Review: Real Boxing

Get ready to rumblllllllllllllllllllle.

Up till now, the Vita has lacked a definitive boxing game and fortunately, this new (and only) domestic entry turns out to be a strong contender for handled audiences. Real Boxing sticks to straight-up melee fundamentals. No story, no rivals as a padded element, and no gimmicky over-the-top finishers. Just pure and conventional gameplay. Developer Vivid Games probably wanted to stick to keeping the premise on the straight and narrow, certain areas could have been better suited with an added layer of depth.

Let’s start with the the fighter settings. You can pick your nationality and one of eight fighters already in the game, with the option to change the name.  After you have picked the base of your fighting profile you can pick the color/style of your; gloves, shorts, hair, and tattoos.  You won’t have access to all the options as you’ll need to buy them with prize money with fights or have them gifted to you from “near”.  For the casual gamer that might sound fine, but for gamers how like to put a bit more time in their titles,the lack of in depth character creation leaves you wanting more than a rebranded heavyweight.

The profile setup isn’t long, which is a fair trade off for the lack of in-depth options.  This means more time fighting. What I noticed right away was the gym.  Here you can hit the heavy bag, jump rope, swing at the speed bag, and spar in an effort to get a feel for the controls and the improvements to your abilities.   In fact, the first three options mentioned, are great ways to unlock perks that can help you in a match.  The control choices provided are core stick/button/triggers and touch screen.  The core controls are solid giving the ability to either use the right stick to throw all punches or the d-pad and face buttons to control the left and right arms respectively.  The touch controls are fun and actively had me throwing my shoulders as if I were trading shots.  The problem, however, is the balancing of the two.  While the touch screen feels a bit more immersive, movement towards and away from your opponent feels randomized, making critical throws wif big from time to time.  I looked through the digital manual to see if it would explain how, as the tutorial may have missed it, but low and behold, nothing. Although the core controls make up for this with the left analog stick, blocking, dodging, and clinching feel easier to pull off with the touch layout.  Especially sense you can’t hold a block and go into a dodge like you can with touch.  Leaving you to deiced which feels better for how you want to play.  If you want total control, go core, otherwise, if you want to just throw punches while letting Jesus take the wheel on positioning, then the touch screen is for you.

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Controls aside, the gameplay is quite entertaining. A neat feature is a record of your wins, losses, and daws, that also display on the home screen of the games page before start up. By default you run 6 rounds for 2 minutes a match.  You can opt to max out to 12 rounds for 3 minutes each, or 3 rounds and 1 minutes if you’re pressed for time.  I went prime time with my fights, but they hardly go past two rounds when earning the first belt.  That’s to say that the game is easy. Or at least the first tournament is, making you feel more like you’re fighting in full safety gear. The difficulty ramps up if you haven’t tried your hand at the challenges given to you before a match.  The completion of which earns you more money and upgrade points to boost speed, stamina, or strength.  Stringing combos together feels almost natural, more so if the training mini games are any indication of what would work best in a fight.  I could literally play this game all day, but I would need to turn the audio off at some point, as the commentary gets stale fast.   You can only hear “That’s a solid hit!” so many times before you start wondering if the commentator just recorded a few phrases and left them on loop ringside.

The multiplayer has the standard quick match and a really cool tournament mode that has you compete within a time frame to be considered a champion.  I might want to boost my fighter a bit though as my first match wasn’t so much a fight but an awkward public flogging in which I can only thank the devs for not adding a teabag feature. Small side note: if you’re doing well enough in a match and your opponent is hesitant to continue, you will automatically taunt him, well played. I never really except to be wowed like I’m playing a triple A console title, on a handheld, so the minimal visible character damage is to be expected.  At least from an indie dev (Vivid Games) whose portfolio is stacked with iOS and driod titles, with one PSP mini.  But this is a title with potential. A little bit of polish here, some tweaked mechanics there, and a more expansive set of dialogue and character options, and you’ve got a title that could possibly challenge EA to step into the handheld ring.