Steel Champions

How hard can it be to make a semi-decent Punch-Out!! knockoff?  You create an over-sized monstrosity, slap some boxing gloves on it, have it telegraph its moves at you, give your avatar accurate dodging controls, and tada, you have a Punch-Out! knockoff.  There should be dozens of these scattered throughout the gaming spectrum.  For all I know, there might be.  Steel Champions is only the second one I’ve encountered on XBLIG.  The first, Honey Badger: Slayer of Memes was a total piece of shit.  The gimmick being Punch Out!! if you beat up long-since unfunny internet running gags.  Well, now we have Steel Champions.  Its gimmick is Punch-Out!!, only with robots and anime boobies.  It also is a total piece of shit, but boobies will always trump the Star Wars Lightsaber dude.  Who, ironically, also has boobies.

Honestly, it doesn't look bad. And it's not.  It's terrible.

Honestly, it doesn’t look bad. And it’s not. It’s terrible.

Let me be clear: I fucking love Punch-Out!!  And this love isn’t based on nostalgia.  I played them in reverse-order.  The Wii version first, Super Punch-Out!! second, and NES Punch-Out sans pre-crazy Mike Tyson last.  Enjoyed each and every one of them.  And they’re all so simple when you get down to it.  This should be one of the easiest games to clone out there, but nobody can seem to get it right.  Steel Champions is no different.  Oh, it looks like Punch-Out!!  High and low punches, dodging, and ginormous opponents that telegraph their moves.  But it just doesn’t work.  The dodging feels imprecise and floaty, and the telegraphing becomes so fast that it’s damn near impossible to dodge.  Plus, I couldn’t find any noticeable pattern that allowed me to consistently dodge-and-stunlock opponents.  That’s the most rewarding, satisfying aspect of Punch-Out!!  Here’s a game that has all the ingredients that makes that game work, except the most important one.  It’s like making a cake without sugar.

I only made it to the third fight, which I had trouble finishing because the game kept randomly dumping me back to the Xbox Dashboard.  No Code 4.  No crash screen.  Just “back you go to, to your game library.”  This happened twice, and it won’t be happening a third time.  By the way, this happened to other people too.  Not that it matters much.  Even if it didn’t crash too often (some would argue that once is too many), what we have here is a pitiful button-masher that’s only selling point is there are anime boobies on the box art.  A selling point so utterly transparent that it’s practically a poltergeist.  Actually though, I think we’re getting past that point.  Interest in your Don’t Die Dateless Dummies and Team Shuriken crapola and assorted other titty games are circling down the drain.  My site is getting far more searches for “Best Xbox Live Indie Games” instead.  Sorry, smut developers.  You’ve got to step up your game now.  Consumers are more interested in GOOD games now, so step up and give them what they’re looking for.  Sweaty palms, not blistered ones.

xboxboxartSteel Champions was developed by Neuralnet

80 Microsoft Points got their ear bitten off by Mr. Dream in the making of this review. 

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

7 Responses to Steel Champions

  1. “The dodging feels imprecise and floaty, and the telegraphing becomes so fast that it’s damn near impossible to dodge. Plus, I couldn’t find any noticeable pattern that allowed me to consistently dodge-and-stunlock opponents.” — Oddly enough, very similar to my feelings about Bleed. :p

    It’s odd that this Punch Out cloning business is proving so troublesome. The key bit is dodging. Not having a wacky theme, hilarious gags or eye candy, but actually making it play well. In a Punch Out-esque game, dodging that is responsive and accurate is a deal breaker.

  2. Game kicked me back to the dashboard after hitting “rematch” against the third opponent as well. The “Max vs Generic Robot I Couldn’t Care Less About” screen popped up, then magically the game decided I should play something else.

    I happily obliged.

  3. Jason says:

    Review is outdated, or I got a new version of the game, but the article doesn’t match with the game I have.

    • Luis says:

      That’s because that review was made on the first release, the update changes the gameplay added some features and get rid of the crashes.

    • Apart from the crashing issue, which I haven’t experienced, this matches the game I have very well.

      • I should add that I played it about three days ago.

      • Luis says:

        I can’t talk about others, but I guess he is talking about the gameplay which is different from what the review says, thanks we got Microsoft and Nokia promoting this game, and people is start to looking at it, (ironically in a good way), just because it was featured, also I know is giving you some hits to independent reviewers sites as well, sadly that’s more business for you and those sites are less business for us.

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