If you’re still on Facebook and getting your data mined by Mark Zuckerberg to sell on to politicians, chances are you’ve seen the trailer video for Cali4ways Games’ Boet Fighter doing the rounds. It’s unmissable, really, as it perfectly encapsulates the South African “boet” culture and all its ridiculousness.
At first, most people presumed it was a well-made parody video and nothing else would come from it, but the 2D beat ’em up showed up at Comic Con Africa and released on Steam in early October. So, does the final product merit the hype? Well, if I gave you the answer now, you probably wouldn’t read the rest of the review, so as you were.
Much like the game’s protagonist, the storyline is basic. Meathead likes girl. Girl disappears with a mysterious stranger. Meathead goes on a quest to find her and beats up other meatheads along the way. (I’m surprised that Benoni hasn’t sued Cali4ways Games for plagiarising its origin story yet.)
I’m surprised that Benoni hasn’t sued Cali4ways Games for plagiarising its origin story yet.
The simplicity, though, is in Boet Fighter‘s favour, as it allows Hard Eddy’s adventure to take place in the most hilarious locations, such as a Fourways traffic jam, gym, nightclubs, a rugby stadium and even inside an MMA cage. It’s so distinctively South African in every way and relatable. Watch as the taxis drive up and down the pavements and threaten everyone’s safety, while the “zomboets” (zombified boets) remind you of the worst parts of Oppikoppi.
Undoubtedly, the outlandishness is complemented by the over-the-top graphics, which has lead artist Louis du Pisani’s aesthetic all over it. If you recall MK Ondergrond and his other efforts on band flyers and t-shirts, you’ll instantly recognise du Pisani’s Sam Kieth-meets-Beano style. It’s cartoonish but with enough detail to be considered caricature.
Of course, none of this means a thing if the gameplay sucks. From a difficulty perspective, Boet Fighter isn’t easy. The waves of enemies come at you, thick and fast, while the boss fights are no walks in the park. If you find power-ups, get them, because there’s a glitch where some of them drop in places that you can’t reach. Also, the checkpoints aren’t as readily available as you’d like, so to paraphrase Ivan Drago: if you die, you die.
Boet Fighter isn’t easy…
In terms of controls, there isn’t much to learn here. Kick, punch, jump, block, run and special move—that’s it. This might disappoint a few gamers who might want a little more variation or the ability to perform a Lonehill Lights-Out Left Kick or the Pretoria Norf PK, but it is what it is. It’s very much Double Dragon gameplay but with bigger—and funnier—douches on both sides.
All things considered, Boet Fighter‘s greatest strength lies in its voiceover work. Gordon Laws as Hard Eddy and Mo Mothebe as Mod-C are absolutely sensational. The quips arrive at the right moments and there are enough “boet”-isms to keep the gamers in stitches. In fact, there were times when I had to pause the game and compose myself after a fit of laughter, so kudos to the voice artists and writing team. What you saw in the trailer is exactly what you get here.
It’s a celebration of all the things—warts and all—that makes South Africa so unique from anywhere else in the world.
Boet Fighter isn’t about to revolutionise the gaming industry, but that was never the point, to begin with. It’s a celebration of all the things—warts and all—that makes South Africa so unique from anywhere else in the world. It’s marinated in local humour, sprinkled with endless tropes, and best enjoyed over a couple of Castle Lights. And that’s okay. It’s about time that we have something that we can call our own, even if the rest of the world doesn’t get it.
Boet Fighter is a celebration of all that makes South Africa what it is, wrapped up in 2D beat 'em up.
Sergio Pereira is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a strong interest in comic books, film, music, and comedy, having been in the entertainment journalism space for over 15 years.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities in this time. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.