Recently, we got to go hands-on with a review copy of VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out!, the latest arcade boxing experience from Vanilla Gaming Company. Whether you’re on the fence or have no idea what the game entails and are kind of curious, then we have got you covered with our SGO PC review.
VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out! PC Review
As the Steam Store page aptly says, when thinking of Retro Knock-Out! players should certainly think-
Leisure Suit Larry gets lost in Frank Millers Sin City then runs into Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! in a dark alley.
If none of those references hit for you then you may be punching above your league with this one but do not fret, this review will break it down for you.
From the outset, it is important to understand VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out! is an arcade experience through and through. The game takes liberties with the sport, the art, and the narrative in very creative ways and all add to the game’s character. And this game has a lot of character. From the parody splash screens, satirical in-game ads before a fight, and comedic under and overtones, VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out! is fast-paced arcade action in stunning form. So, if you enjoyed games like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!, then it’s likely you will feel right at home with VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out!.
More important, Retro Knock-Out! emphasizes some of the main parts of retro gaming, not just in name but in execution. There is no hand holding and the game is absolutely a challenge. There are three tiers of championships with about 10 or so fighters each. The very first bout of the first bracket unfolds like an expertly built hands-off tutorial. It teaches players to look for their opponent’s tell, minimize wasted movement as well as how to capitalize using power punches. Everything else can pretty much be read in the “Tips” book within the player’s apartment. That said, do not make light of the training mini-games. Underneath the comedic and often raunchy jokes lies genuine game design, providing players essential tools for bettering their reflexes, timing, and dodging- key components to winning their next bout. They also provide boosts or debuffs depending on player performance.
A key component of the game’s aesthetic is the art itself. While not graphically impressive like a modern AAA title running the latest tech, the artwork and comic book-style delivery of the narrative are beautifully done. The stylistic interpretation of the world, the characters, and the atmosphere anchor the game visually, cementing the arcade and retro feel Vanilla Gaming Company set out to capture.
The Bad (sort of)
Honestly, it’s not fair to really call the things in this section “bad”. For the most part, they do not necessarily detract from the game. Rather each element is a part of the game’s overall character. Labeling it “good” or “bad” will come down to consumer preference. The first of these is the game’s learning curve. Bottomline, Retro Knockout! is challenging. Despite being a parody, the game truly intends to be arcade in nature and call back to older games where losing was merely a part of the experience. Younger gamers or those with less time to put in may find this to be a detractor, but given the game’s overall length, I’d argue it’s a near-perfect balance.
If you find yourself to not be a fan of raunchy comedic material then you’re in for a long one. While not over the top completely, VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out! is consistent with underlying sexual tones, erotic allusions, and on-the-nose raunchy material. Again, this is not inherently bad, but not everyone’s cup of tea. However, for the more explicit material, the game does have a censored mode. Players can turn this on or off at any time.
If I had to pick a genuine drawback, it would be the pixel art used for the player hub world. Between fights, players can explore the apartment of the character, Vanilla. I enjoyed the comic visuals of the narrative and the in-ring style. This made being thrust into a minimal-pixel art apartment a bit disappointing. Again, not a bad thing, but questionable based on preference.
and the Verdict
Simply put, VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out! is a short and sweet arcade boxing experience. The game capitalizes on retro-gaming, not just in name but in spirit as well. It provides a challenge, simple controls, and quick gameplay for short sessions. Anyone can pick up the game, just be mindful of the humor and sometimes 4th wall breaking self-awareness. If arcade sports games are your thing, then you will definitely want to give this game a try.
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VanillaBeast: Retro Knock-Out! is a short and sweet arcade boxing experience capitalizing on retro-gaming, not just in name but in spirit with challenging gameplay, simple controls, and fast-paced action. Anyone can pick up the game, just be mindful of the humor and sometimes 4th wall breaking self-awareness. If arcade sports is your thing, then this is a game for you.
- Visually appealing stylized artwork
- Arcade gaming at its finest
- Simple control scheme
- Censored mode for explicit material
- Perhaps too challenging for some
- Humor can be a detractor based on preference