The basics of Beast Boxing Turbo are fairly easy to sum up. Z and X let you jab left or right, you use the left and right arrow keys to move or modify your jabs into hooks, the up key modifies your attacks into powerful uppercuts, and holding the down key blocks. Punching or being hit costs energy - without energy you don't do worthwhile damage, and you move slower. If you can get multiple hits on the enemy without running out of energy or being hit yourself, you'll build up a power bar which leads to you being 'on fire' where your strikes do full damage. Keep on punching the opponent until they run out of health, and you'll win the round. Best of three wins the match. Pretty simple, right?
Yes, yes it is, and that's a big part of the appeal. With such a straightforward set of moves, the matches become about learning to anticipate your opponent, and there's a real sense of achievement when you reach the point of being able to KO an opponent who initially seemed unbeatable. Getting the hang of different punches and how to chain them with movement and blocking takes just the right amount of time. In short, it's fun rather than tedious.
Building your personal skills is not the only aspect to progression though - each match earns you money, which can be spent on training to boost your stats (attack damage, energy, speed, etc) or buying equipment which gives you a percentage increase to stats. You can theoretically change up your equipment between matches to tailor yourself against different opponents, but I never felt the need to do this, instead choosing a strategy (damage and energy with some speed) and getting equipment which benefited those key areas.
The cash you earn (including from defeats) means that you will eventually grind your way to a win even if you reach a match you just can't beat through skill, though I don't think it's really possible to play the game without developing an understanding of your opponents - building your skills gets expensive quite quickly, and you get a lot more reward from winning than from losing. While the skills and equipment can make a big difference (one piece of gear in particular gave me a 50% damage boost), it's not the real meat of the game. I was far more thrilled at learning to deal with special attacks from my opponents, or those exciting matches where a brilliant streak of dexterity and intuition takes me from being on the ropes to a surprise win, none of which has a great deal to do with the stats and gear. You don't unlock any unique moves through the upgrade system - which is of course part of what makes the game so wonderfully straightforward - but sitting there as you click to make the numbers bigger is more of a chore than fun. Kind of like real training, I guess.
There are 12 matches to play through - it's not a long game, though after you beat the last opponent you unlock a New Game Plus mode where the opponents are tougher. However, they don't appear to change up their behaviour, which would have made things really interesting. For a small, cheap game though, I think the quality of those matches (which you will be replaying as long as you've chosen a difficulty that gives you a challenge - and to do otherwise would be robbing yourself of the best parts of the game) provides an entertaining and absorbing distraction that doesn't overstay its welcome. The core gameplay is smooth and satisfying even when you're taking a beating, and that feeling of tangible learning and improvement in both knowledge and physical skill is something I don't get from too many games.
What's All this then?
I like making and writing about PC games - mostly strategy games. Expect after action reports, thoughts about design and gameplay, and maybe even a few prototypes.