Real Boxing 2 doesn’t belong on the Nintendo Switch… or any other console. It’s not completely unplayable, but it offers nothing more than the worst edges of the mobile game grind, with absolutely no depth nor reason to worth through the feels like the kind of endless content that you just wish would stop.
All you do in Real Boxing 2 is play match after match after match. “Career mode” is a farce, where you simply choose a menu item, complete a number of boxing matches within it (scoring up to three stars based on your performance) befor eventually unlocking the next menu option after earning enough of those aforementioned stars. There’s no narrative in this, just an endless progression of opponents, along with the very occasional upgrade in venue backdrop. None of the characters – your own, or your opponents – have any kind of personality, story, or role in the game beyond either being the blank avatar that you’re in control of, or an endless series of stepping stones on the road to nothing interesting.
It’s also a complete grind, because the rate at which your character levels up is pitiful compared to the rate in which opponents improve. The developers have done this because you’ve got the ability to play one of three training minigames to improve various statistics, but those are limited-use training sessions and – you guessed it – you can spend cash to refresh the number of plays. It’s not real cash – the developers have stripped the microtransactions out of the Switch release – but earning the virtual cash can be a grind nonetheless, and the big problem is that none of those three training games are enjoyable to play more than once, so the idea that you’d spend money on the ability to keep doing them is laughable design.
There are also virtual card packs, and the ability to upgrade your character directly using experience points earned by levelling up. These, too, are funded through exploitative microtransactions on mobile, but earned through normal play in the Switch version of the game. The problem is that because these systems are designed to keep you playing and spending more and more in the games, the drip-feed of rewards is painfully slow.
All of this would almost be forgivable if Real Boxing 2 plays well, but it just doesn’t. The basics of boxing are there – you’ve got right and left hooks, jabs, upper cuts and body blows. There’s also the ability to block, and a dodge mechanic that is too clunky to bother with. And there’s a few super moves, which play out as non-interactive combos that your opponent can’t block. When a boxer hits the ground, they have ten seconds to get up, and if neither boxer is declared KOed by the end of the third round bell, the winner is determined by points. Unfortunately, statistics count for everything when it comes to success in Real Boxing 2, and if you’re not levelled up enough then it doesn’t really matter how well you’ll play, you’ll be flattened. On the other hand, if you’re significantly more powerful than your opponent, then it’s going to be a cakewalk, even if you’re not watching the screen.
This is, without exaggeration, one of the least engaging sports games that I’ve ever played. You can all-but see the microtransaction-fuelled, made-for-mobile loops crunching the numbers to determine who is going to win before a bout is even due to start. Even more egrigiously, the game fleeces you for cash (virutal in this case) by selling you power-ups before the start of each bout, making sure that even if you win, the rewards aren’t going to be so great that you don’t need to grind just that little be more to be ready for the next match.
There presentation of the game is also incredibly amateur. At the start of each training mini-game, rather than see some kind of introductary text or instruction, the game (on its current build) instead displays the words “Text Block” – placeholder text no one bothered to replace. In matches, there are all kinds of weird graphical quirks that randomly spit out from the boxing gloves, with torn and twisted textures and polygons quite the common occurance. Worst of all, however, is that there’s no online play. There’s multiplayer, if you can sucker someone else in to play locally, but the developers didn’t even bother making up for the complete lack of single player gameplay with even a rudimentary online play experience.
Real Boxing 2 is everything wrong with mobile gaming, and while it’s free of the microtransactions on Nintendo Switch, all that it has to offer is an endless parade of matches that display no personality. I’m no expert on boxing, but I know enough about the sport to know that boxing fans aren’t going to find this satisfying on any level.