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Styles Should Make Fights in Boxing Video Games

Sugar Ray Robinson was one of the greatest fighters that ever lived.

Sugar Ray Robinson had impeccable foot mobility

Although it makes sense in retrospect, Fight Night Round 4 was famously released with control stick only punching originally in 2009.

Control schemes play a huge role in dictating possibilities and tendencies

Whether you pick a licensed boxer to fight with, or you create a fighter yourself, you’ll need to learn how that particular fighter moves, attacks and defends in the ring. Aside from those combinations of variables, you’ve also got to consider your opponent, of course.

There are no right or wrong answers when creating a fighter; while it’s usually safe to create a fighter with moderately long limbs, often it’s absolutely possible to create a fighter that cannot possibly win against normal competition without some serious handicap. Such a strange fighter might fail against just about everyone, but they also might be the perfect nightmare for anyone who is specialized to deal with typical fighters.

You have the freedom to experiement with aspects of a boxer’s repertoire. Not to mention stances and dominant hands; there are orthodox and southpaw stances to decrypt, each with their specified blocking style and punch proficiency, arm length, favorite punch, offensive and defensive styles.

Customization Options In Boxing Video Games

There are dozens of customizations for the style of each fighter, and each offers a slightly different library of punches. In many currently available boxing games, variation among opponents can offer high replay value. Depending on how well the AI functions, offline legacy fights are often more challenging than online play.

All of these variables result in differences of the ability of each opponent you’ll face in Fight Night Round 4. Taking into account the second fighter in the ring, the number of possibilities of interactions between each movement and the reactions evoked by the opponent is staggering.

Fighters with longer arms tend to throw more effective straight punches. But while they may have fearsome jabs and crosses, hooks and uppercuts from the same fighters might take them a crucial extra step. 

Conversely, boxers with shorter arms tend to have an advantage fighting in close, within limits. Shorter fighters tend to have better head movement, but taller guys have longer reach.

What Happened To Fight Night

EA is still the industry standard in boxing video games.

In Fight Night Round 4, you get to pick from all of these customization options, and a bunch more. Your selection of attributes and how you train will have heavy consequences on the style of fight you’ll need to learn in order to be successful.

Besides the concrete strategy considerations that should take place when designing your fighter in legacy mode, there are quite a few aesthetic customization options. The game development for Fight Night Round 4 was clearly geared toward more technique-centric gameplay than the storyline driven, aesthetic heavy, button-mashing cousin, Fight Night Champion. With that focus on technique and precision came complicated controls and subtleties to the gameplay that go overlooked by the easily frustrated.

Aside from learning the physical input combinations for each punch, players must also work within the skill limitations of their fighter. Once your controller registers the command for a punch, the fighter begins throwing that punch. Animation at 60 fps is smooth and completely lacking in motion blur. If you’re used to blurs and flashes in boxing games, at times this sim-like presentation can seem a little slow at first. If that’s the case, you’re going to need to adjust to the timing of movements and attacks to have success in the ring.

Why Did EA Never Make Fight Night Round 5?

It takes dozens of fights worth of specialized training camps to harness the hand speed and coordination required to throw flashy combinations. This isn’t something you get immediately. Your fighter has to train them; most overlooked is the fact that you have to actually learn them.

Public beef with the innovative control scheme was rooted in the initial lack of buttons to punch. Instead, New Total Punch Control required that you’d have to learn to punch using the stick only, encouraging more natural patterns and combinations of control inputs. EA literally made button-mashing impossible in Fight Night Round 4, but people wouldn’t stand for it. They demanded something simple.

The default controls are a little challenging to learn, but they’re by no means impossible. They’re not really even that difficult; once you start learning it you start to find real, competitive advantages over button punching. And aside from the tactical advantage, well implemented control stick punching schemes naturally highlight realistic punch and movement combinations inputs.

But it does take learning, though. And while you’re learning in boxing video games, you get beat up – a lot. It gets demoralizing until you figure out what you’re doing wrong. Most people can’t take that; losing due to your own limitations in a complicated set of controls is one of the more frustrating gaming experiences. With no one to blame except themselves and the game, there was such wailing and gnashing of teeth among video game journalists and fans that EA relented, providing an “updated” set of control scheme options post-release via DLC.

Although it makes sense in retrospect, Fight Night Round 4 was famously released with control stick only punching originally in 2009. This was a decision that emphasized intent to develop progressively simulation heavy experiences for the future of the Fight Night franchise.

New Total Punch Control vs. Button Punching in Boxing Video Games

Once you do learn those controls, realistic combinations flow intuitively and naturally. In stark contrast to other, more arcade style boxing games, it doesn’t occur to many players to spam in Fight Night Round 4 using the stick control for punching; robotic combinations are usually ineffective against a more natural looking defense due in no small part to New Total Punch Control and directional blocking.

Although many arcade style fighting games allow players to unlock the full potential of each character for the cost of admission, the Fight Night Round 4 Legacy career requires thoughtful planning and genuine effort to train a fighter with the abilities you’d hope to use in the ring against your toughest opponents. There’s a learning curve to training successful fighters, and the AI is surprisingly intuitive when appropriately matched.

Each fighter naturally has tendencies to throw certain punches more sharply and effectively than some of their other punches. Some fighters have quick, powerful straight punches; others might have devastating left hooks. Experiment with different fighters to learn the tendencies, strengths and weaknesses of each of them. A major skill in Fight Night Round 4 is the ability to recognize and work within the limitations of your fighter to win against any other fighter, under any circumstance.

Did you learn something from this boxing game guide? Should player skills play a bigger role for realistic boxing video games, or should boxing games be more geared toward a fun, inclusive, fighting game style experience? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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