REVIEW: Steel Champions

Boxing has never caught on with me. Don’t get it wrong, I love wanton and gratuitous violence as much as the next man (I am American, after all), but I can’t stand to watch it as a sport or entertainment (the Rocky movies, maybe, for my Stallone impression, but Hugh Jackman didn’t help matters). And with Steel Champions (80 MSP) positioning itself as an extremely-lite (and formerly Windows Phone) version of robotic fisticuffs, I knew it was destined for trouble.

Steel Champions - Screen2

The first fight is Glass Joe-easy; Domo arigato, Mr. Cyboto.

The screenshots here may not be representative, but Steel Champions is essentially Punch Out!! with robots. Regrettably, any favorable comparison ends with that statement. Before each fight, you can bone up on your next opponent, recycle through the same canned phrases uttered by your engineer and manager (I’m a robot named MAX, I seem more human than machine, play our free Windows Phone RPG, yada yada yada), or do a quick training regimen on the punching bag (preferred). Matching the punch commands will enable you to start off the next fight with a full (or near-full) special meter.

Once you’re in the ring, your moveset is basic; the ability to block or dodge incoming attacks, a pair of high and regular punches (left and right, natch), and a meter which fills up during the fight by landing hits, allowing you to throw the aforementioned ‘super punch’, if you will, that does more damage than a standard hit. Outside of that minimal ‘strategy’, most will probably spam attacks and / or blocks until victory, which should come early and often (my only loss occurred while I bought the game, after the demo expired mid-match).

Steel Champions - Screen

Sadly, your punching bag has more dialogue (and personality) than any of the fighters you’ll face.

For a game that idolizes Punch-Out!!, or at the very least seems aware of it, it doesn’t think to bring any of that game’s unique moves or personality over to its own. It’s simply a series of lifeless fights (totaling 14, if you last that long), some of them reheated rematches, spread across three championship leagues.

What you’re left with is a ‘game’ stripped of almost all interactivity, a button-masher that can be bested in under 45 minutes, meeting very little in the way of resistance and nothing resembling a story or a resolution once the punching is done. Ergo, your toughest opponent in Steel Champions isn’t some robotic uber-fighter; it’s boredom. And that, kids, is fighting a losing battle every time.

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26 thoughts on “REVIEW: Steel Champions”

    1. I saw the comments below but let me disagree with you about the tactics, Robotron in some point of the fight goes to hyper mode or something and turns red like overheat, then there is another guy after him don’t recall his name which is like don flamenco in some point of the fight he just wait for your punch to trap you in a combo, then you got the next champion who changes his weak point, then a robot that turns transparent and another robot that you can’t block his punch.

      What I don’t like about this game was a crash that I had but after that it is pretty cool, and I am just saying its not true about the part of the tactics, the rest of the review and maybe because the music is bad ass I agree, but this game in special is very popular in brazil. And looking for some tips online about it. by the way I like the nokia ad that you have on the site with the not fight commercial, I own a Lumia as well, the phone rocks!

    2. Eh, we’ll just have to agree to disagree, I’m afraid. I never had to do anything special to win fights, besides alternating punches with blocks.

      The ads are all done by WordPress (the only downside to using their framework), and show up for anyone that doesn’t have a WordPress account. I have no control over what’s shown. Personally, I own an iPhone. 🙂

    3. ewww iPhone…, the best phone-console communication is Windows Phone-Xbox, either way on your punching bag screenshot is missing the information buttons which is odd, have you updated the game?

    4. Could be a difference between the Xbox screenshots and phone screenshots. Not sure if they updated the game or not. The Xbox website screenshots seem to be the same.

    5. yup they did, I know phone version is updated every month because you get notifications on all your games in one icon and went I ahead to the xbox and when you click the game its asking you for update, does the xbox has something that notify when a game has been updated?, that would be cool hoping Xbox infinity comes ahead with this little improvements

    6. Nothing that notifies you automatically, but it will when you load up the game. And let’s just hope that the next Xbox keeps indies around. 🙂

    7. That could be true. I didn’t play it after the update. I still don’t know how much bearing that would have on the review, but it would help, no doubt. I think if the developers still plan on doing a sequel, and they take the lessons learned with the first game, it could make for a fuller product. Phone games and console games can be completely different animals, though. They don’t always transfer and adapt equally.

    8. To make you feel better, the phone version sucked even more at first, its was not because they were 2 different animals, it was because the game was bad at the release, now the game is ok, I won’t say angry birds standard but pretty enjoyable.

    9. Strangely enough, I -do- feel better. 🙂 All talk on the original aside, I do wish the Devs the best of luck with the sequel and / or the next project.

  1. Firstly, everyone, I appreciate the formal speak, but please, cut it out with the ‘Mr. Hurley’ stuff. You’re making me sound like a 70-year-old man. 🙂

    Kerry, in regards to the review (and Alan said it just as well in his comment), I am only one opinion. Not even that big of one, in terms of who listens to me and who just absently reads reviews they find online. I’m sure the Windows Phone site is much, MUCH, more influential than what I manage, and if they‘re featuring it as many times as they have this month, then I‘d say you‘re doing well. I wouldn‘t let my opinion on it get you down. I do realize that it’s hard to look at different sources of feedback and wonder why one person / site would favor it while another wouldn’t. You want to put out the best game possible, and I believe in that. I’m all for that. Part of the reason may be the platform. Phone games are fast becoming the game of choice for, well, everyone. It’s portable, cheap (typically), and there are plenty of good time-wasters to be had. A boxing game like yours would do well, I’d imagine, being played in small chucks of time, on a commute to work, a quick break, what have you. Though when it comes to reviewing mobile games, the bar is being raised, but its products are also currently judged on a far easier scale. They get away with more shortcomings, in my opinion.

    Alternatively, the XBLIG channel, while similar in some regards to the WP / Android / iOS market, is based on a console, where, like it or not, gamers expect a little more for their dollar / MSP. It’s just how it is. Specifically, I’ve come to expect more from these games. Indie development isn’t just some immediate ticket to acclaim. I forgive quite a bit sometimes, so long as other parts of a game bring it back up and even out the negatives. I’m not going to let things slide just for the sake of putting a glowing review up, regardless if I think the developers are nice guys / gals and honestly did their best. That’s not fair. For ‘Steel Champions’, I didn’t have much good to mention. It’s generic stuff. I was bored by the fourth fight, and there was nothing there to drag me in and keep me interested, as I’ve mentioned in detail, both in the review and in the comments. I don’t know what else to say about it.

    Sometimes, too, a mobile game’s magic is lost in porting it to a different platform, and vice versa. In my opinion, I think the game is lacking, though others will, no doubt, disagree. If it seemed like I was being unnecessarily harsh, I apologize. In attempts to get my point across, I can occasionally come off being mean-spirited. Just trust that I’m doing so with other gamers (some of them on tight budgets) in mind, as well as trying to improve the overall quality of indie games. If I don’t call you guys out for things that I think you’re doing wrong / not doing as well as others, then no one grows, and we start to get the same stale air of ‘sameness’ that the AAA developers and publishers are always accused of fermenting. We need to do better as a whole.

  2. I saw this game on the phone and get it on the xbox, and I am actually enjoying it, and I am getting constant updates from it, I disagree with the authors opinion, but like he said it is not his style so instead of embracing the good he is focusing on the bad, not really what a reviewer should do.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the game. I don’t like to focus on the negative when I’m doing a write-up for a game, but in certain cases (‘Steel Champions’ is one of them), that’s all there is. The art is nice, and done well, but everything else just… isn’t. There’s not much animation, no strategy beyond button-mashing, no personality to any of the fights, and the dialogue repeats itself every few phrases. I applaud any developer that releases a game. It’s tough work, but once you start asking money for something, it’s open to criticism. I’m just telling it exactly how I found it.

    2. With all the respect to Mister Hurley, the fact that I can’t understand about this review is that we got a totally different feedback from the market, specially for the Windows Phone, which in this case the game is featured as one of the best games of today.

      here is the link: (it will change after february 26th)
      http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/featured-games

      and the game is 4.5 stars, it is 3.5 stars on the xbox, being the same version, which totally caught our attention and we don’t know why, perhaps is because people are already expecting bad from the indie games developers and some of them only look for the negative aspect of it.

      We totally respect your review and opinion but, it is hard to believe that the game is BAAAAAAD as it is mentioned here, by one of the most popular indie games reviewers, it just wouldn’t being featured on the store 5 times this month, if it was that BAAAAAAAD, just wouldn’t happen…

      As for the money aspect, I read the part of ‘asking for money’ we totally get it, but you are always open to criticism even if is FREE, that’s just how people are, and I have seem reviews of FREE Apps.

      Again to finish, we respect your review, it is interesting, also we respect that you are taking your time to do this, as the matter of fact we won’t compare the WPCentral site to this site, because it is like comparing us to Square Enix or Blizzard, even tho we love the feedback from WPCentral

      http://www.wpcentral.com/steel-champions-sending-robots-down-count

      It feel more complete and objective, but this is like between night and day from the results of the game in terms of the users downloads and purchases and the reviews.

    3. Again, it’s a matter of opinion. That WPCentral review doesn’t feel ‘more complete’ to me – in places it reads almost like a press release.

      I agree with Hurley’s argument that people might expect more from a game on a home console than on a mobile device. I think players will be more forgiving of flaws on a phone because of the very conspicuous limitations of the platform.

      Moreover, mobile games are oiften used for quick play sessions to keep you entertained while on the bus or similar, while a home console game has you sitting down on your sofa specially to play it, rather than just passing a few minutes. A console game has to deliver to higher standard, so a game that works while commuting might not work when you set aside an evening for it.

      Regardless, even if you released the most perfect game ever created, someone wouldn’t like it. That’s just how life is. You can’t please everyone.

    4. Woaa, this conversation became HOT, let me put it this way, it is not the best game I played but it was ok for 20 minutes of fun, I won’t play this again, unless a sequel is being made or DLC Content is out, but for 20 minutes of ok fun, it was worth the dollar, if you think about it, that’s what you spend on a candy machine or a coke, and definitely this is more than a candy bar, however reading the comments about no such thing as an objective review, please check “judgement day” episodes with Tallarico and I don’t remember the other guy name, that’s what I want to see on reviews of games that I play.

      But I guess it is on all of us that sometimes we differ with the reviewer, sometimes we have fun with a game that is not recommended and sometimes we want to search for this reviewer that is similar to us on our game style.

      Also I am very happy that the developer is active in this forum
      @Kerry how you beat batsumon on the second fight?

      Thanks

    5. I get what you’re saying. It’s no hard feelings on anyone’s end, I hope. Differing opinions is all. I do remember that show (Judgement Day), also remember how they butted heads on some games, so yeah, I’d say that’s similar to what has happened here on certain reviews.

      One thing I’ll add, since you made the candy / coke comparison for indie games, and this ties into how I do my reviews, as well. I agree, the cost is minute in relation to retail / arcade games, though I still feel that gets away from what indies should be about. If you get five, ten, even twenty minutes, of sustenance from a game, that’s great, though you (and I) should never just settle on that and go ‘well, it’s only the cost of a candy bar’. Indies should be about showing up ‘the bigger guys and games’, doing something unique and / or different, something that either -can’t- be done by bigger studios (either out of risk or lack or creativity), or (if it’s a short, one-off, arcade kind of game) make it fun throughout, have some style or personality, something quirky that people will take notice of, not just another generic ‘kind of like this, but this’ game with bland gameplay that may sell a few dozen / hundred copies, then is quickly forgotten.

      But again, if you enjoyed it, that’s all that matters. 🙂

      And as far as Batsumon, my two cents: I pretty much applied the same tactics throughout— mix up attacks, alternate with block / dodge, repeat. Just keep on it. Most of the fights for me never left the first round, and most opponents didn’t get up after the second knockdown.

    6. if you are talking about the latest version, you can’t block and mix attack, what you need to do is dodge the punch and start hitting on the body, his head is stronger and he will take less damage on it, be careful on your heart stamina if you run out, he will go crazy on you, and try not to punch him like crazy, wait for the punch, dodge and hit on the body.

      And I agree with Hurley usually games and played and then forgotten, thanks to Microsoft we were promoted big time and the revenue is awesome, it means we will start working on a sequel of course improve on what we lack/missing from the constructive feedback.

      Thanks for being supportive of our games.

      Best regards.

  3. Did you know that this game that you mention was destiny for trouble was actually game of the day on the Windows Phone on February 12th 2013? and was rated a good game by WPCentral.com

    1. I suppose it depends on the viewpoint. If you like generic fighting (spamming the same attacks, no special moves or different animations?), generic robot opponents (I’m serious, the punching bag has more personality than any of the fighters) and the same pre-match dialogue for EVERY fight, fine. For anyone who wants something unique or similar to Punch Out!!, keep looking.

      As always, I am one opinion, and that opinion isn’t always shared by others. Some will undoubtedly like it. I do wish you guys the best with the game (and congrats on your success thus far), Kerry, but it’s just not very fun, in my opinion.

  4. It’s possibly too niche a comparison, but what I thought of as soon as I saw this game was Teleroboxer on the Virtual Boy. Minus the 3D effect, of course. And considering the 3D effect was Teleroboxer’s one selling point, I decided immediately to skip Steel Champions. Sounds like the correct choice.

    By the way, good work on the ‘boredom is a losing battle’ bit at the end there. I enjoyed it.

    1. Ah yes, the Virtual Boy, the -only- Nintendo system I don’t own (so far, and the WiiU is an eventuality), though I do distinctly remember playing Teleroboxer and Mario’s Tennis at an in-store kiosk. The 3D effect was quite good in that one, if I’m remembering it correctly. Innovative stuff, but that was a momentary lapse of good judgement on Nintendo’s part. It’s a good thing they don’t continue to shoot themselves in the foot with underpowered and ill-advised hardware these days, right? …..Right?

      At any rate, Steel Champions is baaaad, agreed.

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