Punch Planet's T-Meter allows for balanced parrying, FADC-like cancels, universal overheads, and fake out mind games

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • May 31, 2018 at 3:22 p.m. PDT | Comments: 25

Back in November 2017, Punch Planet was made available to play on Steam thanks to the Early Access feature. Since then, the indie title has been receiving updates -- one of which included a brand new character.

What's particularly impressive to know is that there are apparently only three developers working on this title. They've given me the opportunity to check this fighter out.

The game definitely feels very similar to the Street Fighter series. As is typical in those games, there is a light punch, medium punch, heavy punch, light kick, medium kick, and heavy kick.

There are also other actions that can be performed with simultaneous button presses and inputs with motions. A grab is performed by pressing light punch and light kick at the same time and certain special moves will trigger with a quarter circle forward and punch, for example.

Similar to Street Fighter 4 and 5, there are a total of three resources that universally need to be paid attention to. They are health bars, E-meter, and T-meter.

A player loses when their health bar is completely depleted. E-meter allows for enhanced versions of special moves and supers. Most fighting game enthusiasts are probably already familiar with these concepts.

Things really start to get interesting when we dive into the mechanics surround the "T-meter." T-meter is generated automatically for both players as time elapses.

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Now when I started playing Punch Planet, I didn't initially put a lot of time into learning how to best utilize the mechanics surrounding the T-meter. I just dove right in with a basic set of fighting game fundamentals.

Against players that properly understood the T-meter mechanics, this ended up being an uphill battle. The game's balance seems to revolve heavily around this unique set of mechanics. Take it from me: you won't get far against other players without learning the ins and outs of how to use your T-meter.

First off, let's talk about the absorb time cancel or ATC for short. Essentially, think of this as a parry from Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.

In order to attempt this, you simply press forward, medium punch, and medium kick at the same time. This will absorb mid, overhead, and low attacks.

Now, it can be argued that the parry in Street Fighter 3: Third Strike was a little too good. It really nullified certain zoning playstyles.

The Punch Planet team deserves some credit for how the ATC is designed. I personally find that the risk vs. reward is more balanced compared to Third Strike's parry.

There are no prerequisites for performing an ATC. Even if you have 0 bars of T-meter available to you, you'll still be able to perform this action.

If you are successful at parrying an attack, you'll not only gain the upper hand on your opponent in terms of frame advantage but you'll also generate some T-meter to work with. This won't give you a full bar, but it's a nice benefit.

If you miss, then some of your T-meter will be depleted. You'll also suffer extra recovery frames leaving you open to a punish.

Click images for animated versions

Now, without using the T-meter mechanic, characters only have access to a basic set of combo abilities and pressure tools. From what I was able to tell, there weren't too many moves that would leave you at frame advantage on block without spending resources (E-meter or T-meter).

The Double Time Cancel, or DTC, allows you to cancel the recovery frames of most attacks. Doing so opens up rushdown and combo possibilities. It's almost like a focus attack dash cancel in Street Fighter 4.

You can even cancel your successful throws. In the case of Roy, this allows you to throw the opponent, DTC the throw, hit the opponent with the OTG (off the ground) properties of his gun special, then cancel into a super.

In order to perform a DTC, you simply press the button or buttons that correspond to the last attack you pulled off with appropriate timing. The execution isn't too complex, but it does take a little getting used to.

From what I can tell, the only moves you can't cancel are light normals, jumping attacks, supers, and the universal overhead. This costs a single bar of T-meter -- which is the highest amount of T-meter that can be spent for a single action.

Utilization of the T-meter will greatly supplement a player's offense and repertoire of flashy combos. It's extremely satisfying when you get these basics down.

By pressing medium punch and medium kick at the same time without holding forward, your character will perform a hop overhead. Once again, this seems to have inspiration from Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.

If you hold the buttons, then it will just be an empty hop. It's a fake out mind game.

Here's a final look at all the stuff you can pull off that involve the T-meter mechanic:

Being that Punch Planet is still in Early Access of Steam, many features of the game are still being developed. There's currently no way to fight against the AI or see how the story unfolds.

While there is a quick match feature, your best bet of finding an opponent to play against is through the Punch Planet Discord group.

As of right now, there are five playable characters with more on the way. They include Roy, Cid, Tyara, Dog (yes, an actual dog), and the recently added G-Agent.

Check out these matches to get a better feel for the gameplay:

Clip sources: BoneSawBaker, PunchPlanetGame, and Bmac1415. Clipped by Strtfghtr88, Arilou_lei, and Bmac1415 respectively.

Video source: Punch Planet YouTube channel.

Punch Planet website.

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