FaceBreaker K.O. Party Review
FaceBreaker K.O. Party box art
System: Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Canada 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA Sports 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 13, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

The first time we read about the Wii-mote/Nunchuk combo, among our first thoughts was, "That would be really cool in a boxing game." Wii Sports came along and verified this, but while it's a lot of fun to play, the boxing mini-game in that title doesn't exactly max out the Wii's capabilities. Since then there have been a few attempts, but none have captured the energy and violence of a real match.

FaceBreaker K.O. Party screenshot

Just in time for Christmas 2008, along comes the delightfully over-the-top FaceBreaker K.O. Party. However, due to its many flaws it's not the boxing game we've been waiting for, and it plays more like a traditional fighter, but it's pretty much the best Wii owners have.

The first thing anyone will notice is the game's ridiculously cartoonish style, presented through terrific-for-the-Wii graphics. The characters are all played-up stereotypes (a few girls who look like Pink, a huge, dumb bodybuilder named Brick, a Joker knockoff called Socks), and one of the arenas is a trailer park. The announcer has a crazy voice that's amusing when you're winning, but incredibly annoying when you're losing and frustrated. The intros to each fight always look great, are sometimes laugh-out-loud funny (at least the first time), and, at any rate, can be skipped with a press of the plus-sign button. Since it's an EA game, the developers had plenty of licensed music to choose from, and you'll be listening to lots of new hard rock (and seeing ads for the songs in the lower left-hand corner).

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The action takes place in a 3-D ring, and you view the boxers from the side, as in a fighting game, rather than from the first-person, over-the-shoulder, and moving-camera views employed in most other boxing titles. The fighting system and controls are brilliant in their simplicity; aiming for a casual market, the developers have eschewed the absurd complexity in vogue in modern fighters' move lists. You'll never have to do anything more complicated than holding one button and pressing another.

FaceBreaker K.O. Party screenshot

You move around the ring with the Nunchuk joystick. Punching with or flicking your left and right hands will make your character jab with his respective hand (be sure not to fully extend your arms, or you'll hurt your elbows). Holding the B button switches your attacks and blocks from high to low, the D-pad throws, and Z blocks. Leaning back will "charge" your punches and dodge attacks; charging and blocking at the same time parries. Holding A while jabbing executes a special move (or "Breaker"). By hitting your opponent several times without getting hit yourself, you charge a yellow meter, and the more that meter is charged, the more damage your special moves do. When it's charged all the way, you can execute a "FaceBreaker" for an instant K.O.

That's about all there is to it, and it doesn’t change depending on what character you select (though each character does have strengths and weaknesses such as power, reach, speed, etc.). It's simple enough that anyone can pick it up and learn quickly, but there's enough nuance that an advanced player will enjoy learning the game thoroughly. As a tutorial explains, blocks and dodges work on jabs and charged punches, but not Breakers, while a jab will stop a Breaker.

FaceBreaker K.O. Party screenshot

It would be the perfect Wii fighting game, but for two fatal problems. The first is that the action is way, way too fast. There really isn't enough time to react to anything, and on top of that, the motion controls aren't really given to precise timing.

Screenshots / Images
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