Taekwondo Game Global Tournament isn't your usual fighter. It's more poised, relying on sudden frantic bursts of kicks and punches rather than chained together combos of super powerful blows.
It's grounded in a real world where people can't jump twenty feet in the air and land a precise kick to the jaw of their foe, a real world where kicking a man repeatedly in the head makes you tired, a real world where running away is a perfectly valid defensive tactic.
And it plays wonderfully. It's a smooth experience, thanks in part to some great touchscreen controls, and in part to that lack of chained moves. There are just less things to go wrong here.
That's not saying that this isn't a deep experience - far from it in fact. The fight system here is clever and nuanced, and while it might require you to rewire decades of arcade brawling experience, when it clicks it's a thing of beauty.Kick, kick, block
The game is essentially a series of one on one scraps either against the computer or a human foe. A bunch of buttons are arranged along the bottom of the screen. On the left you've got your movement controls and block. On the right high attack, low attack, and counter.
Rather than mashing an opponent's face in until a meter has run down to zero, here you're trying to score points. Each attack, when it lands, has a value between one and four. The fighter with the most points at the end of three rounds wins.
There is an energy bar, but here it represents your stamina. Attack or block too much and it'll run out, leaving you vulnerable to a pounding until you've given it time to refill.
It means button bashing is out of the question. It only takes a five or six attacks in quick succession to leave you weak-kneed. Victory here is all about choosing the perfect time to attack, and keeping your opponent at bay.Run away for a bit
You need to concentrate not just on scoring points, but on making sure your opponent doesn't. Blocked attacks don't earn you anything, and a lot of the kicks and punches you throw out won't even land. That's not to say they're wasted - clever use of aggression can make it difficult for the opposition to approach you.
The counter system is the trickiest mechanic to get to grips with, but it opens up a brilliant way of turning defence into attack. It's risky, but if you manage to turn an opponent's attack back on them, you'll bag four points and leave them open to attack.
You can perform different moves by using combinations of the attack and direction buttons. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of the limited move set is key to victory.
The most powerful blows leave you the most exposed in things go wrong, and sometimes the simplest attack is the best course of action.
Kick, throw, kick
Taekwondo Game Global Tournament is a revelation. It's a new kind of fighter that works brilliantly on touchscreen, asking you to learn new and clever ways of kicking people as hard as you possibly can.
There's a solid career mode, training options, and local multiplayer that lets you and a friend link up your devices and try and kick seven shades of crap out of each other.
This is the yardstick by which all future touchscreen fighters should be judged. It's brilliantly presented, easy to pick up, and reveals its surprising depth with each now bout. If you want a smartphone fighter, get it now.