IGN Review of Victorious Boxers: Revolution
We'll admit that we've got a soft spot in our hearts for niche import games. Titles like Eyeshield 21 and the Jump "Stars" series have gotten some solid love on IGN over the years, as the games bring about a totally fresh take on gaming we don't often get in the US. On Wii, we've had a chance to check out the anime football Eyeshield series on our import Wii system, and took the MLB Power Pros US release as a chance to praise the age old series on decades of solid anime-inspired MLB action, but after a few hours with the import copy of Victorious Boxers: Revolution, we weren't too impressed. Now that the game has released stateside, we'll give you our final take on the experience; painful as it may be.
Victorious Boxers: Revolution is based on a Japanese anime by the name of Fighting Spirit, which follows the path of a young boxer named Ippo Makunouchi in his quest to win the world heavyweight boxing title for Kamogawa Gym. Ippo has been faced with a life of bullying and ridicule during high school, so his success at Kamogawa Gym pushes his boxing career to unbelievable heights. Basically, Fighting Spirit (and in turn Victorious Boxers: Revolution) is a classic manga/anime success story centered around boxing. For the sake of gameplay, however, this might as well be the tale of Little Mac himself, as the entire game centers around rising the ranks against boxing's greatest brawlers.
The concept works great, especially when you take into account the possibility of Wii motion when worked into the sport of boxing. What you'll end up with, however, is a game design so riddled with bugs and broken gameplay elements that there are six total controller configurations, but not a single one that plays better than boxers have in the last decade of gaming. We're most certainly behind the concept of a boxing game on Wii (it seems too easy to screw up, in fact), but Victorious Boxers: Revolution's execution kills the experience to say the least.
On paper everything looks fine. You'll control Ippo or any of the other 24 fighters in the game via analog stick or controller tilt. Depending on configuration, holding the controllers in boxing's "ready stance" will act as the center of all game control, tilting both controllers simultaneously to duck and move, or throwing punches with the Wii-mote or nunchunk controller to execute punches. The game reads straight jabs, hooks, and uppercuts, then using those basic motions to pull off combos and super punches. The motion recognition, however, is extremely faulty, failing to recognize motion worse than the already somewhat sketchy Wii Sports Boxing. In Wii Sports Boxing enough practice could lead to a pretty entertaining experience, as you had to learn exactly what the game wanted in each specific punch. With Victorious Boxers, jabs are doable, hooks execute about half the time, and uppercuts often result in hooks or jabs, rather than the intended punch.
It's pretty obvious that this was a known issue as well, since the developer added multiple options for control to try and get around the faulty punch tracking. In "pointer mode" the game actually changes from motion-based boxing to a more DS-like on-screen cursor game, having players hold A and then trace left/right, up/down, or at angles to perform the different punches. Right to left, for example, would execute a right hook, while left to right would perform a left hook. It works, but IR control is hardly the ideal way to play arcade boxing that moves at amazing speeds, so players will want to drop the Wii functionality altogether and stick with either GameCube or Classic Controller support.
Even then, the general mid-fight bugs still plague the experience pretty heavily. As one of the biggest issues in the game, the camera is nearly broken, as it pops and moves with a total lack of fluidity, doesn't always keep the rival boxer in frame, and won't move at all when you're in a blocking or lean state. This means that any time your rival moves while you're covering or leaning, the camera will let him slide off frame. To make matters worse, the player is essentially controlled by the camera view, so once you pull out of a block you'll need to wait for the camera to self-right in order for your fighter to face the opponent again. If you block, the camera freezes again, and if you throw punches they'll automatically punch forward, rather than in the direction of your opponent.
The overall flow of a match is pretty intense though, and if you can work through the annoying camera issues general boxing can still be pretty fun at times. With the action moving at such a fast rate, however, it'll often boil down to button-mashing (or really fast air boxing, which also looks hilarious), and the game does very little to affect your player's stamina for throwing too much or being reckless with his punches. When playing against AI, some boxers attribute themselves to different overall styles, and for some reason you'll sometimes come across fighters that won't work the body at all, which means you can block and duck down to avoid all punches, popping up above their waistline only enough to punch to their gut. Play against a human player and you've already got the tactic laid out for you: Punch until they block, and then move the camera so they can't hit you once they stop.
As far as the overall presentation goes, Victorious Boxers: Revolution doesn't do a whole lot to add depth to the experience outside of the main story mode and sparring battles. The story mode is entirely linear, so even if you flawlessly destroy a rival in a match the story will continue on to say you were injured during the fight and need to climb your way back to the top for a rematch. The 25 boxers and 10 venues add some bit of depth, and an interesting stat-morphing system allows you to change how you want to use the boxer pre-match (based on power, speed, and stamina, with each affecting the others), which is a great idea for vs. bouts. The graphical style is interesting, but the anime-like design also lends itself to a ton of aliasing and weird art glitches throughout. The game also runs only in 480i. Top that off with a lack of in-between animations, some pretty horrible crowd animations, and VO that is disjointed and often overlaps, and you've got a game that simply needs a ton of polish in virtually every area.
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