What the heck is Pato Box? Imagine “Punch-Out!!” with the silly charm of oddball anime like One Punch Man, but also freaking amazing! Sorry guys, I cannot hold back my love on this intelligent indie game!
You are Pato Box, a duck/human hybrid who lost a boxing match recently, almost his life as well when a mysterious figure pulls out a knife to stab him. Luckily, he’s saved and hospitalized, ready for revenge on whoever has done him wrong. Though, Mr. Pato knows it’s someone from a corrupt boxing organization named Deathflock, if his history had anything to say.
Sure enough, his beliefs were correct, and he teams up with a Deathflock nurse named Faith to hunt down all the organization’s top members and beat them up. The story is complete utter nonsense in the best way. This game is self-aware of its silly premise and has so much fun being loveably cheesy.
These organization members try hard at being threatening, but Pato Box does not give a flying crud. His reactions to the goons always is a “You know I’m going kick your butt” type of look, being the inspiring silent duck man. You even get a reason why and how he became a duck person later. Deathflock has an unhealthy obsession with ducks that you do explore.
Primarily, this game takes some cues from “Punch-Out!!” when it comes to the fighting. Pato can punch left, right, forward and duck left, right, backwards. The goal of success is to study your opponent’s moves and counter them. Pato Box takes another step forward by embracing its weirdness, with each fight having their own style and personality, fitting in with the oddball character you are brawling.
You and your opponent have three chances to fight before knockout. The closer you get to victory, the more aggressive attacks your enemy will throw. If Pato is badly beaten to a critical state, he can recover health from dodging attacks for a bit. The type of harm your foes could deal to you depends on your opponent.
What starts from a tech savvy spy continues with fighting a Nazi in the sewers, serving a delicious meal for a psychotic chef and so on. One of my favorites is a mid-game boss fight that I won’t spoil in plot, but this guy tries to kill you with awesome techno music and you must beat him through the tune. This game extends its creativity out of the matches with an adventure element.
Each location containing a boss has a lobby filled with mini games to test your reflexes on, lore to read up, tips to take note of and Pato tokens to collect for fun room decorations. Best thing about the adventure section becomes walking through a beautiful black & white comic book world, partaking in silly activities like using office chairs for a bowling mini game. There’s a slight “horror”-theme to one of the floors where you must escape a crazy mutated duck.
That is some of the brilliance behind Pato Box, it just keeps surprising you in a fascinatingly weird way. Also, everything fits right in with the setting, tense gameplay and silly story. I never felt like this game was being random for the sake of it, always pulling its absurdity off in an admirable form.
I never found the fights to be unfair or a sense of trial-and-error. No indie game I’ve played has been able to reach Cuphead level of hard and that’s okay. If anything, Pato Box is a great exercise on self-reflexes, giving you the right kind of challenge without going too far. I’ve played this whole 8-10 hour + game using a PlayStation 4 controller, so it’s hard to comment on keyboard controls.
My complaints are minor for Pato Box. There was a couple of instances where at the very beginning of a match, my opponent froze, forcing me to restart the battle. The Food Factory, not bad at all, but the least exciting hub world compared to every other location. Otherwise…I freaking love this silly genre-mixing game!
Its willingness to become knowingly ridiculous adds to a charm that’s unique to this game. I had a stupid grin across my face playing this boxing adventure game. I still want to find the secrets I may have missed or try out some rematches. If you want a creatively insane indie game that is equally as awesome to play as it is to soak in with its adorably stupid story-telling.
You will not see a game like this. Even if Nintendo decides to make a new “Punch-Out!!” game, the creative spin and added Hispanic culture (as this is coming from a studio in Mexico) are unique to this game. Pato Box is worthy of your time on the PC or the Nintendo Switch when that version gets released. To me at least, it’s a real indie gem and one of the best games to come out this year. Go play Pato Box!!