Iron Fist Boxing is a 3D fighting game that seems to have had a few teeth knocked out. Though the graphics are great, and I am actually pretty impressed with the look and presentation of the game, there’s a couple key things missing. Fighting games in particular live and die by their control scheme, and what we have here is a missed opportunity. Players control one of 16 fighters and basically engage in a button-mashing beat-em up with little to no context. If they took this graphics engine and combined it with some real gameplay, they’d have a winner here, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
- Have I Mentioned The Graphics Are Great?
No, seriously. This is the best looking 3D game I’ve reviewed on the iPhone to date. The shading, smoothness of texture and the solid framerate all make this game’s visuals a KO.
- Soundtrack Designed To Pump… You… UP!
The music here was specially written for the game, and worked very well at conjuring images of an arena and some epic sporting event. At least they didn’t go with a lame, paper-thin hair metal soundtrack.
- In The Blue Corner … Multi Touch Controls!
Well, they’re in the game, but I didn’t say they were any good. The lackluster controls here are perhaps the biggest deficiency in this game. Responsiveness isn’t even in Iron Fist’s vocabulary.
I can’t say it enough – visually and aurally, this game was a treat. The sound effects were nice and didn’t get stale. The shading on the skin of the boxers was believable. Giving us 3 viewpoints from which to view the boxing was a nice touch. First person is particularly visceral – your camera reels with every hit you take. The menus and overall presentation really are top-notch, and that’s what makes it such a shame that the rest of the game is decidedly not.
Where to begin? The controls are a mess. Fighting games are all about precision controls so that it’s actually about skill. The controls here reduce the gameplay to mashing four corners of the screen and hoping you throw more punches than the other guy. Blocking is a joke, as the indicators warning you where to block seemingly come the instant the enemy punch is thrown. Even if you were given a good second to react, the lag between multi-touching to block and your character throwing up his gloves makes it all about luck, and that’s a bad thing.
There is not a shred of instruction in the game. The text that is there is prone to simple mistakes (carrer rather than career). It was very unclear at first how to operate the controls, and I sought some kind of reassurance that I was just doing it wrong. Unfortunately, the developers seemed to see fit to just let the player fend for themselves, such that App Store reviewers have taken to posting mini instructions for the controls.
The “Story” mode has no story. Sparring mode is the exact same as story mode, except you can’t choose your boxer. The boxer’s “fighting styles” don’t change anything about the way you play the game, just that some characters strikes are kicks rather than punches. The developer states that they’ll be adding 8 more characters and 3 fighting styles in a future update. I do not look forward at all to their interpretation of Capoeira, (horribly misspelt “kapuera” on their App Store page … I’m vaguely aware that “kapuera” may be a Danish or some other Nordic language’s spelling of Capoeira, but if you’re writing in English, write in English. I digress…)
Skip it. The visuals are nice, but there’s no substance to fill them out. Iron Fist falls way too far short to be worth your time – it’s like they took a look at the graphics, said “Oh man, we DID it” and then cobbled together the rest of the game. There are other games that will entertain you more and are cheaper. If you know of a fighting game with good gameplay, feel free to let me know in the comments, I’d love to see it.