Review: Boxing Champs (Switch)

Passable pugilism.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 07/12/2019 09:45 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Solid gameplay; great music; lots of character customization options
Poison Mushroom for...
Over too quickly; learning curve is too easy; mediocre art style

After all these years, there just hasn’t been anything like Punch-Out!!. Nintendo’s beloved boxing franchise is the gold standard against which every title featuring the sport will be forever measured. Unfortunately, it’s been a few years since the last entry in that particular series, leaving plenty of room for a new contender to step into the ring. Boxing Champs from Raz Games attempts to fill that void, but it’s a bit more Glass Joe than Little Mac.

Boxing Champs is a top-down title in which players create their own boxer in order to climb the ranks and earn all four belts in Career mode. Players are given a plethora of customization options allowing them to alter the appearance of their fighter as well as their ratings. After each win, players are given more points which can be divvied up among those various ratings; Footwork affects the boxer’s speed in the ring, Chin affects the damage taken from each hit, Toughness affects the fighter’s ability to get up after a knock down, etc. These alterations have a noticeable impact on the gameplay as the player progresses. As such, the game’s very first encounters are actually some of the most difficult, as it’s much more difficult to get back up from a knock down before you’ve adjusted your fighter’s Toughness.

The game features two different control options: each button on the right Joy-Con controller offers a different type of hit, but players can also use the right control stick to throw punches at any time, as well. I personally found the button option to be more intuitive, but the ability to alternate between the two options without having to pull-up the menu is very convenient. Regardless of which control option you choose, quite a bit of the game’s strategy is knowing when to keep your gloves up and when to find an opening. Fights can last up to three rounds, with each lasting three minutes. Lower ranked opponents are more susceptible to knock down, which means they tend to last significantly less time in the ring, but the game’s later opponents don’t get gassed quite so easily, and tend to last the full length. These fights can be a bit exhausting, but there’s a definite sense of satisfaction to be had from winning each of the game’s belts.

Unfortunately, that sense of satisfaction is dulled by the game’s overall ease. While the later matches can be a bit taxing, once I got the hang of things, I didn’t lose. After two quick defeats while I was learning the ropes, I managed to defeat every other boxer in the game without taking another loss. The closest I came was a win that was determined by the judges. The game’s learning curve just isn’t paced out very well. Career mode’s four belts are all lumped together so that you play them in succession after climbing the ranks. It would have been nice to see those four belts stretched out better, or maybe spread out across different circuits. At the very least, the game needed some additional difficulty options. As it is, Career mode ends all too quickly, and there just isn’t anything to do after that besides challenging the former belt-holders to rematches. The game does offer a multiplayer mode that can be played with a single pair of Joy-Cons, but it seems unlikely that the game will manage to keep anyone playing for too long.

The game’s graphics aren’t much to write home about, either. It’s a fairly bare bones presentation that evokes a lot of the current arcade games one might find at Chuck E. Cheese or Dave and Busters. The fighters do sustain some damage throughout the game, however, adding a nice extra dimension to the graphics. Where the presentation truly excels, however, is the music. Each of the game’s five arenas has its own unique track, and they fit the boxing motif quite well.

Boxing Champs is no Punch-Out!!. The game’s Career mode can be finished in just over an hour or so, and once players have cleared it, there just isn’t any incentive to come back to the game. The title desperately needed additional circuits, a story mode or something else to make things last a bit longer. With so little content, most fans will find the game’s current asking price on eShop a bit too steep to rationalize. That said, it’s an enjoyable title while it lasts. The gameplay itself is strong, the controls are intuitive and the music is terrific. Raz Games’ latest is certainly a decent contender, but it could have used a little more time at the gym.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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