.
All of that having been said…
I loved BAMF. I mean, I spent 99% of the six hours it took me to play through the game (getting 3/3 stars on all the levels, of course) totally pissed off at it, but that really harkens back to the days when my brother and I would rage-quit the Ninja Turtles brawler on the Sega Genesis. I don’t know if that’s a sign of quality or if I’m just insane, but there’s something special about BAMF that’s difficult to put into words, and its 3-dollar price tag means that there’s really no excuse for not trying it out. I mean, I bought it and I don’t even like the genre all that much.
You like cartoons, right?
Aside from the reused art and recolored enemies, BAMF is a colorful, visually interesting game. There’s not a huge amount of graphic variation, of course, but I played for an hour or two over the course of a few days and the visuals never lost their luster. The cartoonish style meshes perfectly with the campiness of the story and world, too, so it all comes together really well.
It’s amazing that I even heard the music over the endless stream of profanities I was yelling at the screen while playing, but it’s definitely there. Even better, it’s the same kind of funky, upbeat, slightly cheesy synth stuff that you’d hope to find in a game about a mullet-having hero saving his city with a never-ending stream of punches. I don’t know exactly how much music is in this game, but I never found it repetitive. On top of that, there are nice little touches like a low-pass filter that’s used when you pause the game. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically when you hear the bass like when you’re standing outside of a club. It’s a really nice touch, and it speaks to the high quality of the audio throughout the game.
Here’s what you should do: