Spartan Fist is described as a 'first-person puncher', and for better or worse, that's exactly what it is. Taking place within a series of procedurally-generated arenas, the game is reasonably fun for short bursts, but thanks to some dodgy controls and a distinct lack of variety, it ultimately fails to pack a punch.
Taking inspiration from ARMS, the Switch version of Spartan Fist sets itself apart by allowing you to control the game's combat using the Joy-Con's motion controls. Sadly though, it doesn't quite feel as responsive as we'd like, and you'll often find yourself flailing your hands around in a wild attempt to gain the upper hand. We found that the standard controls work much better, with the left fist mapped to ZL and the right to ZR.
The actual combat itself is pretty fun. You have three different stances available to you from the start: Duelist, Brawler, and Updraft. The three are different enough that you'll want to switch up from time to time, with the Duelist stance offering a slower, yet beefier form of attack, and the Updraft stance giving you the ability to launch your enemies in the air. Additionally, your foes will often block in the form of an impenetrable shield encircling their body, and in these instances, you're forced to switch up your stance in order to break their defence.
To assist in the combat, the game employs a lock-on mechanic that automatically engages once you start laying into an enemy. Unfortunately, this is where the game really falls apart. Since it's a first-person experience, the instinct to move the right analogue stick means that you're constantly switching between enemies during lock-on, and it can be infuriating when you're just trying to focus on one at a time. To exacerbate this, the game seemingly decides when and where to use lock-on for you, and this really breaks the flow of the gameplay when you're not expecting it.
The arenas are mapped out in a very similar way to games like The Binding of Isaac and Enter the Gungeon in that you'll have a couple of different paths to take once you clear the area of its enemies, eventually making your way to the boss. In between the arenas, the game will dish out randomly-generated perks, which might be an entirely different fist with special attributes or a power-up that you can dunk your current fists into, endowing them with elemental energy. Unlike other titles, however, the power-ups in Spartan Fist simply don't feel unique enough to warrant their inclusion, and each playthrough of the game just feels like the exact same experience as the last one.
Ultimately, Spartan Fist is a pretty shallow experience for the most part. Visually, the game is really on point, and the pixelated graphics look great, especially when fountains of blocky blood (or rainbows, if you wish) fill the screen when you take down your foes. Sadly, the gameplay that forms the foundation of the experience just isn't up to scratch with this one.