Tag Archives: Fighting

‘Golden Axe 3’ and ‘Streets of Rage 3’ Coming to App Store Next Week

It was just last week since Golden Axe 2 and Streets of Rage 2 were released, but that doesn’t stop Sega from releasing the classic sequels to each of the games.

According to SEGA’s Facebook post and blog post (scroll to the bottom), the third installment of both the Golden Axe and Streets of Rage franchises will be coming to the App Store in the coming days.  Streets of Rage 3 will be coming later this week, while Golden Axe 3 arriving sometime next week.

There is no specified date for each launch, but each game should be arriving anytime soon.  They look to utilize Sega’s emulator that has been used on all of their classic games, and while I’m not a huge fan of the whole emulator business, it’s a nice way for App Store gamers to relive their past.

If the price is consistent with their previous launches, look for Golden Axe 3 and Streets of Rage 3 to land somewhere around the $2.99 price range.

Fight Night Champion: A Decisive Knockout, Despite a Few Sloppy Punches

Although the App Store has been host to a handful of boxing games (and I’ve tried most of them if not all), until now I haven’t seen a title which translates the “sweet science” to the iOS platform in a satisfying way. And even though EA Sports’ “Fight Night Champion” isn’t quite perfect, it still manages to be a very enjoyable game, and one that proves that this genre is entirely possible within the unique set of challenges and development parameters which iOS gaming provides.

Previous boxing titles for iPhone have usually been Punchout-style, cartoony types of games whose gameplay revolved more on memorizing enemy patterns than on dynamic, real-time responses to the opponent’s attacks, and on executing well-timed combos and power shots.  When the emphasis has been placed on realism with other previous iOS boxing titles (which has been fairly rare), the  controls and enemy AI have been lackluster at best. And obviously, you can’t have a good fighting game without adequate controls and with computer opponents who possess all the cunning and savagery of a sock puppet. However, Fight Night rises far above the rest of the pack, by translating the robust control system of the console titles to iOS, allowing for a wide range of movement, blocking, and attacks.  This transition, from a dual-stick controller to the confines of a small touch-screen, presents its own set of challenges which the control system must compensate for; however the developers have done an admirable job in porting the Fight Night experience to the touch-screen. Players who have spent some time with a Fight Night title on a home console system will undoubtedly have an easier time picking up this game’s controls than will the uninitiated, but despite a moderate learning curve, these are controls which any user can master in a few sessions.

Basically, the controls work like this: The left and right half of your screen control each respective fist of your boxer. A tap will make your fighter throw a jab or a cross, either low or high depending on if you tap the top or bottom half of the screen. Hooks are initiated by swiping horizontally in the quadrant of the screen which corresponds to where you are trying to attack, whereas uppercuts are accomplished with a vertical swipe. Moving your fighter around the ring is done by tilting your iDevice in the corresponding direction. You block by holding both thumbs on either the upper or lower half of the screen, and lean into your blocks by sliding both thumbs in the direction you wish to lean. The leaning is a little awkward, and definitely takes some getting used to.  It also makes it a little unnecessarily hard to successfully parry your opponent’s attack, meaning that a superior offense will usually be your best defense. On the whole though, the controls work remarkably well, and accommodate a variety of possible boxing styles which you may wish to employ. Just don’t count on being able to reliably pull off parry/counterattack moves without a lot of practice (but don’t worry, you can still inflict some punishment.)

Likes

Controls That Work: This is really the number one requirement on this platform, especially for a fighting game. Although I wouldn’t call the controls exactly seamless, I believe the developers have done the best job possible in making the control scheme work on this platform. It takes a bit to get used to, but with just a little perseverance I was able to get into the swing of things and hold my own. After two or three fights I was putting combos together and sucker-punching my opponents with haymakers quite satisfyingly.

Dynamic Brawling: To me, the fun of Fight Night titles has always been that they entail concentration and endurance, along with the ability to react to your opponent in the moment. Although it’s possible to come out of the gates swinging and achieve quick knockouts in some matches, for the most part you’re going to have to withstand a few rounds toe-to-toe with another fighter. The constant back and forth of trying to avoid your enemy’s attacks while looking for their openings with varied attacks is simultaneously exhilarating and hypnotically relaxing. In my best, most intense fights, I find myself slipping into a sort of Zen state. This isn’t to say the game is any cake walk. Even on easy difficulty the enemy AI is nicely engaging, and the level of skill required ramps up appropriately on medium and hard.

Satisfyingly Visceral: Although Fight Night Champion is probably not going to end up being that one game you show off to all your friends because its graphics are so amazing, they’re still pretty good. Fighters get bruised and banged up progressively over the course of the fight, and the character models look adequately realistic but not awesomely beautiful in their level of detail. There are twenty boxers in all, along with the ability to create your own customized fighter. The eighteen fighters based on real-life boxers look enough like their actual counterparts that it shouldn’t upset any purists, and there are enough options on the character creation menu that you can… sort of get your boxer to look how you want. The sound is satisfying, with your harder shots producing a nice hearty thud on your opponent. The prerecorded fight commentary (voiced by the venerable Joe Tessitore) is a little bland, but there’s a good bit of variety to the commentator’s script, and you can always turn him off in the audio options if the play-by-play gets irksome after a while.

Dislikes

Janky Training Mode: Even as hard-hitting a game as this one (get it?) is not without its occasional missteps and sloppy shots. And the slipshod training mode, which the game puts you through before each and every fight in career mode, is probably the most egregious of the small handful of blemishes on an otherwise great boxing game. Rather than on the console versions of Fight Night, where your performance in rhythm-based mini-games dictates the stat boosts which your boxer receives for training, the training in Fight Night Champion on iOS is entirely menu-based. Essentially, you choose whether to focus on increasing your fighter’s power, speed, or a balanced mixture of the two attributes. Then you select whether to train normally, confidently, or aggressively. Essentially, if you train normally you will have a 100% success rate, but you will only gain small stat boosts from each session.  Confident training gives greater bonuses, but with more risk of failure (which will lower your fighter’s stats in the areas you were trying to improve). Aggressive training brings the greatest risks as well as the highest rewards.

So, what’s the problem with all this? Well, essentially all you have to do in order to always gain the highest boost possible is reboot the Fight Night app, without advancing to the next screen after you fail a training. Just rinse and repeat until you succeed. This makes it so there is essentially no reason to use the confident or normal training modes, as long as you’re willing to waste some time fiddling around with rebooting the app and going through the menus to return to your training session. I don’t know if I just have an amoral streak, wherein I’m compelled to juke the stats of any game which presents me the opportunity to do so… But I found this aspect of the game really annoying (since it wasted time I could have spent playing), and simultaneously unavoidable (since I’d be damned if I was going to accept subpar performances from my boxers). It’s a relatively small nitpick, if you look at the larger picture and how enjoyable the game is despite this.  But it seems to me that the developers should have either eschewed the training sessions altogether, or found a way to provide them with greater depth and not make them so easy to cheat on.

Limited Compatibility for Older Devices: Here’s another bummer: The game will not run, period, on first-generation devices. And on second-generation devices, like my iPod Touch, the game runs smoothly… But does not support head-to-head multiplayer. Like, at all. Frankly, I can understand why this was possible, since I’m pretty sure the processors of the older devices in question simply aren’t up to these tasks. I’m a little amazed that the game runs beautifully on my iPod Touch 2G, but I still wish I could take on my friends for some Bluetooth or Wifi matches. This, to me, is a significant gripe, but all things considered the game is still worth the asking price if you are looking for a technical, in-depth fighting game on your iOS device.

All things considered, Fight Night Champion is well worth your time and money, provided that you’re willing to adjust to the learning curve and you’re looking for a fighting game that rewards persistence and technique over lightning-fast blitzkrieg victories and ridiculous special moves. Personally, between this title and “Street Fighter IV,” my iOS fighting game itch is good and scratched for the time being.


Electronic Arts’ ‘Fight Night’ Coming to App Store

This is a game that has been a fan favorite to be released on the App Store ever since Touch K.O. (yeah, remember that game?).

And it’s finally been announced that it will, in fact, make an appearance on the App Store.  EA released some screenshots today of the game, and while the details aren’t too many, the screenshots do look great.

We’ll post more details as they become available, but for now, check out the screenshots.  You can also see the screenshots on EA Mobile’s Facebook page.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 Review: Finish Him, Already!!!

Ah, Mortal Kombat…  What gamer of my generation doesn’t have some fond memories of this franchise?  I still recall the excitement and mystery it generated when a Mortal Kombat cabinet appeared one day next to Street Fighter II in the local arcade.  It quickly became the one game that always had a line in front of it, with scruffy older kids who probably smoked cigarettes ferociously gloating over their opponents and discussing how to perform Fatalities in conspiratorial whispers.  Mortal Kombat was a brand that embodied my nine-year-old’s version of “extreme,” and I was immediately hooked.  The year I got Mortal Kombat 1 for Game Gear, I faked being sick the next day so I could stay home and play it.  (And I took school pretty seriously.  This game was just that important.)  The franchise was a big part of my early adolescence.  So when Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iOS came out, imagine my delight!  However, now that I’ve played it, I can hardly begin to describe my disappointment.

I think I should be upfront:  Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (“UMK3” from hereon, for the sake of brevity), as it exists in its current form, is one of the most unsatisfying games I’ve played for iOS to date.  This is partly because it displays enough potential that one can see that it could have been a really good game with a little more work.  Although it displays some good potential, and with the right updates UMK3 could become a top-notch game on iOS, right now it plays like a beta version.  There are a few commendable areas: Overall, the gameplay looks fairly good, and the animations are smooth.  Each character feels relatively complete, since they each retain most of their special moves, fatalities, babalities, animalities, and all the usual repertoire of Mortal Kombat malarkey that you have come to expect.

And, literally, that’s where my flattery ends.  If I didn’t have a journalistic obligation to uphold, I hardly would have even played this title for thirty minutes before deleting it from my device.  I can’t help but speculate UMK3 was the product of a very rushed attempt to get something onto the App Store before Apple’s holiday-season game approval deadline.  They probably should have just gritted their teeth and finished debugging it.

Likes

Graphics: Groan-inducingly enough, one of the few things I can list as a positive aspect of this game has already been a point of contention in how people have received it.  Instead of using digitized sprites for the character models, the designers have opted to go for three-dimensional animated character models. Personally, they don’t really bother me and from what I understand this was a necessary concession to keep the game running at a good frame-per-second rate.  However, response has been mixed, and I think there are some Mortal Kombat purists out there who consider anything besides a strict two-dimensional layout and digitized-sprite character models to be an unforgivable deviation from the formula.

Ambitiousness: Although the actuality of UMK3 as it exists currently is rather disappointing, I admire the scope of what the developers were trying for.  The gameplay doesn’t really work 100%, but to the extent that it does, it’s pretty reminiscent of the original Mortal Kombat 3, which was a good iteration of the series.  The characters all have a wide variety of finishing moves, unique special moves, and the usual generic Mortal Kombat arsenal of punches and kicks.  There is a good variety of arenas, many of which have arena-specific fatalities, and the general presentation of the game is fairly well-done.  It just seems as if for whatever reason, the game was rushed into Apple’s approval process before it was really ready to be released.  Which is a shame, because it feels like it could have easily been a much better game than it is.

Dislikes

The Kontrols are Krap: Really, there is just no way to make a good 1-on-1 fighting game without making sure it has adequate controls.  And whatever there is good about UMK3, of which there is some, gets completely undermined by the fact that the controls don’t work well enough to actually let the user derive any enjoyment from playing the game.

I would have a lot more sympathy for UMK3 if games like Blades of Fury and Street Fighter IV hadn’t already been out for this platform for quite some time now, proving that fighting games are possible on iOS (and in the case of Street Fighter, very good.)  However, especially in comparison to its old rival, the Street Fighter franchise, this version of Mortal Kombat suffers miserably when it comes to the controls.  Street Fighter is able to survive the translation to iOS still feeling much like the same game, by limiting the punches and kicks to one button each, as opposed to three for each.  Whereas Street Fighter IV for iOS accommodates itself to the limitations of the iPhone’s touch screen by significantly paring down the basic attacks available to each character, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 includes its full repertoire of basic attacks.  While this would be a bonus if the controls were sensitive enough, in short, they’re not.  The virtual joystick is painfully small and unreceptive (even for someone like myself whose thumbs are definitely not oversized).

There are two configurations of settings for the virtual buttons.  The first is the classic six-button arcade configuration, with high kick, low kick, high punch, low punch, block, and run.  The other configuration is a five-button setup with one punch, one kick, block, run, and a button to assist the player to pull off special moves more quickly and easily.  While this sounds all well and good, each configuration presents unique problems.  With the classic six-button approach, some special moves and nearly each and every Fatality can be maddeningly difficult to pull off, thanks in part to the muddy responsiveness of the virtual joystick.  However, with the five-button approach, you limit your ability to perform each character’s “cheese combos,” which are already really difficult to pull off anyways but deal so much damage as to be implicitly enticing.

To make matters worse, of course, the AI opponents have no trouble inflicting these massive combos on you.  Times are tough in The Outworld, apparently.

Load Times: There’s just a little too much loading between matches for my tastes.  This gets to be especially frustrating when you’re playing against Shao Kahn, because it can feel like you spend about ten seconds waiting to select your character, then about ten seconds waiting to fight, and then you lose the match in about twenty-five seconds.  Rinse, repeat.  It’s not too terrible, and honestly the other problems this game has far overshadow the load times.  But it’s a little extra irksomeness on top of all the annoyance that’s already there to be experienced.

Character Selection: Hopefully we can look forward to more characters in future updates (although fix the controls first or don’t even bother.)  But for now, the roster feels a little anemic.  We’re missing such fan-favorites as Raiden, Johnny Cage, Baraka, Kabal, Kano, etc.  Not to mention that some of the characters they’ve chosen to include seem like odd choices which could have been someone cooler.  Sheeva and Nightwolf?  Really??

Buggier than an Alabama Screen Door in July: As I’ve already mentioned, this game pretty much feels like a beta version.  The AI is extremely imbalanced and easily exploited.  For example, I’ve found I can effectively spam a computer opponent by running up to them and throwing them ad nauseam for the entire match.  On the other hand, if you should try to fight fair, you’ll most likely get that ass whupped on all but the easiest difficulty setting.  Again, this is largely because the CPU can, for example, freeze you and then effortlessly perform that six-hit combo that it takes you ten attempts to pull off correctly.

Speaking of buggy AI, fighting the bosses in this game is an excruciating annoyance. Motaro incessantly teleports from one side of the screen to another, in a way that feels less like the AI’s strategy and much more like a programming glitch.  Also, he frequently performs his next hit on you when you’re in the middle of your standing-up animation from his last one.  Shao Kahn on the other hand, just won’t let you get a hit in edgewise.  The only real way I’ve found to beat him so far are really cheaty-faced techniques, like getting a little damage on him and then spamming him with Stryker’s ‘takedown slide’ move.  If you just keep performing the move over and over, the clock will run out without him being able to hit you…  And that’s not exactly what I call ‘fun.’  But hey, I felt I had an obligation to at least finish the game, mind-numbingly frustrating as the experience became.

In short, I couldn’t recommend this game to anyone right now in good conscience.  It really could be terrific if the developers take the time to go back and meticulously fix the controls, and offer us a solid update.  I would love to see UMK3 stand tall as a worthy contender among the scarce amount of arcade-style fighting games on the App Store.  If we get controls that work, the next thing I would like to see would be more characters added to the roster.  But right now, all that is a mighty big if. As it currently stands, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iOS gets low marks indeed, because it doesn’t feel quite ‘finished’ and the sheer frustration of trying to work with the controls precludes any real chance of having fun.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was developed by EA Mobile, and I played through version 1.0.4 on my iPod touch 2G.  The price is $6.99.


Beast Boxing 3D Review: Nothing We Haven’t Seen Before

Fighting and boxing games aren’t new in the App Store: we’ve seen the likes of Touch K.O. and Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior for starts, along with Capcom’s popular Street Fight IV.  Boxing games aren’t too sparse in the App Store either, as Glu’s Super K.O. Boxing is adequate enough for any average gamer (especially if you picked it up for free).

But Beast Boxing 3D vows to bring a new approach to the boxing ring, with swipe and touch controls similar to that of Touch K.O., and a camera angle and gameplay experience similar to that of Super K.O. Boxing.  Mixing those two fighting games together, Beast Boxing includes monsters and beasts of all shapes and sizes fighting against your character; all of this entertainment rendered in beautiful, cartoony graphics.

And while it does provide a somewhat different approach in terms of theme, everything else seems to be more or less the same.  With only a career mode to keep you going, content doesn’t seem to be on the extensive side.  The controls feel a bit sluggish, the UI needs some improvements, and the gameplay needs to add some more overall depth.

Side hooks and upper cuts aside, as a game, Beast Boxing leaves a lot to desire.

Likes

Graphics: The character rendering is absolutely amazing, and it literally makes my eyes burn from the amount of detail packed into one character.  While the backgrounds and environments could use a little bit of touch-up, the character models are quite impressive.

Character variety: You must be a strategist on every single character, as each character brings something new to the table.  Fighting the parrot-looking creature was quite a breeze once I figured out how to beat it (*SPOILER ALERT* dodging by tilting back and forth continuously, jabbing at the bird while moving past its body).  Other creatures such as the one-eyed monster are much more difficult to beat and require a lot more blocking and less dodging.  While many casual gamers may or may not enjoy the strategic nature of this fighting game, I for one am pleasantly surprised by the amount of variety packed into nine characters.

Dislikes

Musical score: The music does start to get annoying after a while, and although I usually never pay attention to background music and such, the repetitive nature of Beast Boxing’s beats were quite noticeable.

Control response time: The controls are in need of some improvement in terms of responsiveness, as it’s taking my device some time for it to register my swipes and jabs.  Swiping to execute a side hook doesn’t always work, and there are times in which my character gets beat up because the controls decided not to respond to my touches.  While it’s workable, there’s definitely a noticeable amount of hang time.

Content: With only one game mode, you’ll be hard-pressed to play this game again once you beat the career mode.  While the career mode will last you around three to four hours, it’s not enough in this day and age, an age in which quantity never reflects the price.

Depth: Swipe, jab, upper cut.  There’s nothing really else to the gameplay: no special combos, no heart-busting body jabs… a combo list similar to that of fighting games such as Street Fighter IV would be nice; a jab + side hook = something amazingly awesome.  Right now, I’m having trouble coming back to the shallow nature of Beast Boxing.

Nothing really new: Aside from the beastly—both literally and figuratively speaking—character models and variety, Beast Boxing brings absolutely nothing new to the table.  A lackluster and shallow career mode followed by a simple and uninspiring upgrade system really doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

Beast Boxing 3D is a game that looks the part but needs a little bit of help in acting it.  The graphics are great, the character variety is great, and for the first couple of hours, it’s a bunch of fun.  But once you start to get frustrated, thwarted, and far into the career mode, your appeal to the game just doesn’t last.  It’s a game with potential, but it needs some substantial updates to reach it.

Beast Boxing 3D was developed by Goodhustle Studios, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $2.99.