I think there’s no nation out there that can make fun of themselves quite like South Africa. We know that we live in a country full of corrupt politicians, crumbling infrastructure and a frequently collapsing economy, but we always take it in stride and see the funny between all the misery. Besides that, we have a whole cavalcade of wacky characters with their own mannerisms born out of the extremely diverse culture we have. It’s enough to make you proud of this country even if our camaraderie is mostly born out of communal negativity.
Boet Fighter is a celebration of everything South African. It’s no surprise that the game went viral on Facebook from its hilarious trailer because every single joke that was made can be seen as an inside joke. We have seen almost zero representation of our country within gaming and Boet Fighter is a game that hinges its entire identity on the South African experience through a journey of copious amounts of klapping.
You play as Hard Eddy who is on the world’s oldest journey. He needs to rescue his binnet (girl, for those not fluent in boet) and to do that he has to go through the deep, dark depths of Joburg with various okes in the way that he and his friend Mod-C have to klap into oblivion. You may be excused to think that the fact that you need to go rescue a woman is a huge gaming cliche, but here’s the thing. The game knows full well that it’s a cliche and it plays it up for laughs which is exactly what the rest of Boet Fighter aims to do as well.
It uses South Africa’s various intricacies and the stereotype of meathead boets as one giant ironic joke. It’s the unshakeable mission statement of the game and they follow it through right to the end. It’s where the game shines the brightest as you’ll be laughing your gat af when you have to bliksem okes in peak Joburg traffic, bribe a hilariously Afrikaans cop or make friends with an actual shark at a rugby stadium who also sounds like a coloured (which is exclusively something that only South Africans can say otherwise we might get moered ourselves).
As you’re busy klapping okes, you will frequently hear hilarious voice lines coming from Eddy and the various enemies that you need to fight. It’s mostly dumb stuff or lame jokes, but it’s our dumb stuff and lame jokes. It never gets old to hear an enemy say eish or ag no man when you hit them in the face because that’s not something you will ever hear in other games. If a soutie or someone who is not South African plays this game, they will be scratching their heads in bewilderment and not have a cooking clue what is going on. Therein lies the true beauty of Boet Fighter. It’s proudly South African while also mocking it relentlessly.
The cutscenes will have you rolling on the floor sometimes from the quick and witty quips that the characters make and all the various South African-isms being thrown all over the place. I initially thought that all this ironic joking would get cringy very quickly, but the opposite is true. The further in you go, the more hilarious it becomes. It’s just such a jol to experience and if you’re playing this with your bras while you’re having a braai, I’m absolutely sure there will be many belly laughs along the way.
Such a kief style, charna
The art style and animation of the game are absolutely stellar with these huge exaggerated characters that just scream their personalities and absolutely gorgeous environments that feature references to South Africa that you will constantly point out and laugh at. The animations are a visual treat and I’m massively impressed by the work that the small team at Cali4way Games managed to do. It established a beautiful identity for itself and it kept it consistent throughout.
The music is extremely exaggerated to play into the game’s humour, but I’ve found that there are some big problems with the sound mixing. The dialogue is oddly quiet during cutscenes and the music drowns things out so much that I had to do my own mixing in the options menu to get things to a bearable level. Some voice work also sounds like it was done on a gaming headset, but the performance from Gord Laws as Hard Eddy and Tshireletso Mo Mothebe as Mod-C remained stellar throughout and their delivery was so on point that it hurt sometimes.
Sadly, not everything is kief in Boet Fighter. The game draws huge inspiration from other 2D side-scrolling brawlers such as Golden Axe and Double Dragon, but the systems and implementations are severely lacking in variety. You get your standard punch, or klap, a kick, a jump function, a block, a sprinting attack and a special move that you can use to clear up enemies and that’s the full extent of the game’s gameplay. You won’t get new mechanics, special combos or even weapons that you can use to spice things up and the moves you get from the start of the game remains the same right until the end.
This makes for an extremely repetitive gameplay experience as various okes come on your screen that you have to moer to move on to the next section and this doesn’t change at all throughout the game. Within the first 10 minutes I have already mastered everything the game had to offer and it just turned into a tired slugfest where you just need to fend off a horde of steroid-infused boytjies. If it wasn’t for the humour and the brilliant environments carrying everything, it would have been a hugely repetitive journey.
Boet Fighter is a gorgeously designed love letter with an included klap to the warts and all beauty of our eccentric and bizarre country.
The boss fights are awesome, but mainly for the designs. Each has a South African theme to them such as a mutant turtle who looks like Jacob Zuma which is guaranteed to make you laugh, but you still have to fight using the same tired gameplay. The boss patterns aren’t difficult at all so it just ends up being you wailing on them for a few minutes until they die.
The gameplay is most definitely the weakest part of the package and so much could have been done to add some variety and flavour to the fighting and since you do a lot of klapping, a big chunk of the game will, unfortunately, be mired in repetition.
Goeie werk, boys
Just like South Africa, I had a love-hate relationship with Boet Fighter. It’s a gorgeously designed love letter with an included klap to the warts and all beauty of our eccentric and bizarre country. A proudly South African game that doesn’t shy away from our rocky heritages and stereotypes but instead embraces them with creatine filled arms. It’s a shame the gameplay didn’t gel so well with the quality of the rest of the game, but massive props need to be given to the team over at Cali4way Games for creating something that South Africans can be proud of to call our own. Lekke, boet.