The name of Spencer Winson's Punch Wizard is a little misleading—the starring wizard can jump, kick, and jump kick, too. Free to play through itch.io for Windows and macOS, Punch Wizard is a tiny platformer created mashups of real action figures and stop motion animation.
Our punching—and kicking—wizard hero is a cyborg, so, it's part human firefighter and part generic Gundam mech, put together with parts from a "busted up Transformer," Winson told Waypoint. He's guided through his mission from his Cyber Bae, which is a rockin' combination of a Yellow Ranger action figure and an off-brand Gundam head.
Though the game itself is a little clunky—punching, kicking, and jumping don't always work as expected—it's charm is in the quirk. Stop motion animation is a process not particularly popular in videogame design, likely because of just how long it takes to put everything together. "By far the most time-consuming work was removing the backgrounds from the photos I shot for the animation," Winson said. "A poor lighting setup meant traditional chroma keying wouldn't work. My girlfriend Jessica spent many many hours helping me digitally cut out the backgrounds."
Punch Wizard feels like an homage to games that were once willing to experiment with the application—like Mortal Kombat, which notably used stop motion animation for some of its characters.
Two levels of kicking, punching, and fun voice acting lead up to a boss battle with none other than Jurassic Park's Young Tyrannosaurus Rex toy—with realistic dinosaur skin and a Dino-Damage wound! (At least, I'm pretty confident there.) Wizard Punch's dino baddie is, weirdly enough, the easiest enemy in the game. But I'm glad he's there, because dinosaurs are good boys.
Punch Wizard is available for free on itch.io.