The Thrill of the Fight is an arcade boxing game that takes players through a number of training minigames. The minigames are then unlocked in standard boxing matches for you to compete in. Players can also create custom multiplayer matches or stages for other people to play in (similar to Super Mario Maker).
I had played this game before on PC and I got it again when the Oculus Quest version was released because I thought it would be an excellent fit for the device’s controller layout. It’s not like there’s much else available on the Oculus Store right now anyway, but that’s beside the point. From my experience with it on PC, I should’ve known better than to get my hopes up for this port; especially since none of my friends owns the Rift version, and there’s no cross-play with the Steam version. While it might seem like a cheap cash-in release for just 15 dollars to those who haven’t played it yet, I can promise you that it is definitely not; however, we’ll get more into the specifics of how the game plays and feels in a minute.
Before we do that though let me discuss some context around this review: I’m mainly a PC gamer. From first-person shooters all the way down to Minecraftian sandbox adventure games (mostly) I’ve tried them all; heck even indie music games. This means that when playing The Thrill of the Fight on Oculus Quest I don’t really have as much experience as most other players might.
As a result, I will focus more on whether The Thrill of the Fight is worth its asking price and what you can expect from it if you decide to take the plunge, rather than try to deliver detailed criticism against it. I feel like this approach might be preferable for people who don’t have much experience with boxing games or virtual reality in general considering that their specific skills are needed in order to play either one effectively. That being said let us begin our review!
You Are a Boxer – No a Space-Boxer!
First off, when playing The Thrill of the Fight, you should know that you’re not going to get an easy ride just because your opponent is only made out of polygons and doesn’t have a physical form. You really need to know what you’re doing in order to get anywhere with the game, and by that I mean it’s brutally hard. This is not your average Wii Sports boxing!
You will be climbing the ladder of fighters, by beating them until they either decide to retire or if they just can’t take anymore and want to quit (at which point you’ll probably have unlocked their avatar by then). You’ll also meet some interesting looking people along the way: boxer Santa Claus, grim reaper… boxer? The list goes on! Not all of these characters are mandatory though so don’t worry about missing out on anything.
Somehow I managed to fumble my way through this fight after spamming punches around.
However, despite this challenge, there’s something that I find truly remarkable about The Thrill of the Fight: every match is different! This might seem like a given for any boxing game out there (or competitive fighting game in general), but what I mean to say is that no matter how many times you play the same character against each other; it will always feel like a new fight. You never know whether your opponent will choose to go on an all-out offensive and attack you early on (and perhaps forgetting defence altogether) or if they’re going to take their time building up their strength and try and beat you down later down the line. Heck, some characters even have special abilities that can completely change the tide of battle by themselves.
Another thing that I feel is worth mentioning when talking about the characters in The Thrill of the Fight is how much personality they all have in and of themselves: whether it’s in their looks and design, or just in their mannerisms. During a match you’ll come across people who will laugh or smile after landing a blow on you, others might taunt you by saying something like “my grandmother hits harder than you” before trying to prove it with an instant KO punch. In fact, one of my favorite quotes from any character thus far has been that someone said “this fight brings back memories from the bar scene from Star Wars!” after beating me down pretty badly during a match.
In all honesty, this game would be worth buying double the cost if all it contained was a collection of funny and interesting quotes from characters whilst you fought them. It’s that good!
Not for your average VR newbie then…
In short what I’m trying to say is that The Thrill of the Fight has been designed with those who are used to fighting games in mind, as well as those used to virtual reality gaming as well. That being said, some people might still buy this game on a whim thinking they can just jump right into it without any problems: but don’t be fooled by its pretty exterior! This isn’t going to be an easy ride for anyone not familiar with either one of these things – especially considering how hard some fights can get at times!
How long will I last?
One of the main things that I have to comment on when it comes to The Thrill of the Fight is its difficulty, mainly because it’s so unrelenting! However, one thing you can be certain of is that this game will not last forever. In fact, if you were wanting a real challenge from this virtual boxing experience then you might actually want to think about putting the controller down and walking away before an inevitable defeat at the hands of your opponent takes place.
That being said there are some achievements for you to unlock scattered throughout the game if only just for bragging purposes – but these tend not to take too much effort or time out of your experience with what’s on offer here. That being said, however, even something as simple as unlocking achievements is an issue if you’re playing this game on the go with the Oculus Quest which doesn’t support achievements, since The Thrill of the Fight, unfortunately, requires them to be unlocked in order to progress onto its next fight.
For me personally, I’ve unlocked quite a lot, but that’s probably because I’m someone who can spend hours upon hours playing through something like Dark Souls if it means getting my hands on some well-deserved bloodstains and souls along the way. Those who might not have hundreds of hours available for VR games will most likely find themselves stuck early on or at least after unlocking everything there is to unlock.