Most people who don’t have experience with boxing think of Mike Tyson, either with regard to the ear biting or his appearance in The Hangover. Others think of more classic examples like Rocky, and his eighteen movies (play theme song in head now). Touch KO offers a more modern and perhaps realistic take on the sport, with a few drawbacks.
Free facial rearrangement!
TKO starts out with a graffiti style layout, and you can choose between the two options of Career or Quick Play to get underway. The latter is just that (quick) and doesn’t affect any career status or progression. Career is the extensive part of the game, wherein you choose a character and begin boxing after selecting his ink and his outfit. Then you start out with the fight, which gives you a great tutorial disguised as training at the gym.
You usually choose from three opponents when you go to square up, each giving you a different bonus and difficulty level. The fights themselves are done well, with movement handled automatically, imitating the step and flow of the fight so you can focus on the punching. With three different types of hits along with blocking, you can develop strategies quickly. This is made easier with the addition of Training before each fight, where you can choose which stat–Strength, Stamina, or Agility–to improve. Not only that, but you can also augment your stats with new trunks, gloves, or shoes, which can be bought from the shop with your hard-earned winnings. The shop offers some variety, but it has widely spaced pricing for the higher quality goods, forcing you to wait some time to get the real gear.
Beef up your stats… or else.
There are a number of factors in play during the fights, most notably energy and knockouts. Energy goes down when hitting and being hit, and damage fills that same bar to prevent energy from fully replenishing. The graphics are great, but the physics can be a bit iffy on occasion. The most glaring instance of this is during a KO, when you knock your opponent to the ground. His limbs go helter-skelter, and occasionally his body folds up in very odd ways. Not only that, but there is a replay of your final hit that always plays whenever you knock out your opponent, but it is almost always the same thing: head to the left, fall down. Even if you hit so his head should snap the other way, it still goes to the left with white specks of spittle flying out regardless. Without any way to skip this (or the awkward victory dance), it gets old quickly.
The other big feature missing for us is multiplayer. All you can do is challenge friends via e-mail to get more KOs in Career Mode than you. The lack of more extensive community and multiplayer features is a bit disappointing, and we hope that some get plugged in via update.
All in all, though, Touch KO is a great boxing game. Any fans of the genre will get a kick (punch?) out of it, and it’s also a generally enjoyable game for anyone wanting some action. Fights can drag on a bit in the later levels though, and without multiplayer to enjoy with your friends, it’s simply not all it could have been. We consider it a solid TKO, not a 10-count knockout.