TOKYO--We got a chance to play the PlayStation Portable game Boxer's Road 2: The Real today on the floor of the Tokyo Game Show. The portable boxing game won't be confused for Fight Night, but the game has a few interesting control quirks that make for a fun game of boxing.
The demo we played featured two generic boxers. Because this is a Japan-deveoped game, the boxer models were somewhat smaller than the hulking brutes usually found in stateside boxing games. What they lacked in size, however, they made up for with speed, as both pugilists were able to throw flurries of jabs and hooks that were difficult to dodge.
The controls in Boxer's Road 2 weren't intuitive, but after a while we got the hang of them. You use the directional pad to move your boxer around the ring, but not necessarily in the manner you'd think. The up and down buttons are used to move your boxer closer to or farther away from your opponent, regardless of his position relative to yours. In other words, if our opponent was to our right, we didn't press right on the D pad, but rather up. The right and left buttons are used to sidestep your boxer left and right in relation to his opponent.
The four face buttons on the PSP controller are used to throw jabs and hooks, and each button is tied to your boxer's hands. Square and triangle buttons are used to throw left or right jabs, and the X and circle buttons were assigned to left and right hooks respectively. Holding down the right trigger lets you modify the punches into uppercuts, which are good "put away" punches. Similary, holding down the left trigger lets you bob and weave to get out of the way of your opponent's punches.
The sharp visuals of Boxer's Road 2 were a real treat on the PSP. The stadiums that housed the boxing events nicely conveyed the size of the buildings and gave a sense of excitement to the match, and for the most part, the action in the ring held up well. The boxer's themselves were well modeled and showed a definite anime influence to their design. Because the game moves fast, the match turned into a slugfest pretty quickly--the pace of the game seems to suggest this is intentional, as there doesn't seem to be much getting in the way of simply bashing your opponent's face in. When we landed a particularly crushing blow, we were treated to a nice slow-mo cut and watched with a smile on our face as our foe went crashing to the ground in a heap. We didn't even feel that bad about giving him a good whack to the grille a few times before he hit the canvas.
With its arcade pace and slightly skewed control scheme, Boxer's Road 2 might not appeal to boxing connoisseurs, but we had fun mixing it up during our time with the game.