First Impressions: Kentōshi Furi Furi Boxing
Posted by Sean Aaron
No robots, but plenty of rock-em, sock-em action!
You might remember a plastic toy called "Rock'em Sock'em Robots" ("Raving Bonkers Fighting Robots" in the UK) in which two robots were fixed on either side of a platform and pressing buttons caused them to punch each other senseless until one of their heads popped up, only to be reset for another go. That's pretty much the same idea here, though this game appears to be based on a Tomy toy from the same era and sold as "K.O." by Parker Bros.; in which the plastic figures look like human boxers and get knocked backwards some pre-set number of times before a winner is declared.
When the title screen first comes up you'll be treated to an announcement: "Ken-tosh Furry Furry Boxing!" and you know you're in for something special. There's two game modes and a couple of mini-games which together add-up to a fun simulated plastic boxing match package.
The two game modes can be played as a single match, a 2-player game or a 1-4 player tournament. The first game mode is the most fleshed-out. Options include a choice of 3 camera angles, number of rounds (1, 3 or 5), the length of rounds (1-3 minutes) and whether or not to have the catchy rock guitar soundtrack playing during the match.
Gameplay consists of trying to knock out your opponent within a set number of rounds. You use the nunchuk and remote to punch with left and right fists via simple downward motions; holding or to perform uppercuts or to guard against blows from your opponent. Your boxer will automatically tilt from side-to-side when punching (especially after the lengthy uppercuts), but you can move the or left and right to manually bob-and-weave as well.
Normal blows can be rained down faster, but they're weaker and run down your stamina gauge rapidly, causing your boxer to droop over for several precious seconds should you run it down completely. Uppercuts do more damage, but they're slow to execute and therefore tougher to land on your opponent; they do have the benefit of using less stamina which will have recovered by the time you're ready to punch again. In the main game mode boxers have a health bar; when it runs down they get knocked down requiring players to press and rapidly to refill the stamina gauge (and some of the health bar) before the announcer counts to 10. Each time a boxer gets knocked down it requires more button taps to get back up again; after getting knocked down three times, that's pretty much all she wrote. In the other game mode there are no health or stamina bars and no uppercuts. Instead players simply try to land three blows on their opponent to knock them down which earns a star. First player to get three stars wins the match.
The two mini-games include one where you need to do left-right punches and uppercuts to hit objects that appear on targets in front of and above the player's boxer in an attempt to get the highest score (best result is displayed before the game starts; no leaderboards and no initials). More targets appear with greater frequency the faster you hit them during the timed session. The other mini-game is Speed Knockout, where you're trying to knock out 8 opponents in the shortest time possible (again, no leaderboards). As with the last mini-game the camera is fixed behind the player's boxer and the full regular game controls are available. The other boxers will move and guard, but don't fight back.
There's not too much to this game, but the presentation is great and the tournament modes and mini-games are pretty fun. The audio is a special treat with the boxers announcing "Good choice" when selected (you can either pick your boxer and any CPU opposition or click the random button for a surprise) and their names before the fight. The latter is quite amusing given the OTT nature of some of the pronouncement and the Japanese phrasing. You'll never get tired of hearing "I am bayah!" or "I am lizardo!" before a fight. After a fighter wins the camera angle changes to face the winner at an angle and they bob up and down in time to the music whilst saying "Yeeeaah!" At the end of a tournament the winner's face is shown as they announce "I am Champion!" That's worth the admission price right there (as is getting to hear "Kentosh Furry Furry Boxing!" in one of two or three voices every time you return to the main menu to switch game modes.
The fighters are of two different types with varying hair, skin and glove/trunk colours to set them apart -- just as if you were collecting real plastic toys! There are four fighters to choose from initially with a further four to unlock (you'll encounter them in the Speed Knockout game). The graphics are 3D and the fighters have a nice sheen which makes them look plasticky; reinforced by showing knocked-down fighters wriggling about as the player struggles to press buttons fast enough to bring them back. The final payoff to a knockdown recovery is the fighter smoothly rising in one motion as if pressing a lever on a plastic toy.
The motion controls work pretty well -- though it is important to note this isn't Sonic & Mario at the Olympics, so really rapid or forceful controller movement isn't required (saving wear-and-tear on your wrists). The default camera angle is a bit odd, being zoomed in from an elevated angle to the side. You can also view straight-on from the side, but both of these views make dodging or knowing when you're lined-up for a punch rather difficult. Thankfully you can also switch to a behind-the-boxer view, but these changes must be made in the options menu before play since the only thing you can do from the pause menu is turn off the music.
It's a decent little game which would be a good candidate for localisation like Tomy's other plastic toy adaptation, Pop-up Pirate!, though if the voices get redubbed it would be a difficult blow to recover from.