Platform: PlayStation 2
Genre: 3D female boxing
Review Date: 5/11/03
Welcome to the world of female boxing! It was only a matter of time before someone took the obscure girl fighting genre and put a boxing spin on it. This is a Japanese bargain title, and as such the production values and depth of play are a bit weak, but fans of all-girl fighting will find a certain amount of guilty pleasure in the game. The game utilizes many of the typical Japanese male fantasy stereotypes and the combatants feature studious schoolgirls, nurses, office ladies, and some Chinese and American fighters as well. Having never played any boxing games before, I don't know how the control scheme compares. You can throw left and right punches, gut punches, and powerful swinging blows and uppercuts. You can also defend high and low, and bob and weave out of harm's way. Each player also has a small set of super attacks that are accompanied by flashy animations as well as the character yelling out the name of the move in typical Japanese fashion.
Like most contemporary fighting games, "Love Upper" features a variety of modes including tournament, versus, survival, and practice. It also includes a view option that allows you to ogle your favorite fighting beauties and check out their costumes and poses. Each girl has three costumes, but you only have the standard boxing trunks to begin with and have to earn the racier costumes by beating the game. There are also a couple of unlockable characters, but the difficulty of the game combined with its uncompelling and repetitive gameplay makes you not want to go through the effort. As a fighting game, it's fun to just pick up and play, but as a costume collecting game it's very frustrating and tedious.
Graphics wise, the game is average and unremarkable. Each fight takes place in a plain old boxing ring with generic fans yelling and waving in the audience. The girls are fairly attractive, but they suffer from crude modelling and rendering. The neck seams are particularly distracting, and make the characters look like action figures with removeable heads. The proportions are also amusingly off, and all the girls have large heads and enormous boobs. The overly distracting bouncing breasts incorporate the water balloon physics model and are laughably offensive. The music and sound effects are also average and unremarkable, but they do feature some delightfully awkward english like "Defeat is unnecessary for me", "Sorry to spoil your cute face", "You are like the princess - you can never fight me", and "Power up your strength and go back to the street fight." Further evidence of the game's low budget roots is an unbelievable bug in versus mode which amusingly doesn't allow the second player to fight back (which doesn't make for much of a match). The fact that this made it through QA only enforces the notion that no one has ever even played in versus mode, and that the game was only intended to be played alone and away from leering eyes. Unfortunately, while the girl fighting genre has been dormant for several years now, this title doesn't give me any confidence that we'll be seeing a new wave of next generation girl fighting games any time soon.