They’re coming 4 our brains! First came the zombie apocalypse game Left 4 Dead on the consoles and PC. Then came the zombie apocalypse shooter Alive 4-Ever. Now there’s Down 4 the Count, which brings the undead into the boxing ring. Okay, so only one of the ten opponents in the game is a zombie, but at least there’s a running theme in all the games that pointlessly use the number 4 in their titles.
Down 4 the Count is a Punch-Out clone with phenomenal graphics. In fact, the visuals are so eye-grabbing that it might be worth the asking price of the game just to look at them. It’s like an interactive cartoon.
This is a first-person boxing game in which you’ll fight a series of off-the-wall opponents. One wears a blindfold, one a monocle, and one is a short alien standing on the shoulders of another short alien. The variety is welcome and often quite amusing. Each one also has his own special move; for instance, the zombie spits green slime in your face, and the aliens summon space rocks.
It’s impolite to hit the blind.
The controls, explained in a brief tutorial, are mapped to various taps and swipes. Tapping high, low, left, or right throws punches accordingly. Holding two fingers on the screen blocks. Swipe your finger toward the center to throw a hook, or away from the center to dodge. The controls are very intuitive and easy to learn, but there’s a slight delay between input and onscreen action that gives the game something of a clunky feel.
In contrast to Punch-Out, which is all about studying your opponents’ rigid patterns and attacking during the brief openings, Down 4 the Count feels much looser. Because of wind-up animations, you’ll still know when punches are coming, but you’ll be able to score hits much more freely during the match. On all but the final opponents, you can usually improvise and beat them on the first try. However, the last opponent, a Terminator, is nearly as difficult as ol’ Mike Tyson on the NES.
Another issue is that scoring hits feels sort of random in this game. Many times you’ll miss your opponent because he’s winding up for a punch, but sometimes those same punches land. Sometimes when you and your opponent throw punches simultaneously, neither of you causes damage, but other times your opponent’s punch will land and yours won’t. We never quite got a feel for how to land a blow every time.
Flaming fist of fury.
Between rounds you can train on a speed bag to increase your stamina, but we didn’t notice the increase having much of an effect at all. Another missed opportunity is the super punch. You power up your super punch by landing hits while avoiding being hit yourself. When you unleash your super punch (by swiping upward on the screen), there’s a nice animation of a flaming fist uppercutting your opponent, but it barely causes more damage than a regular punch.
Despite some slight control delay, Down 4 the Count is an enjoyable boxing game, and an admirable attempt to replicate the cartoony fun of Punch-Out on the iDevice. We loved the zany cast of characters and the incredible visuals. Despite the shortcomings mentioned above, we recommend this game to anyone who loved Punch-Out.