Developer: Stephane Denis
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
Iron Fist Boxing - The rise in popularity for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has been long overdue. MMA is a sport that throws out rules pertaining to fighting styles and gives fans the cross discipline match-ups they want to see. For a while, MMA has been the ignored and vilified proverbial stepbrother of boxing, due to the brutality of the combat. Though that critique may have been relevant in the past, modern organizations have put in a variety of safeguards and rules to help clean up the image of the sport. When you combine skilled, athletic and charismatic fighters with top notch marketing and promotion; a phenomenon is born.
Realtech VR has recognized this phenomenon, and has stepped with the iPhone’s first serious effort at an MMA fighting game. To say this was an ambitious goal is an understatement as there has yet to be a console game that gets it completely right. Iron Fist Boxing is setting out to show everyone how it’s done.
From the get-go, you are introduced to a polished (and fiery) menu that offers up three gameplay modes —Story Mode, Sparring Mode, Training — to dive into. While you’ll spend the majority of your time in Story Mode, the other two modes of Iron Fist Boxing allow quick one-off matches and tutorials for learning the gameplay mechanics.
Speaking of mechanics, they are relatively simple in Iron Fist Boxing. Fans of Nintendo’s classic Punch Out series will be right at home with the close third person view of the action. Throwing punches and kicks are done by tapping to the left or right of your opponent’s head or body region. Super attacks can be unleashed through a combination of tilting and tapping, but it’s a bit clunky and hit or miss. Watching the stamina at the bottom of the screen is crucial as you can’t throw any attacks with a depleted stamina meter. Lastly, blocking is done by holding highlighted areas that correspond to your head and body.
While this scheme should work in theory, lack of responsiveness and instantaneous feedback from the controls are disappointing. This is especially evident with blocking as your opponent will typically be teeing off you while you’re waiting for your character to block. Sigh...
Graphically, Iron Fist Boxing will likely impress you. The polygonal 3D fighters have different looks and styles that separate them fairly well. Touches like flying sweat and blood splatters add to the package and are convincing too. Only blemishes you’ll notice are some blockiness on the fighters and some clipping. Realtech VR has provided an energetic soundtrack to keep you hyped during your fights, and you have the option of listening to your own music from your library too.
Regarding the question whether Iron Fist Boxing is a true MMA game, I’d say not really. Sure Iron Fist Boxing supports three fighting styles — Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kick Boxing — but there’s no real strategic advantages for picking one fighter over another. For example, in Muay Thai, the clinch is considered one of the most popular and effective moves from this style. It’s nowhere to be found here though. So all the usual tactics like grappling, throws, submissions and other standard techniques in MMA are not in Iron Fist Boxing. This is essentially a boxing game (complete with a 10 count for knockdowns) at it’s core with some leg kicks thrown in to justify the claim that this is an MMA game. Whatever sells though...
Iron Fist Boxing has all the pieces in place to be an excellent fighting game. Good presentation, solid graphics, extras, and achievements all come at a fair price. The only thing that prevents me from giving Iron Fist Boxing a completely positive recommendation are the unreliable controls. All the extras in the world don’t matter when you’re consistently frustrated by the lack of response during gameplay. With more time in the gym, Realtech VR’s Iron Fist Boxing can become a champion.