Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say and when you see Buenos Aires based Purple Tree studios latest title, it’ll be clear where its inspiration comes from. Thunder Ray is an arcade boxing offering, that feels extremely reminiscent of the classic Super Punch-Out of the SNES era, but with a more modern coat of paint and a bit of a twist. Here you play as Thunder Ray – the best boxer in the world, but that all changes when you are zapped by an alien, transported to another realm and tasked with defeating all the best fighters in the galaxy, to become the true GOAT of the universe. It’s a simple tale that frames the action and is well narrated by your coach and his extremely Barry White gravelly voice.
Gameplay is all about throwing jabs, hooks, and uppercuts while all the time paying attention to your opponent, so you can read when they are going to attack and you can duck, dive and dodge their incoming blows. It’s a simple system that is easy to pick up, as you fill your super meter to let you unleash a super powerful attack; all while getting in a sneaky charge attack from time to time as well. Patterns and queues are really the main focus of the gameplay, as button mashing will only get you so far in the ring. Fights are fair on lower levels, but they become extremely challenging on anything above normal difficultly… though beware! The final boss is a huge difficultly spike of its own and will see you having to really dig deep.
Aside from the gameplay the game is stunning to look at, that is enriched by a hand drawn animated style – that is fast, fluid and packed with details. With each fight bringing with it a new take on the visual front, but there are also lots of little touches that add to the visual fidelity; like how each fighter gets more bruised and bloody as the fights go on, to the point if you time a super attack for your finisher, you blow your opponent away in a cloud of crimson and bits. The only issue I had with Thunder Ray was its length as there are only eight fights in total, that you can sometimes complete in minutes, but it’s a game built on replayability and working your way up the difficulties, pushing your skills to the limits.
Thunder Ray is a solid one-two combo, firstly delivering a simple but well-rounded combat system that feeds off an all time classic, and then hitting you with its jaw dropping visuals that are a true feast for the eye. If you’re looking for an arcade square up, you could do far worse than getting in the ring with this retro inspired contender.
An Xbox review copy of Thunder Ray was provided by Purple Tree’s PR team, and the game is out now on Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Switch for around £15.