Viveport Review: Knockout League
Grab Games’ Punch-Out!! style boxing game makes fitness fun, but watch out for the pirate’s mean left hook!
By Renee Ruiz, Greenlit Content
Get ready to rumble with Knockout League, an arcade boxing game from Grab Games that will have you squaring off against a variety of colorful and difficult opponents… even an octopus! It’s the sort of game that’s easy to play - just throw punches with your motion controllers - but the challenge does pick up and you’ll need to develop some expert skills to avoid eating canvas.
You start as a real underdog, beginning your training in the virtual gym. With coach Doug Johnson by your side, you'll be guided through the basics of dodging, punching and other tips that will help you achieve victory once you step through the ropes.
One thing that bugged me early on was that you don't get to customize your boxer in Knockout League. This is VR, so you could argue that the boxer is you; but when you start each bout, I felt a little cheated that your opponents receive these slick-looking entrances, with flashbulbs popping and their names announced over the speakers... but there's nothing for you. Not a big deal, but it's something that stood out to me as an omission after years of watching over the top boxing and pro wrestling matches.
That small nitpick aside, you might jump out of your virtual laces when the first punch is thrown and a huge glove whizzes past your peripheral vision. Trust us when we say even with your cartoon-like opponents, boxing in VR is way more intense than any arcade or console game!
Speaking of those opponents, we said that they were cartoon like... well if you've seen Knockout League in action you'll know that these are not your run-of-the-mill fighters. Well, your opening opponent, Tri-Tip is pretty normal... but it just gets weirder after that.
From the armored Iron Maiden to the eight-armed onslaught of Sir Octopunch, every opponent requires you to think on your feet and learn new tactics as you progress. Expecting a punch? Well, how about an axe kick to the top of the cranium? Yup, you will need to prepare for everything. Don’t swing wildly in the air, either. Only precision moves will cause openings in the challenger’s onslaught, similar to Nintendo’s iconic PunchOut!! series. Each fighter is a puzzle of sorts that forces you to figure out their different weaknesses. Once revealed, you’re welcome to bombard the opponent with an assortment of gut punches and uppercuts.
The good news, in addition to Knockout League being a fun game, is the fact that you’ll achieve quite the workout while playing it. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a part of your regular workout routine. This game will make you sweat, with a built-in calorie counter keeping track of every movement you perform while in the ring.
Bottom line, Knockout League is a wonderful take on video game boxing because it takes liberties with the sport. The roster makes each battle feel fresh and unique, forcing you to learn as you climb the chain to greatness. Some people might be put off from being stationary and unable to prance around the ring like Muhammad Ali, but I feel this disappointment will melt away when you realize how much movement is required to parry all of those incoming attacks.
That said, Knockout League is excellent for people of all skill levels, and I'm looking forward to potential updates that might introduce new fighters and gameplay features. Grab your virtual boxing gloves and come out swinging!