Boxing video game fans might remember the original Victorious Boxers, which was released on the PlayStation 2 here in the States in 2001. Back then, EA Sports' Knockout Kings was the mainstream boxing series and, while serviceable, it was sort of stuck in a rut. Enter Victorious Boxers, a game that was more exciting for its new take on boxing controls than its anime-inspired character design. Now the series is set to return on the Nintendo Wii with Victorious Boxers: Revolution, and both the anime style and the unique control scheme are back.
Based on the popular anime and manga series Fighting Spirit (Hajime no Ippo in Japan), Victorious Boxers stars up-and-coming boxer Ippo Makunouchi. Ippo is a shy high school student who, after being bullied by classmates, begins training in the pugilistic arts at the nearby Kamogawa Gym. Revolutions' story mode will follow Ippo from the beginning of his career as he progresses through a multitude of fights against up to 25 unlockable characters, many of whom have a special ability (some have more than one). In the cutscenes that play between fights, you'll learn not only about Ippo, his allies, and enemies, but also crucial information about Ippo's upcoming opponents.
While the story should please fans of the series on which the game is based, it's the controls that are the real hook in the game. Revolution features multiple control schemes for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Wii's classic controller, or even a GameCube controller. We'll focus on the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, which are the most relevant here. There are two variations using this control setup: swing mode and pointer mode. Swing mode uses both the Remote and the Nunchuk to move your boxer's upper body, as well as control his footwork, and throw punches. Here's how it works: to duck forward, sway backward, or move side to side, you hold the B or Z button and tilt both the remote and Nunchuk slightly in any direction; your boxer will move his body to match your movements. To move your boxer around the ring, you can tilt the controllers at a more exaggerated angle in the direction you wish to go.
In swing mode, throwing punches is as easy as making a punching motion with your Wii Remote or Nunchuk. A straight jab is simple: you just punch forward with either controller. Hooks and uppercuts are a bit more complex. For a hook, you hold the Wii Remote or Nunchuk upright and move it left to right (the easiest way to consistently pull it off is to hook your arm at the elbow and swing). For an uppercut, you hold either controller down and move it up quickly. To guard, you hold the B and Z buttons down simultaneously. In addition to the standard swing mode, there's a variation that ties your boxer's movement to the analog stick on the Nunchuk. Because the movement of the Wii Remote can be so haphazard, especially when duking it out in a boxing match, we preferred the added control of the analog stick when it came to moving our boxer around the ring.
The other control scheme is known as pointer mode. Here, you move your boxer around the ring, as well as ducking and juking punches, by tilting the Wii Remote in different directions, just as before. However, to throw punches, you hold down the A button and then draw different patterns (indicated in the game's tutorial mode by angled streaks across the screen) with the Wii Remote. For example, to throw an uppercut with your right hand, you hold the A button and trace a diagonal line from right to left with the Wii Remote. A variation on pointer mode lets you throw punches by tracing patterns, while movement is controlled with the Nunchuk's analog stick. You can guard in pointer mode by holding down the C button.
Game modes in Revolution include story mode, sparring, and tutorial. By progressing through the game's story mode, you can unlock new boxers that you can take on in sparring mode, which can be played either solo or against a friend. After you choose the boxer you wish to use, as well as the rule settings (number of rounds, knockdowns, and so on), you can set the abilities of each fighter along three different attributes: power, speed, and stamina. Increasing one attribute will drain from the other two attributes. Consequently, if you create a one-punch knockout machine by maximizing a boxer's strength, his speed and stamina will be greatly reduced. You can also set the "strength" of each boxer (weak, average, and strong), though this setting refers to a boxer's technique, not his muscle in the ring.
With three different difficulty levels, Victorious Boxers: Revolution has enough challenge in store both for those who want to pick apart an opponent scientifically, as well as those who just want to get in the ring and go buck wild on a fool's head (and enjoy the bloody mess you can turn someone's face into). Boxing fans looking to take part in the fun should start doing their one-handed push-ups now; Victorious Boxers: Revolution is due for release in late September.