My last experience with a boxing game was Fight Night on the PS2 released back in 2004. So suffice to say, it’s not a genre of sports I’ve followed with any kind of consistency.
Even so, it’s one I’ve respected thanks in no small part due to my love of the boxing anime series, “Hajime no Ippo.”(still running!)
While the developers at Vivid Games make an admirable attempt at bringing the console boxing experience to the Vita, it falls short of its championship aspirations.
As typical for a boxing game, the game begins with a customization of a brand new boxer as the player is given a multitude of nationality options.
Unfortunately, the boxer that I chose to be from Korea looked as much Korean as Wesley Snipes does a native German. There were also very limited options to make him look the way I wanted him to as even something basic as the hair options ranged from terrible to “is that even hair?”
After my boxer was created, it was off to the small tutorial where I learned to throw various different types of punches and learned other techniques like blocking and timed dodging.
I felt right at home using the right analog sticks as the different punches and never felt the need to use any kind of touch-pad controls.
Before I took my first entrance into the ring, I explored the training options to earn perks that could be equipped to enhance my fighter but found the three training mini-games to be glorified sequences of QTE (quick time events) that felt immediately dull and repetitive after only the first session.
Taking my boxer into the career mode, I found myself thrown into a tournament where the player can fight their way to the belt by besting other boxers in a series of nine bouts. After each fight, I was awarded upgrade points which could be distributed to Power, Stamina and Speed, which allowed me to see slight improvements to my boxer as I progressed up the ranks.
Using quick dodges and landing some crucial counter hits, I managed to take the first tournament out of three with ease.
When I got to the second tournament, things changed as my dodge attacks were no longer effective as my opponents dodged those counter attacks themselves and delivered a devastating blow, effectively robbing me of my greatest weapon.
With no explanation as to how I could counter a “dodge-dodge-attack”, I was left to fight a superior boxer and lost even after getting up from being knocked down four times.
While I don’t mind difficulty spikes in games, the one present between the two tournaments is the difference between night and day, as I felt the transition could have been made smoother with some advanced tutorials.
There is also the option for a quick fight for those interested in a fast bout in their choice of venue but it is just that and nothing more.
Also, even though Real Boxing promises online multiplayer in the form of fights against other human players, in over a half dozen attempts to connect to a fellow player, I was unable to find a match even after leaving the matchmaking on for over ten minutes at a time.
It’s unclear if there just isn’t a decent sized player base for the online multiplayer or if there’s some sort of connection issue that makes it difficult to connect with others, but I was unable to test this aspect of the title for myself.
Real Boxing delivers on the promise of a boxing game that looks and plays like it belongs on a console. However, it is hampered by a serious lack of content in the form of lackluster customization options along with a limited career and training mode that it feels like an incomplete game.
Without the online multiplayer to sustain the title outside of its short lived single player campaign, there just isn’t that much game here and even though it’s priced well at a modest $9.99, I feel it’s a title for the hardcore boxing game fans that have been waiting for a dose of action on the go and nobody else.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.