Boxing Games and Fight Night Round 4

Boxing games are back. Fight Night Round 4 has been announced with a ship date – actually, a ship season – of “Summer 2009.”

It’s good to see this boxing franchise making another run. There’s also leaked video on Youtube of an EA representative comparing FN4 and FN3, which I also found encouraging. I loved FN3 but it still had plenty of room for improvement. I think we still haven’t seen a true next-gen arcade-simulation of boxing, just very tantalizing and visually appealing boxing imitations.

Part of the problem is that boxing really involves the whole human body, like dancing. (Seen any good dancing videogames? EA, want to use the FN4 engine to make one?) Obviously, it’s a different scale than controlling a running back in a football game. The biggest disappointment is that the game is destined for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Of all the next gen platforms, you’d think the most natural fit for a boxing game would be on the Wii. However, motion detection on the Wii isn’t as precise as Nintendo would like you to think.

I think what we’d all like to see is a boxing game that captures true body movement- a lean of the shoulders, a flick of the hips, a tilt of the head – rather than a string of rote offensive and defensive boxing moves. Whether it comes in a boxing game, a brawler like Tekken or Street Fighter, or in the aforementioned dancing game, we all want more control and simpler controls.

One analog stick for punching was a cool idea, and revolutionary in its way (kudos to you, Kudo), but ultimately untenable. After all, that little stick had to do all the work of two arms. Being lefthanded, I found it especially perverse, and eventually joined my human boxing compadre in using the face buttons, a la Punch Out and time immemorial.

Good to see Tyson in there, too. I definitely wished for his presence in FN3.


A Game Industry Funny

This game industry cartoon is written for the UK, but I think it translates pretty well. Sadly, it’s also pretty true. Acclaim had a studio in Austin that imploded. I almost took a job there.

The cartoon is “Crashlander,” and it’s worth a look. Click on the teaser below to visit the site and see the full cartoon.



Videogame Writing Influences TV?

EDGE Thinks Videogame Writing Is Affecting Television Plots

Rely on EDGE Magazine to throw out some interesting memes. Today I stumbled upon this thought – that some of the hot new television writing is actually becoming more like videogame writing. And not in a good way:

TV is yet another medium struggling to compete against interactive entertainment…. Even TV shows are becoming more like videogames, with a flat palette of two-dimensional characters moving progressively through random objectives, the odd big boss and perplexing, pointless plot twists. Heroes, Lost, Family Guy. Shit, shit, shit.

Family Guy Has Videogame Plots?

So those cocky Brits just compared your favorite TV show with human offal. But you have to admit that some of these modern ensemble television dramas aren’t TV shows in the classic mode.

Instead, they’re giant productions that will continue to throw out new characters, obstacles, and plot threads in a desperate and calculated effort to survive. It’s fully possible that, like the great red herring generator, Twin Peaks, there’s no overarching meta-narrative. I fear that they exist only to exist. When the concept wears thin and viewers turn elsewhere, these shows might just crumble and crash into the rocks without ever attempting to answer the questions that they raised in the first place.

Still, An Interesting Reversal

Sure, the videogame movie is a Hollywood staple as movie studios reveal again and again their timid business strategies. But it’s not every day that you see someone postulate that game writing is bleeding stylistically into other media, instead of vice versa. Some food for thought the next time you’re zoning out in front of the idiot box.