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Arts in Review

Cascade Arcade: One Finger Death Punch

Stick-figure animated violence has been an ongoing guilty pleasure of the internet for the last decade. There have been hundreds of animated shorts or flash games on Newgrounds and the infamous StickDeath.

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By Jeremy Hannaford (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: March 19, 2014

 One_Finger_Death_Punch_Gameplay.mov

Stick-figure animated violence has been an ongoing guilty pleasure of the internet for the last decade. There have been hundreds of animated shorts or flash games on Newgrounds and the infamous StickDeath. But while this genre has been present, it has never really changed, and at times it disappears from the limelight.

With One Finger Death Punch, however, the genre seems set to return, offering something thrilling to the simplistic genre.

One Finger Death Punch is a parody of old kung fu movies. The opening menu is full of imitation ancient Chinese artwork and epic music, begging to get the blood flowing as well as the chuckles.

But once the game begins, the humour is replaced with an addictive intensity. The game controls consist of hitting the two mouse buttons to control the direction in which you want to attack.

The simplistic side-scrolling combat is ridiculous and violent with power-move and freeze-frame skull-crushing animations. These elements have no effect on the way you play. You are still just pressing the same two buttons on the mouse, but the game offers such a cinematic presentation that you feel you’re doing more.

The background scenery and objects are ever-changing, from a lush green forest to a secluded mountaintop. These backdrops factor into how the game is played, sometimes requiring a change in brightness settings. But the real treat is the objects that appear in the background and how you can interact with them. You can kick enemies through house walls, nail heads to lamp posts, impale them on upright swords, and perform many more acts of destruction with bows, staffs, and giant scythes.

One Finger Death Punch offers two game modes: story and survival. Survival shows off the great balancing in this game, as enemies evolve from single-hit kills to those that require multiple hits or combos. These more difficult enemies are introduced at perfect times and don’t encumber the player — but they don’t make it easier either.

This game thrives on presenting challenges, not only through the urge to beat a personal best, but also to compete with friends on leader boards for bragging rights. Despite being a two-button game, it still requires skill, patience, and quick reflexes. As the narrator reminds you, this game is not about button mashing. Doing that only results in missing targets which hinders you for a precious second, during which the enemy can land a crushing blow.

There are so many different styles and combo sequences that I have rarely seen the same outcomes twice. Combos can result in extended range, bullet-time effects, or slamming an enemy with a power attack which, while doing nothing but kill an enemy, is always amazing to watch.

One aspect that separates me from true fans of these intense reaction-based games is that my reaction time is not quick enough to tackle late-game moments when the difficulty ramps up. As with Guitar Hero, I am limited to how fast I can react and eventually the game just becomes impossible. This, of course, is what will make some people love this. While I do enjoy a challenge, it sometimes just gets out of control.

But other than that, this game is completely worth the $5. Some may argue that it could be a free internet Flash game, but this game would lag horribly and likely be prone to crash on that platform.

This small game is a much larger package than it seems. My personal favourite parts are the dark dramatic scenes involving a light saber or nunchakus. These figures cast their shadows on the screen as they clash in bloody silhouette combat.

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