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.

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