Teleroboxer
  • Genre:
    • Fighting
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Nintendo
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 07/21/1995
    • US 08/14/1995
Score: 70%

This review was published on 07/13/2016.

Teleroboxer is a boxing video game published and developed by Nintendo for the Virtual Boy. It was originally released in Japan on July 21, 1995, and North America on August 14, 1995, coinciding with the launch of the Virtual Boy in both of those regions. The game was known as Teleroboxing during development, and it was shown off at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show before its release. Nintendo is certainly no stranger to the boxing game genre, as they developed the legendary Punch-Out boxing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was released way back in 1987. In some ways, Teleroboxer is a spiritual successor to Punch-Out, except it failed to truly pass on the torch. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the game was released on the Virtual Boy, which was both a critical and commercial failure. Some of the game's problems have little to do with the platform it's on, though. You could say that Teleroboxer doesn't quite have the punch of its predecessor.

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The game takes place in the 22nd century, when a technology known as telerobotics became commonplace in society. This technology made it so that a robot would mirror the body movements of the human in control of it, effectively making the user a puppeteer. People used this technology to control robots to perform tasks that would normally be unbearable to humans. In order to increase the public's interest in telerobotics, the pre-eminent scientist in the field, Dr. Edward Maki Jr., used the technology to create something called Teleroboxing. Teleroboxing is a sport in which human players, referred to as teleroboxers, remotely control robots to engage in boxing matches against each other. Not long after its creation, Teleroboxing achieved worldwide prominence. As a result of its popularity, a massive Teleroboxing tournament was organized to determine the true world champion. Prove your worth by entering the tournament and facing off against many ferocious foes. Do you have what it takes to be the best?

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As far as the graphics are concerned, this is one of the best looking games on the Virtual Boy. The graphics are obviously hampered by the Virtual Boy's eyestrain inducing red and black color scheme, but they still manage to look good in spite of that. Action is viewed from a first-person perspective, allowing you to directly face your robotic opponent. The only visible aspect of your own robot is its fists, which will frantically move around as you execute attacks. There are no real backgrounds to speak of, so the focus is placed entirely on your opponents. That may seem like a bad thing, but the opposing robots make up for it by looking absolutely amazing. Each robot is constructed out of many highly detailed 2-D sprites that move independently from each other, resulting in some extremely sophisticated animations. There's also the Virtual Boy's stereoscopic 3-D effect achieved through parallax trickery, but these graphics would look just as good without that stuff.

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Controlling this game is an absolute nightmare, because it uses the Virtual Boy's ridiculous controller to its fullest potential. You use the L and R shoulder buttons to punch with your left and right fists, while you use the left and right d-pads to guard with your left and right fists, plus do a bunch of other stuff. There are different kinds of guards, like simply pressing up on either d-pad will do a basic guard with either your left or right fist, but pressing right on the left d-pad or pressing left on the right d-pad will do a body guard. Additionally, pressing left on the left d-pad or pressing right on the right d-pad makes you dodge in that direction. The two d-pads can also be used in conjunction with the L and R buttons to do different punches. For example, you hold right on the right d-pad and press R for a right hook, hold left on the right d-pad and press R for a right body blow, hold down on the right d-pad and press R for a right uppercut, and so on. Are you confused yet? Well, you should be. The controls are as unintuitive as humanly possible.

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The absurdly complex controls don't stop there, oh no! On top of all the basic punches, guards, and evasive maneuvers, there are also special moves. Most of these are executed by holding down certain directions on one or both of the d-pads until your robot's fists begin to glow, then pressing the L and R buttons simultaneously. This will unleash a flurry of punches onto your opponent, inflicting a good bit of damage to them. You have to be strategic with your usage of special moves, however, as opponents will typically dodge them if you simply use specials all willy-nilly. Special moves can be charged while blocking, so you can surprise the enemy with a powerful counterattack. For the most part, this is the main way to land special moves. Conceptually, the special move system in this game is cool, and it's rather simple when compared to the overall complexity of the controls. It's strange, but the special moves are easier to learn than the basic ones.

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Your objective is plain and simple: beat the opposing player's robot in a one-on-one boxing match by fully depleting their life meter before they fully deplete yours. Each round is a minute long and matches can last up to five rounds. Both you and the opponent will recover some health in between rounds, though you can strategically opt out of this to prevent your opponent from recovering. If neither you nor your opponent is down by the end of the fifth round, then the one with the most health left will win by default. As for the opponents themselves, each one of them will use different strategies against you, in addition to having unique special moves. Similar to Punch-Out, this gives fights a slight puzzle vibe to them, as you need to figure out the trick to beating each opponent. Unlike Punch-Out, however, you'll be too busy wrestling with the controls to focus on the fights. This coupled with the intense difficulty of later fights results in some intense frustration. Also, there are only eight opponents in the game, so there's not much content here. You can choose to defend your title after beating the final opponent, but that merely entails in fighting harder versions of the same robots.

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Part of what made the original Punch-Out such a great game was its simple and intuitive control scheme, enabling anyone to jump in and begin enjoying the game with minimal fuss. That's not the case with Teleroboxer. This game could have actually been pretty good if it weren't for the insanely complicated control scheme. It's got amazing graphics for a Virtual Boy game and the core game play isn't bad, but the overly convoluted controls ruin everything. It's also a bit too short and lacks multiplayer. Even so, Teleroboxer is still one of the better games on the Virtual Boy, though that isn't saying much.

Word Count: 1,189

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