3D Classics: Urban Champion
3DS Download | Nintendo / AKIRA | 1-2 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | $4.99 / £5.40
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8th May 2012; By KnucklesSonic8
Urban Champion stars two fighters looking to prove that they are the best in the neighbourhood. Through a series of nighttime fights, players attempt to push their opponent across three blocks along a strip of closed stores and cause them to fall into an open manhole. The rough and tumble mechanics are so dry and simple, it bores you right from the get-go. Pressing the A Button will execute a weak punch, while the B Button will perform a strong one that will cause your opponent to literally tumble back if the punch is successful. Using the Circle Pad or the +Control Pad, you can move left and right across the sidewalk while also directing the location of your fist for either defending against a punch or trying to land one yourself. Simplest fighting game ever? Quite possibly. I've played games that required the same number of buttons (or less), and even they had way more depth than this. Even the presence of a Stamina Gauge (or counter) on the bottom screen does absolutely nothing to add strategy or a sense of fear since the chances of it winding down to a single-digit number are very rare.
While all this is happening, an angry shopkeeper will occasionally throw flower pots from one of the five windows above the respective store you're in front of. What are we, dogs? A simple "Keep it down out there!" would have sufficed, but for some reason he's okay with getting charged with physical assault. And even if he somehow owned every store on the street, how he makes his way to each and every building is beyond me. In all seriousness, though, these flower pots can give you a lucky break if they land on the head of your opponent as he will remain vulnerable for a while.
After a short while, if neither of you have been able to push the opposing player over to the next block, a police siren will sound, prompting the two fighters to run to each end of the street and look up at the sky while doing a whistling gesture. "No officer, we're not doing anything. Just innocently standing outside a closed store, that's all." If they didn't think you were fighting, they'd definitely suspect you of wanting to rob the place! Should the time ever expire before a winner has been decided for that round, the person who's closest to winning will win by default while the opponent gets taken away in the police car. This is probably the best part about the whole game, but even that's being nice about it. Realistically, it's the only source of amusement you could possibly derive from Urban Champion, and the fact that there's more to be said about a mere prop than the gameplay itself sure speaks volumes.
Just in continuing along that train of thought, one final antic is seen when you actually succeed at claiming dominance of the street. A female shopkeeper throws confetti out of the window as an act of congratulating you, but at no time in this game is it ever an occasion worth breaking out the party favors for. Now if this was a Wild West showdown against a criminal, then that would be a different story. Not even close to the tensity that exists in those hypothetical scenarios, Urban Champion's gameplay is about as basic as it comes with no positive attributes to it whatsoever.
Every single time you play Urban Champion, the same sets of circumstances will always take place with a few very minor variations in terms of who wins and loses. Certain rounds will present a Grade-Up Challenge for the chance at improving your rank as a fighter, but even these moments are hardly worth celebrating as you're quickly sent back to face the same opponent, in the same setting, with the same moveset, likely with the same amount of "effort". And it's not like Nintendo tried to hide it either. The fact that you always face the same guy again and again emphasizes just how repetitive the gameplay is. If he was in a different colour or had a different get-up each time you moved on to the next set of rounds, then you might be inclined to think that there's some sort of gang activity going on in the strip of territory the game puts up for show. But with facing that one opponent again and again, I can't really see how you could be considered a champion of the streets.
As this did get the 3D Classics treatment, the presentation tries to get you into the experience through side-angle camera changes to add perspective and elements that pop out. I actually found 3D was kind of beneficial in areas where the rival had an advantage and the camera was fixed behind him. This way, you could focus on his back arm and prepare your move accordingly in that split-second. Otherwise, the 3D doesn't make what really is a bland-looking game more attractive, and when the gameplay is already making the game suffer terribly, there isn't anything else to say about how the attempted visuals enhance gameplay. The same can be said of the subdued music.
You can dress something up all you want but if what you're trying to present isn't even a good idea to begin with, then no amount of theatrics can save it. There are some games that make you laugh because of how bad everything is. Urban Champion definitely isn't one of those games. There's nothing funny about a dressed-up, overly-repetitive, skill-less game with just barely any life in it. Forget making a champion out of you, Urban Champion will make you feel like you got your hands dirty for no good reason, and then had to pay for it. I can say that kids who try to act manly when they're with their friends are about the only ones who I can see playing this more than once. Everyone else will be turned off so fast that any thought of going back will be quickly squashed.
Who is Nintendo fooling trying to market this as worth five bucks? Whether you just finished playing through a deep RPG or are still clocking in time with an endless arcade game, moving to this is such a tremendous downgrade that playing it at all would be an insult to developers both old and new. There's absolutely no justifying spending time with a game that is so grossly inferior to pretty much any game you already play even on a semi-regularly basis. The only punching you do should be directed at Nintendo for wasting resources trying to bring this back.
09/30 - Very Poor
Gameplay 2/10 - Very rudimentary with no positive attributes, same thing over and over, reliance on props demonstrates how incredibly shallow it is
Presentation 5/10 - Interesting perspective and camera changes presented in the 3D implementation, still a bland-looking game, doesn't enhance gameplay
Enjoyment 1/5 - Can only see kids playing more than once, nothing enjoyable about this game, absolutely no depth to it, will be quickly turned off
Extra Content 1/5 - Improving your fighter rank will mean nothing due to the repetition, multiplayer mode available, definitely not worth paying for
Equivalent to a score of 30% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System