Punch Hero review - free swipe-based boxing for Android

Punch Hero is a free to play boxing game by Gamevil that recently launched on Android after spending a few months on iOS. The goofy anime art style belies a heated fighting game with sharp controls that rely on timing, aggression, and precision.

Using a series of swipes and taps, players bob and weave around competitors, delivering precise blows while dodging and protecting their own body. Things get a little crazy once you start getting decked out with robot fists, explosive rage-powered super-moves, and outlandish hairdos. Of course, in-app purchases can always speed up your acquisition of these items. Most of your progress will be through the arcade mode, though there’s also a Zombie Mode, where you have to knock out as many undead boxers as possible before going down yourself.

Graphics and Audio

The style of Punch Hero is charmingly ridiculous, with plenty of exaggerated expression (especially when someone gets hit). Damage to the face shows up very nicely as welts and bruises. Despite the cartoony feel, there’s a lot of really great animation that’s highly visible when things go into slow motion after dodging a punch or landing a knock-out strike.

Though some parts of Punch Hero seem low-quality, like the cardboard cut-outs that compose the crowd, it all fits in well with the overall style. Though the textures are simple, there are a few impressive full-screen effects employed when you’re down on the mat or playing the zombie mode. The only real graphical issue I experienced was some weird discoloration behind your fighter’s shoulder joints, which can be pretty distracting when that’s what you’re looking at through most of the game. One of the cute additional features of Punch Hero is the ability to sub in your own images for new faces of fighters - perfect for those days you want to let out some aggression against your boss.

The audio is pretty simple. Punches deliver fairly standard thwak noises, and the soundtrack only kicks in briefly between levels and after winning a fight. Most of the time you’re listening to the roar of the crowd and the flashes of cameras.

Gameplay and controls

Punch Hero takes players through a gauntlet of 22 fighters, each with progressively higher difficulty and varying qualities in jab, hook and uppercut skill, as well as mental and physical toughness. Every match, win or lose, is rated based on your offensive and defensive skill, resulting in a gold reward, which can be spent on new costumes, skills, or training. You’ll also earn experience points which allow you to level up and customize your fighter’s strengths. There are in-app purchases employed to get folks to buy stuff a little sooner. In-app purchases get a little tacky for me when you can just buy your next level-up.

I was particularly happy with the way Punch Hero controlled. Swiping left and ride executes hooks, diagonal upwards swipes for uppercuts, taps for jabs, and long press with two fingers puts up the guard. The only virtual buttons are dodging buttons along the bottom, which I think could be easily implemented as downward diagonal swipes. Gestures are only region sensitive as far as left and right goes; ideally, I’d like to be able to go high and low as well, but that could make things more complicated than they need to be. When you’re knocked down, you have to tap the screen as quickly as possible in order to stand back up before the ref counts to ten.

The gameplay is a ton of fun, and had me coming back regularly for a few bouts. Things get challenging very quickly, but after awhile, you get into the rhythm of things. The only feature I found lacking was any multiplayer support, which is too bad since Gamevil already has their social network plugged into Punch Hero already.


  • Fast, challenging gameplay
  • Fun graphic style


  • Lack of multiplayer

Bottom line

Yes, Punch Hero has in-app purchases, but they aren’t particularly obnoxious about them, and some of the virtual items actually look kind of fun and worth the money if you end up spending a lot of time playing. Playing against bots all of the time could quickly get boring though, even if you’re able to slap a real person’s face on a fighter. To keep things fresh, there really needs to be some brand of online multiplayer to keep people interested in playing longer than a week or two.

Simon Sage
Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at simon@futurenet.com.