For those who don't know, Animal Boxing was originally released as a DS retail title two years ago to little fanfare. In fact, even though the game has just been recently released on DSiWare, most people don't even know it was originally a retail release. Perhaps this might explain the reason the game's publisher has decided to give the game new life on the download service in an effort to give players another chance to experience the rather bizarre sports title. But even at 800 Nintendo Points, is the game really worth your time and money?
The first thing you'll have to do when you begin playing the game is flip your DSi system upside down. In this game you'll be using the touchscreen in order to execute your fighter's various punches, something that would be all-but impossible playing the game in the traditional manner. You'll use the stylus to throw various punches ranging from a simple touch of the screen to toss a jab, to sliding the stylus horizontally and vertically in order to perform punches and uppercuts. You'll then use the action buttons to duck in both directions, as well as hold your gloves in front of you in order to avoid your opponents barrage of punches.
As you land punches, your Anger Gauge will begin to fill up. You can even grab hot peppers that pop up on the touchscreen from time to time in order to fill your gauge up much faster. Once your gauge is completely filled, your fighter will go into Fury Mode where his/her punches will do far greater damage for a short period of time. If you play your punches right, you'll be able to knock your opponent down, even finally winning the match if you can take them down three times for a TKO.
There are three modes of play to choose from. Championship Mode allows you to take on the game's entire lineup of animal fighters in a bid to ultimately win the championship belt. The fighters will become increasingly more aggressive as you progress through the lineup, so you'll have to be on your toes if you're going to make it through the later stages of the game. If you're feeling like a quick match, you can also choose the Vs. Animals Mode where you'll be able to instantly tackle any animal opponent you've beaten in Championship Mode. Of course if you've got another player around that owns the game, you can head into Vs. Human Mode and enjoy a little two player action via the DSi Wireless function.
The simple and intuitive play controls give the game a fairly playable feel, but the severe lack of variety between the various animal boxers makes the game feel extremely repetitive and doesn't allow for much strategy. Since the fighters basically just become a bit more aggressive, you'll soon find yourself swiping away at the touchscreen in a futile effort to knock your opponent down. At least squaring off with another human opponent injects the game with a bit more strategy and variety, although don't expect it to work a miracle. It would have been much more enjoyable if the individual fighters features their own unique fighting styles and patterns to focus on.
From a visual standpoint, it's hard not to be impressed with Animal Boxing's unique cel-shaded design and smooth animations. All of the fighters show a great deal of detail and the wealth of character customizations only adds to the visual flash. It's just a pity that the same attention to detail wasn't paid to the audio package, as having the same animal noises basically repeated for every animal does tend to get old after awhile. At least the one musical track you'll be hearing for the majority of the game is solid and actually one of the better hard rock tracks you'll hear on the service, one bright spot in an otherwise sloppy audio presentation.
Animal Boxing manages to offer up a rather impressive visual presentation, but unfortunately, it's heavily overshadowed by its serious lack of gameplay variety. The two-player mode does alleviate some of this problem, but not enough to lift the game above its inherently mediocre gaming experience. There are far too many other amazing titles that can be had on DSiWare for the 800 Nintendo Points this somewhat repetitive release will set you back.