Missing the glory days of Punchout on the NES? Smack Boxing is here to try to bring back some of the warm fuzzies of the old behind-the-back boxing games.
Full Control submitted Smack Boxing several months ago, and I actually recommended that they spend some more time developing the game before submitting it. We do this from time to time with smaller developers, because frankly, we generally aren’t fans of giving out bad reviews, especially when it involves striving devs trying to make a living. I’m glad I did this, because Smack Boxing provides a much longer and entertaining gameplay experience than previously.
The game features some nice colorful, cel-shaded graphics, with decent, albeit a little choppy, animation. The graphics scheme works well for the game though, and helps match the cartoony feel of Punchout. They’re not as crisp as one would like, with the animations looking like rendered video, but still good. The crowd sounds great, and surges with each punch that is thrown. Unfortunately, the punches don’t feel all that powerful, and the same exact sound is used for every single one.
One of the most disappointing things in this game is the lack of personality or variation in how the different characters fight. One of the joys of Punchout was both the silly intros, and the varied special moves between players. There are 8 challengers, and the only one that stands out is the final terminator-like character. This one stands out for two reasons: 1. He’s damn hard to beat. 2. There’s actually an awesome mechanical sounds when he throws punches. Other than that, the only difference between the characters is their different stats and different appearance. Granted, I did enjoy beating the crap out of Santa, but a little “ho ho OOOF!” as I sock him in the gut would have been nice. It’s this lack of variety that tends to dry up the gameplay after a short while.
One other complaint I have is the occasional lack of responsiveness in the controls. I love when games offer both button and swipe controls, but the in this case the button controls are extremely unresponsive at times, and the swipe controls, although better, also fall to this issue. Quick jabs are so important in boxing games like this, and timing is everything. When you go for a jab, and nothing happens, chances are you’ll take a nice fist to chin. Not good.
There are 4 tiers of difficulty to defeat, and the later ones are certainly tough! If you thought the robot was hard to defeat on easy (and you probably), just wait till you get to hard or (oh god help us) insane! You unlock new difficulty tiers and groups as you progress, and it shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so of play to reach extreme mode. It will probably take you much longer to defeat this mode, though!
Presentation & Graphics
The cel-shaded engine works very well for this game, and stands out among other iPhone games. The animations aren’t as fluid as one would like, and the animation appears a bit blurry at times.
Crowd sounds are good, but everything else is pretty lackluster. Needs different punch sounds aside from the one you hear over and over. At least give a different sound for the different types of punches!
It’s fun to knock guys out, until the controls stop responding, which seems to happen at the wrong moment every time. It’s good that there are two control methods, but not good when neither works too well. Game is still fun though.
The first 3/4 of the game is fairly simple to defeat, but the last tier should prove difficult, and provide more gameplay. Unfortunately, without a career mode, multiplayer, or any sort of scoring system, there’s not really a reason to come back and play once you’ve beaten it.
Smack Boxing is a good game, but with more personality, tighter controls, and a deeper game experience, it could be a great game. However, in spite of the flaws I did have a fun time, and I’m interested to see what kinds of updates are released in the future. The game may be a bit overpriced at $2.99 right now, but more features in the future could round it out nicely.