On a Sunday morning about brunch time in 2009, Matt sat in his Spruce Street apartment in downtown Santa Cruz. Watching a Woody Allen movie and snacking on gluten free pretzels (way ahead of his time) it seemed the start of a perfect summer day. The tingle of the ocean air. The distant creak of the wooden roller coaster at the beach Boardwalk. Then there was a crash, the windows rattled. Nearly knocking over his homemade kombucha, Matt leapt to his feet and slipped through his narrow hallways to the bathroom window.
What the hell was that? Tires squealed. A gunshot?
The courtyard was lined with orange trees, littered underneath with used needles and the mussed iceplant that was many a drug addict’s bed. Matt descended the portico, bisected an empty garden and pushed through a gate near the laundry room which opened into the driveway of the adjacent complex.
On the pavement in front of him lay a dead man. Or nearly dead. The top of his skull had been disassembled by a point blank blast from a 12 gauge shotgun. His eyes still twitched. There were bits of cranium and gray matter splattered 20 feet up the cracked stucco wall behind him. A young Salvadoran girl stood only feet away. Had she already seen? Matt grabbed her and held her close, shielding her eyes in the sleeve of his windcheater.
This is how Fist Puncher was born. The horror of what one man can inflict upon another, the crime on our streets, roiling under our bedroom windows and carports. “Surf City, USA” had become infested with the fetid human scum of broken homes, the runoff of drug cartels, and gangs of sanctimonious trust fund anarchists.
We had been making videogames since we were children. From the inchoate JM Invaders to World Masters Tennis, a DOS tennis game that featured rosters of the top 500 ranked ATP tennis pros in the world, yet failed to accurately simulate the physics of a bouncing ball. We expressed ourselves in videogames, and the murder left a chorus of questions echoing in our heads.
Fist Puncher began as a story about real people. People we knew, neighbors, friends of friends. Those who brushed with the terror of crime and felt helpless in its tragic stead. It was a game of strategy and reflection. And it was really shitty.
A friend told us we should make it more like Double Dragon, so we did.
After four years, Fist Puncher has finally arrived on the OUYA. Four years of building a game from the ground up, four years of making rookie mistakes and four years of pulling back the curtain on the videogame industry.
Fist Puncher is our love letter to the brawler genre. We never lost sight of the serious issues that inspired the game, but beat ‘em ups are based on a ridiculous concept by definition. So we chose to explore those dark themes in parody.
The characters came to life from the issues we cared about. Is Steroid Jackson just another cheater, and at our essence, aren’t we all? While the Beekeeper gives a human face to the eco-disaster that is colony collapse disorder, Hella Fistgerald puts her foot up the ass of three decades of sexist videogame tropes. Behind it all the Milkman, what goes through his head in the moments before he pulls the trigger?
Last summer we released on Steam and XBox, but we always wanted to see Fist Puncher on OUYA. We love things made by small teams, the smaller the better. Our games are the creation of two people. What we want in goes in. What one of us doesn’t like stays out. The idea that a small crowdfunded team was going to deliver a serious console to the videogame industry really got us excited.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the big boys, too. We’ve eaten the cruelty-free crabcakes at Microsoft parties, smoking cigars and trying to be sympathetic to the wait staff. We’ve sat in the conference room at Sony headquarters, sparkling water leeching the calcium from our teeth as we compare clever t-shirts. Good people all around. But there’s a reason there weren’t 20,000 guitar players in Guns ‘n Roses. Small teams encourage a more personal, edge-of-your-seat experience.
And then there’s local co-op. This used to be a thing, when you had to be in real-life punching distance to play games with your buddies. You had to smell their sweat and put your hands in the same bowl of chips. OUYA champions local co-op like no other console. Fist Puncher was made for couch co-op, so we knew it belonged on OUYA.
What do we play on OUYA? Amazing Frog (still haven’t gotten up to that blimp yet), No Brakes Valet (someone needs to turn this into a movie, McConaughey?) and Towerfall for starters. Everything by Terry Cavanagh is pure genius. Don’t Look Back is a tone poem about loss and reddish things. American Dream’s sly take on popular culture is enough to make your local chapter of the Young Nationalists switch on NPR.
Fist Puncher is the first of two games we’re bringing to the OUYA. The next game is going to be an OUYA exclusive, and is partially inspired by The Man in the High Castle, nuclear disarmament, and 48 Hours. So, yeah, stay tuned for details.
Team2Bit’s Top Ten OUYA Games:
- Amazing Frog
- Potatoman Seeks the Troof
- No Brakes Valet
- Don’t Look Back
- American Dream
- Memrrtiks, Suashem
- Kung Fu FIGHT!
OUYA Lifetime Achievement Award: Towerfall
Who Are Team2Bit?