For all of the hard work, physical preparation, and learned technique that goes into high-level combat sport, it's all about two basic things: hitting and not getting hit. It's an appropriate analogy with which to start a review of One Finger Death Punch 2, where an increasingly elaborate fighting game plays out through just two buttons.
Y and A. Attack left and attack right. That's all you need to learn in order to play Silver Dollar Games' chaotic sequel. Mastering it, on the other hand, will take considerable practice and attention. Your little kung fu stickman stands ready at the centre of the screen. Enemies fly at you from left and right, with varying load-outs, combat styles, and stamina levels. When they encroach into your two striking zones, the appropriate directional button will land an attack. Strike too early or too late and you'll sustain a hit. Whatever you do, you mustn't button mash, as the game repeatedly warns you.
The basics of the game don't really change beyond the odd unlockable special attack or bonus section, such as a horse-riding jaunt through enemy lines, or a unique face-off that requires you to ditch the previous advice and mash those buttons. What really varies here is the quantity, speed, and nature of the opposition forces. Some will arrive with multiple hit bars, requiring successive taps to dispatch. Others will throw weapons from outside of striking range, which will either be blocked, dodged, or returned with interest depending on their colour. Still other enemies will initiate a brief QTE section where you must rapidly match a series of button prompts, like a demented beat-matching game.
Indeed, there's a definite rhythm action vibe to the whole game. While you're not matching the beat of the music as such, there's a familiar zen-like state into which you'll find yourself slipping during your best runs. When you successfully switch your brain to neutral, relax the grip on your Switch, and unleash a volley of unreturned strikes, One Finger Death Punch 2 is at its absolute best.
Things get rather intense as more and more variables are introduced, though you can always crank the speed down (or up) a notch with the left directional buttons. Countless incidental details and modifiers are introduced to keep things varied, including range-extending weapons, guns, and one-off special finishers.
It's not a flawless combo, though. While the game's basic graphics are knowingly naff and amateurish, they're still, well, a bit naff and amateurish. There's a deliberate Flash game aesthetic at play here that helps with its speed and legibility, especially in handheld mode, but it's not pretty. True, the developer mixes things up and keeps you on your toes with new twists and additions – as well as a couple of bonus modes (including an endless Gauntlet mode and co-op multiplayer) – but you're still essentially pressing the same two buttons again and again.
Thankfully, it's always an awful lot of fun to press those two buttons. One Finger Death Punch 2 offers a one-two combo that might be simple, but boy is it effective.