Developer: Chillingo
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Boxing is a sport that, for generations, has transcended all types of barriers. It’s a sport that is popular among those of differing genders, races, ages, and classes. It’s a sport that requires very little equipment besides gloves and a place to fight, but is quite possibly one of the most demanding sports in existence. Many of boxing’s greatest champions have been diminished to a shell of their former selves. Muhammad Ali is arguably the greatest fighter of all time but is now afflicted with Parkinsons as a result of taking so much punishment over the years. Mike Tyson was and still remains a victim of his past success. His fame and fortune made him a target for the media and spent time in prison for what many (including myself) claim was a crime he did not commit. The boxing community is a vicious one. It could take a boxer years to rise to the top, but only two minutes to fade into obscurity forever.

Thanks to Chillingo, we can now experience all of this high drama from the couch in our parents’ basement. Score.
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Touch KO is a really good game. I’m a little bit perplexed as to how to write this review. I’m a huge fan of EA’s Fight Night franchise, so I may be a little bit jaded when playing a boxing game on the iPhone. It would be impossible to recreate a boxing experience as fast and hard hitting as Fight Night on the iPhone. Having said this, Touch KO is a very good game. I didn’t come to this conclusion all at once, however. My first time through the game I wondered what all the buzz was about. I read raving reviews about the game and just didn’t understand it. I sat on this review for a bit I must admit, but then I came back to the game and I don’t know why but something was different. You may be asking yourself, “What is different Richie? TELL US NOW!” Well let me divulge friend… And stop yelling.

This game is another strong showing from Chillingo which puts apps out faster then Britney Spears puts $4.99 buffets out of business. (I love reviewing apps from Chillingo because I know a joke like this is always waiting for me.) Pretty much everything in the game is done pretty well. The control scheme, the graphics, and the promotion/upgrade system are all pluses for Touch KO.
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Why this game is a knockout
Chillingo took a pretty difficult task, in coming up with a fluid control scheme for a boxing game on a buttonless platform, and kicked that task in the balls and then uploaded it to youtube for the world to laugh at. You basically have two areas on each of side of your boxer that will control his left and right arms, respectively. A quick tap will result in a jab, with a bunch of quick taps unleashing fists of fury at your opponents soon-to-be hamburgery face. A quick swipe towards the center of the screen will launch a hook, and a swipe from the bottom of the screen will result in a punishing uppercut that will leave your opponent reeling. The defensive moves work just as well as their offensive counterparts. Holding down on one or both sides of the screen will allow your boxer to deflect incoming blows, and tilting the screen quickly to the left or right will make your boxer dodge. At first, these controls may feel a little bit unresponsive, but after training and improving your boxer everything will start to feel right.

The graphics are excellent for an iPhone game with SO much constant action taking place. Some of the reviews I read in the iTunes store were very critical of the game because during the knockdown replays, the face of the boxer being knocked down didn’t show a ripple effect, bruise accurately, and spray blood everywhere. These individuals obviously don’t understand the differences between their home console and a PHONE that can also play games. The knockdown replays are actually pretty cool, even if your boxer does collapse like Tony Romo in December. The animations are all pretty smooth. The overall feel of the game is very similar to that of Fight Night. You start out (of course…) in a crappy gym of course because like all boxing games it’s a rags to riches story. The environments and menus alike have a very grimy, straight out of Compton feel. That is, until you start playing in ballrooms and big arenas. Then it’s all so American Gangster.
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The promotion and upgrade systems are all pretty standard. You start out as an amateur boxer who sucks. Thank the lord all of his competition sucks just as much. Every fight you win, you gain popularity and another opportunity to train and improve your sweet skills. Chicks only dig guys with skills. Once you reach 100% popularity among the amateur ranks you progress to stiffer competition in the professional ranks. It’s all pretty standard. You can purchase new shoes, gloves, and trunks that will give your boosts in your ratings. Also, pretty standard, but it works. It’s a good story mode for this game and can take quite a while to finish it up all up.

Even though you will (technically) be evenly matched with your opponents, you will find out that the tale of the tape is a freaking lie. You’ll fly through the amateur mode. Chillingo must have based these amateur boxers off of Rainman, forgetting that he never actually boxed while he was in Las Vegas. They are Dumb. I capitalized Dumb on purpose. They just stand there, block sometimes, hit sometimes, and fall down. In later modes, you just have to block until your opponent opens up to get hit. This is really the only bad thing about Touch KO. But it’s a big thing. Regardless, the game is still pretty fun.

Here’s a video from the cool guys at Slide To Play

Judges decision?
Touch KO is pretty good. In the end you have to remember it’s a boxing game optimized for the iPhone, so it should be graded on a small curve. You just can’t compare games like this to their console counterpart. It’s like throwing Gary Coleman in the ring with Kimbo Slice. Touch KO is a great mobile boxing game, and absolutely worth your $2.99. It’s an overall good game, good graphics, decent soundtrack, good gameplay and while it may become a bit repetitive after a while, it still maintains decent replay value.

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