After a soft launch phase and a pre-registration campaign, FourthThirtyThree’s Boxing Star has arrived, letting Android gamers around the world step into the ring. With sharp visuals, a fun soundtrack and easy to learn controls, the game has a lot going for it. However some design decisions hold it back.
At its core, Boxing Star is a Punch-Out!!-esque game that is all about dodging your opponent’s attacks and waiting for an opening. Though it’s definitely less about pattern recognition than Nintendo’s classic. Players can dodge left or right to avoid their opponent’s punches, giving themselves an opportunity to counter-punch with their own jabs, straights, hooks, and uppercuts. Dodging and blocking are handled with virtual buttons while punches use touchscreen gestures. It generally feels like an evolution of the control scheme used in Real Boxing.
The controls work quite well. The touchscreen gestures are responsive enough that players shouldn’t get the impression that their character is doing something other than what they were tasked with. As players go up against stronger opponents they will likely find that dodging becomes increasingly difficult as opponents mix up their punches, and it makes for a nice difficulty curve for early on.
Boxing Star can be broken up into two components. A story mode that has players go from one location to the next beating up local boxers and rising up the ranks, and a league mode that pits players against AI controlled version of other players. The story mode doesn’t have much of a story but it does a good job of matching up the player with a wide range of fighters. League play will have players up against opponents with similar league rankings, but not necessarily similar ability or stats.
The problem is that as you progress you begin to encounter players and story mode fighters that may as well be unbeatable without significant gear, skill or level upgrades. Going up against an opponent with nearly twice as much health as you quickly begins to feel more unfair than challenging.
Players who want to dominate can easily pick up lots of gear using the game’s loot crate related in app purchases. While that’s fine by mobile gaming standards, the game takes things a step further by letting players buy boosts and unlock skill slots. Even worse, after being knocked down, players are given the option to stand back up instantly for a little bit of premium currency. That being said, in app purchases are not as big of an issue her as they are in Real Boxing.
The game’s aggressive monitization, Boxing Star’s lack of offline play, and the absence of true multiplayer can sometimes overshadow a lot of what the game does right. The game’s hip-hop soundtrack is a delight and complements the overall atmosphere as players acquire new clothes and swag that decorates game’s home screen. The fighting itself can be viscerally satisfying when punches land just right and you can see the fight take its toll on the faces of both you and your opponent.
Of note is the active development of the game. Since its soft launch there have been numerous tweeks, balance changes and even a few major additions. As part of the game’s global launch patch, the game added clans, a new equipment mechanic and added optional ads.
Overall Boxing Star is a lot of fun and overcoming a tough opponent in a close match can be extremely satisfying. The aggressive monetization and difficulty spikes give paying players an important edge in the game that is difficult to overcome with skill alone, and will prevent most free to play users from rising to the top of the game’s leagues. Of course that doesn’t prevent everyone from having some fun with a few bouts a day, but it will likely keep it from being a go-to game for gamers looking for a competitive gaming fix. Looking at the current landscape, it’s very likely that Boxing Star is the best mobile boxing game out there.
Boxing Star is free and contains in app purchases.
Interested? Check out the new boxing game on Google Play.