"Get up. Come on, this isnít the time to be lazy. You think mastering the Boxing game on Wii Sports gives you the right to start slacking off? You think youíre ready for this fight, donít you? See that guy across the ring? Thatís no Mii character. Thatís Ichiro Miyata, and he will crush your face in if you donít defend yourself. There are even stronger opponents waiting for their chance as well. You nervous? You should be. To be honest, you donít have much of a chance here. Maybe yo..."
Get up. Come on, this isnít the time to be lazy. You think mastering the Boxing game on Wii Sports gives you the right to start slacking off? You think youíre ready for this fight, donít you? See that guy across the ring? Thatís no Mii character. Thatís Ichiro Miyata, and he will crush your face in if you donít defend yourself. There are even stronger opponents waiting for their chance as well. You nervous? You should be. To be honest, you donít have much of a chance here. Maybe your face will last a few minutes before it gets punched into raw hamburger. Or maybe you think your skills are actually good enough to earn you a victory. Ha. Good luck with that, kid. Youíre not playing Wii Sports anymore. This is a Victorious Boxers game.
Wait, whatís that? Youíve never heard of the Victorious Boxers series?! Unfortunately, thatís not surprising. Considering the popularity of Fight Night and other mainstream boxing game titles, itís little wonder that Victorious Boxers is utterly obscure. If anything, theyíre better known as the video game adaptations of Fighting Spirit (thatís Hajime no Ippo to the Japanese), a popular anime and manga. Donít worry about trying to memorize all the charactersí names and histories; Victorious Boxers: Revolution explains the basic story via cutscenes (which are thankfully skippable and feature voice acting, for once!) between each match. All you need to know is that youíre playing as Ippo Makunouchi, a teenaged boxing prodigy that has to work his way up through the ranks to earn as much fame and glory as possible. With tons of other boxers itching for their shot at greatness, Ippoís got some work to do.
So do you, for that matter. If you think you can beat this game as easily as the Wii Sports version of boxing, youíre going to get your ass kicked when you get past the first few matches. These opponents are quick. They donít just stand around and leave themselves open to your attacks (unless youíve put the difficulty level on Easy), nor are they forgiving of any blunders that you might make. Missing a punch can leave you wide open for an onslaught of jabs, hooks, uppercuts, and whatever other combos our opponents can dish out. If you actually want to beat your opponent, youíll have to spend time learning how to sway and duck to avoid attacks. There are subtler things to look for, like your foeís body movements and his attack range. Donít count yourself out, though; with each successful blow you land, your boxerís energy gauge will fill up. Get it maxed out, and you can perform an assortment of match-ending supermoves. The trick is balancing out your offensive and defensive tactics; once youíve gotten the basics down, all youíll need to do use them to exploit your opponentís weaknesses.
Your most dangerous adversary, however, isnít even a character. Itís the controls. Victorious Boxers: Revolution offers six controls schemes, and none of them are particularly impressive. Wii Sports veterans will likely choose the default Swing (WiiMote + Nunchuck) option, only to find that it leaves them with virtually no control over your characterís movements. Instead of allowing you to duck and sway, it basically turns your fighter into a target; all you can do is frantically punch and hope you get a knockout before your opponent does. The secondary Swing option rectifies this by allowing you control your characterís movements via the Control Stick on the Nunchuck, but that can be tricky when youíre trying use the attachment to throw jabs. Even if you somehow get used to the basics, youíll find that the game has difficulty reading your movements. Crosses are fine, but the uppercuts, hooks, and even regular jabs can prove unwieldy. Finding your characterís range can be difficult as well; despite him turning translucent at the beginning of the fight, the occasionally jerky camera angles can make hitting your opponent awkward.
The Pointer control schemes eliminate the movement-based combat mechanics (arguably the biggest selling point of the game) entirely by making you trace lines across the screen for your punches to followÖ Yeah, that plays about as ridiculously as it sounds. You know what? Just forget about the motion controls. If youíve got a Gamecube controller stashed away, this is a good excuse to dig it out. The button layout can be a pain, but itís a lot better than wildly swinging your WiiMote to no avail. But if you want something a bit more practical, you might want to invest in a Classic Controller. Since it uses the Control Stick and buttons for defending and attacking respectively, youíll find that the attachment offers the most reliable controls available. Too bad you canít alter the button mapping, though; that would have made things so much easier.
Speaking of missed chances, Victorious Boxers: Revolution doesnít have much in the way of extras. Sure, youíve got the Story Mode, but youíll unlock every character and his special moves with only one playthrough. After that, youíll likely spend the rest of your time in Sparring Mode, where you can alter the match length, the amount of allowed knockouts, and other minor details before letting the characters clash. You can further customize your character by tweaking his abilities; for example, increasing his attack power will reduce his speed and stamina. But if youíre really obsessive over your performance in the ring, you can view your stats in the Data Book. That little feature shows off graphs of minor details, like the amount of punches youíve thrown or the percentage of matches youíve won via knockout.
Whereís the replay incentive? Where are all the extra features? Couldnít there have been at least a punching bag mini-game? How about unlockable artwork? Or how about (dare I even dream it) online multiplayer? Itís not like the extra stages and music tracks are worth looking into. The soundtrack is forgettable; the only emotionally stirring part of them matches is the utterly annoying commentator and their pre-recorded lines. Youíll can only take ďMAKUNOUCHI!Ē and ďWill he get up? Can he get up?!Ē so many times before you delve into the Options Menu and finally shut the guy up. The stages are just as bad. Some of them feature little details, like having the charactersí reflections show up in the wall-mounted mirrors or having training equipment stowed in the corners. The majority of them, however, are far below the standards of what youíd expect from the Wii. The rings themselves are fine, but the crowds are little more than cardboard cutouts with two frames of animation. The fighters end up stealing the show; all 25 characters are portrayed true to their manga counterparts, right down to their heavily outlined muscles, fluid movements, and the blood pouring out of their cel-shaded noses.
Sorry, boxing fans. This isnít the follow-up to Wii Sports youíve been waiting for. Sorry, Victorious Boxers veterans. This game is a step back from the titles you know and love. This was the seriesí chance to shine, and itís been doomed to obscurity yet again. The roster is impressive, and the story can be interesting. The combat is intense, fast-paced, and far more involved than any other boxing game on the system. The controls are just too unpolished; unless youíve got a lot of patience or a Classic Controller handy, this game will get old quickly. The utter lack of extra content and bland graphics donít help much either. Poor Ippo. The Victorious Boxers lost this round.
Community review by disco (November 14, 2007)
Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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