Victory Road is a boxing coach simulator filled with depth and glorious pixel art greatness! If ever you wanted to be Doc Louis rather than Little Mac (aka the iconic characters from Nintendo’s Punch-Out!!), then Victory Road is without a doubt the indie game for you. Developed by Strange Journey Games in 2019, Victory Road allows you to manage and coach your own custom pixel art boxer. You are expected to direct his training, diet, and in-ring strategy as well. You even are expected to bark out orders during your boxer’s bouts to help him on his way to championship glory.
An indie gem in every sense of the word, Victory Road blends the look and feel of a fighting game with a coaching sim to really keep things moving. With a pixelated art style, Victory Road quickly provides plenty of stats, status screens, and options that really show the game’s level of customization. As you plan out the coming digital days for your custom boxer, you will quickly realize the amount of depth that the game has.
Victory Road is really split into roughly 3 parts. There is the diet/training mode, the money making hot dog stand mini-game, and the actual boxing matches themselves. Each part has quite a bit of strategy and thought required to lead your boxer to championship glory. The real meat of the strategy of the game is the diet/training portion of the game. Here you are expected to improve your boxer by way of planning his meals and which stat building training he does. Of course, it isn’t as simple as just doing weight lifting to improve your boxer’s power. You must maintain the right nutrition stats by way of your diet to maximize the effectiveness of your workout. Also, eating the same meal every time will decrease the mood of your boxer, affecting the quality of your boxer’s workouts.
Embedded in Victory Road‘s other screens are the boxer’s in-ring strategy as well. You must look over everything from his style for the upcoming fight to his skill level with jabs, hooks, and uppercuts. You can even equip gear that can give the boxer a bit of a stat boost in certain areas. This section of the game really allows you to craft your boxer’s style and strengths in each bout.
The amount of strategy involved in Victory Road runs pretty deep. While playing, I noticed that Victory Road was keeping track of calories I didn’t burn so that it could calculate my boxer’s weight loss. When training the boxer to improve stats, the gameplay punishes you for not diversifying the boxer’s training. If you do not practice a certain stat enough, the neglected stat becomes ‘rusty’. The result forces the boxer to take more time and energy to upgrade that stat. That could prove detrimental to your boxer’s timeline if a fight is requested at short notice.
Of course, all of this food, gear, and training time costs money. Aside from fighting and winning bouts, your boxer can also be sent to a mine to do a little work. The alternative brings us to the next mode of Victory Road…the hot dog stand!
As a cute little mini-game, the hot dog stand has you taking orders and racing against the clock to fill them accurately. Almost like a typing tutor, you must read the orders and then remember which key is the one to use or not use to build the order correctly. While it serves as a way to make money, the difficulty ramps up enough that it is never a sure thing. This little mini-game is a fun break in the action to spruce things up a bit.
The last and most dynamic part of Victory Road is the boxing match itself. There you are treated with a very colorful, dynamic, and exciting fighting game styled bout that essentially runs itself. Classic fighting game sound effects liven up this stylistic mode as your boxer throws down the best he knows how. As his trainer/coach, you are allowed to tell him when to do certain defensive and offensive moves. You can even toss in arcade style boosts that give him an edge.
Even more interesting is the combo system that makes itself very apparent through the first few matches. As your boxer fights, they may learn combos with clever and outlandish names that pop up on screen as they use them. In the strategy screen, you can queue these combos to call out at specific moments to your boxer. Doing so at the right time can really turn the tide of a bout.
If left alone, your boxer will take on his foe based upon the strategy you set in realtime. Since you are the trainer, you are allowed to ‘bark out’ offensive and defensive orders to your boxer giving you a little bit of control over the action. Calling for a combo at just the right time will not only queue a gorgeous pixelated notification of the combo starting, but you’ll also be treated to vibrant and action packed special effects as well. Played out in a fighting game-inspired engine, these matches are exciting to watch. The resulting tension during every match is just as present as playing a match of UFC or Fight Night. There are even injuries that can really set back your boxer’s development in both losses and wins.
Once your fight is complete, Victory Road offers chances to recover, gain sponsorships, upgrade the gym, and so many other details. You will be expected to carefully choose your boxer’s next opponent, whether or not to take performance enhancing drugs, and many other things as randomized events are constantly offered that may help or harm your goals.
Victory Road without a doubt is an amazingly deep and stylistic strategy sim that is rare for sports management sims. The genre is typically a bit boring and stat heavy but Victory Road has managed to turn that on its head. Everything from the art style to the sound design fits perfectly with the bite sized replayability that Victory Road offers.
Victory Road is an indie gem that is a must have for sports strategy sim fans. You can find additional information about the game here!
Victory Road Review
Victory Road mixes an exciting 8-bit visual style with deep customization to provide a ton of strategy options for boxing sim aficionados!
Exciting SFX, fighting game style, and graphics keep the game interesting
There's lots of depth to the strategy and customization of the boxer's style
In-match action is easy to understand
Buildup to a match is a little boring and repetitive after a while