Boxing has given us some truly memorable moments over the years. The much loved sport is one of the most exciting to watch, that is of course if you happened to miss the bore-fest between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. A sport like boxing is very lucky, not only does it make for compelling viewing in the real world, it is also superb when moved across into the virtual realm. The sport has been a near-constant presence in the gaming world since the 1980s, although in recent years the game has been neglected due to EA Sports opting to prioritise their UFC game. This was a move that left a sour taste in the mouths of many.
Due to the popularity of boxing and boxing games it can come as no surprise that the public have been inundated with boxing games over the years. For the most part, these games are usually knockout victors, but there are some that should just stay on the canvas. Below are some of the best and worst boxing games to have ever made it to market.
James “Buster” Douglas Knockout Boxing
Release Date: 1988/1990
Platform(s): Sega Genesis
Final Blow was a game released by Sega in 1988 that was available on all of the ported platforms. However, in 1990 the game was renamed James “Buster” Douglas Knockout Boxing and released on the Sega Genesis.
At the time of the game’s release, Buster Douglas was riding a wave. Earlier in the year (February, 1990) the American stunned the world, knocking out the unbeaten Mike Tyson in the tenth round – Douglas was priced at 42-1 in the boxing betting. Unfortunately for the slugger, he was defeated by Evander Holyfield in his very first title defence. He was lucky to cash in with Sega when he did.
The side scrolling boxing game was your typical rock ‘em and sock ‘em style game. If you managed to time your strikes correctly, you could unleash a knockout punch on your opponent. You could even enjoy the spectator mode if you wanted to.
Sega were genius in the marketing of the game. Douglas featured in their “Genesis does what Ninten don’t” – the game was considered by many as a response to Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! The game also took a thinly veiled swipe at Tyson with the in-game character of Ironhead, an obvious reference to “Iron” Mike Tyson.
Wii Sports Boxing
Release Date: 2006
Platform: Nintendo Wii
The Nintendo Wii really did change the way we game. Had it not been for the success of this gaming upstart, would Microsoft and Sony develop Kinect and Move respectively? Probably, but were it not for the Wii then it would have surely taken far longer. You couldn’t help but be impressed by the Wii. At one time it was the must-have console, as proven by the fact that Nintendo has sold more than 100 million units.
Granted the graphics were not worth shaking a stick at, it was 8-bit gaming brought into the 3D world, but the gameplay was innovative and highly enjoyable. Despite its childish nature, it is hard not to enjoy seeing the punches that you are throwing in the living room land on the opposition chin in the virtual world. By nature boxing games are hugely competitive. On the Wii they were even more so. Although you would hopefully never knockout your best friend in the real world, you can’t help but enjoy putting them flat on their back whilst playing on the Wii. And to put the cherry on the cake, all the while you are playing you can pretend to your concerned parents that you are simply working out.
Fight Night: Champion
Release Date: 2011
Platform(s): PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
Publisher: EA Sports
Fight Night: Champion may draw the ire of some boxing fans who thought that the fighting mechanisms were not as realistic as EA Sports had promoted, however, these folk were certainly in the minority. As of writing, there is yet to be a boxing game that has bettered the quality of graphics and gameplay possessed by Fight Night: Champion.
Many who played the game were left hugely impressed by the “Full-Spectrum Punch Control” that allowed gamers to throw punches by simply flicking the right analogue stick. You could still throw punches by pressing buttons as well. The addition of “Full-Spectrum Punch Control” eliminated the complicated controller manipulations (calculated button mashing) that were essential for the “Total Punch Control” system of previous Fight Night instalments. Moreover, secondary controller buttons (triggers) allowed for uncommon and power punches. The blocking and leaning system was also modified.
What left many amazed was the depth of the Champion mode, something that most sport games neglect. Storytelling is more often amiss within sporting games which made the Champion mode all the more refreshing. The story sees you play the part of Andre Bishop, a boxer who is currently serving time in a correctional facility for a crime he did not commit. After serving his time inside, in which he has numerous unlicensed boxing clashes, he goes to work for his brother, Raymond, another heavyweight boxer. It doesn’t take Andre too long to get back his licence and return to the professional arena, where he makes a very good account for himself with some convincing wins.
All this leads to Raymond challenging his brother in a fight to be named the number one contender. This is a fight that Andre intentionally loses. Raymond goes on to fight the nefarious Isaac Frost, who knocks him out cold with a devastating punch, prompting Andre to challenge Frost to a title match. Andre goes on to claim retribution, beating Frost for the World Heavyweight title and also witnessing DL McQueen, the man who framed him, investigated and eventually jailed. As you can picture from reading this, it is a story mode full of character and one that keeps you glued from start to finish.
With a roster that included Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao, and Roberto Duran, to name just a few, there were plenty of competitors for you to chance your arm with.
Online play was also at the forefront of the game. It was awesome.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Release Date: 1987
Platform(s): Nintendo (NES)
If you were to ask anyone of a certain age – anyone old enough to have owned a NES – what the best boxing game of all time is they would reply in a matter seconds, telling you and anyone else who cares to listen that it is Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out via unanimous decision.
The arcade game Punch-Out had been around since 1984 but Tyson didn’t get involved until 1986. Minoru Arakawa, the founder and former president of Nintendo of America, was in attendance of an early Tyson bout. After watching what was a routine demolition job by Tyson, Arakawa was adamant that he needed to get the ferocious young American on board for the upcoming port version of Punch-Out!!, believing that Tyson’s inclusion in the game would help the game sell. Although it remains very hush-hush, it is widely reported that Tyson was paid $50,000 for a three-year period for his likeness. It is one hell of a deal for Nintendo, a little later on in the year Tyson went on to win the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship from Trevor Berbick, which would have subsequently seen him command a much higher fee.
Playing as Little Mac, a fighter who was grossly undersized in this world of heavyweights, your challenge was to rise to the very top of the sport and topple Tyson to claim the world title. Infuriating would be an apt word to describe this game. Losing a fight, something you end up doing more often than not, sees you fall down the rungs of the ladder, whilst losing to Tyson, the match you have been building up to for ages, signals instant game over.
This was a time when Tyson ruled the world, there were still a few years before he lost to Douglas. It was after that that his career started to seriously decline. First it was his imprisonment, then it was the Evander Holyfield ear bite, and then at the end you had embarrassing losses to journeymen like Danny Williams.
There is no other boxing game quite as beloved as Punch-Out!!, and it is testament to the game’s overall quality that it frequently ranked in the top-10 best NES games ever.
George Foreman’s KO Boxing
Release Date: 1992
Platform(s): SNES, NES, Game Boy, Sega Mega Drive
George Foreman was a hellacious boxer. His victory over Michael Moorer in 1994 made him the oldest heavyweight champion of all time at the tender age of 45. Despite his boxing prowess, Foreman has actually made more money from his grilling range, a cool $200 million, than he did from boxing. Foreman won’t mind being remembered for the grill over boxing, at least that way he can distance himself from the diabolical boxing game named after him.
If you have ever had the misfortune of playing KO Boxing, we are truly sorry. The game, which can be classed as a cheap Punch-Out!! imitator, was a horror. The gameplay was stoic and unresponsive, while the graphics were uninspiring to say the least.
Mike Tyson Boxing
Release Date: 2000
Although Tyson was involved in the best loved boxing game of all time, he was also involved with one absolute stinker. Mike Tyson Boxing ties in perfectly with “Iron” Mike’s boxing career post-millennium. It was terrible.
The graphics were shambolic. It looked like a game that should be played on the SNES and not the PlayStation. But you can learn to live with shoddy graphics. Downright awful gameplay, though, is simply unforgivable. Boxing is all about speed, with counter punching being imperative. The 1987 game that featured Tyson vested itself heavily in developing a counter punching style, which added to both its realism and enjoyment levels. However, in Mike Tyson Boxing speed does not exist. If you are to throw a punch you have to wind your arm back as if it were a sling shot. This is an arduous affair that takes at least a second, which in the boxing world would see you put on your back. As a consequence, effective jabbing and counter punching were all but missing in this game.
The Ys series of action-RPG games have been around for a very long time, as long as the venerable Final Fantasy series; both series actually debuted in 1987 for the NEC PC-8801 and the NES respectively. While the Final Fantasy games tend to be stand alone stories with different settings/characters, the Ys series revolves around the main character, Adol Christin, a young adventurer who visits various regions set in the island of Ys throughout the games.
Originally released in 2009 for the PSP, Ys Chronicles II is set for an iOS & Android debut in a version of the game that is especially adapted for touch gameplay, thanks to the folks at DotEmu. In Ys Chronicles II (also known as Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter), players take on the role as the adventurous Adol Christin, who, after collecting the sacred books in Ys Chronicles I, must continue his quest to unravel the true secrets of the island of Ys.
As Adol, players get to show off their swordsmanship, discover new weapons, and for the first time use magic to free Esteria from evil in the second chapter of this renowned series. As the second largest eastern RPG series after Final Fantasy, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of fans who are excited over this upcoming release, so stay tuned to Nineoverten.com for more details.
Did you know that the creator of the original X-Com game, Julian Gollop is back at developing his own games? If you played the the recent Firaxis-remake of X-Com: Enemy Unknown (which is one of my favourite games for the longest time), you’ll find the Gollop Chamber named after him. With names like X-com and Laser Squad (the usual suspect to appear in issues of Retro Gamer) under his belt, he now returns to one of his most beloved games, Chaos: The Battle of Wizards, with Chaos Reborn.
Chaos Reborn is a fast paced turn based strategy game with RPG elements. Players command a wizard equipped with a plethora of spells, explore and conquer realms, collect items, join guilds and even become a GOD. If you love turn based strategy games and quick thinking with a dose of luck tossed in, Chaos Reborn is your new home.
The Early Access version of Chaos Reborn is already extremely playable with fully functioning multiplayer (up to 4 players) and lots of goodies to help test and refine the single player content. The game is available for Mac, Windows and Linux and will be unlocked on December 9th. Check it out over here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/319050/
Welcome to Kickstarter Tuesday, where we highlight the Kickstarter campaigns, mainly those related to indie video games, that you probably should contribute some moolah on. This week, we would like to call you attention to three games, the first being a remake of a hit Sega Genesis title, the second being somewhat of an arthouse inspired title, and last but not least, a sim-game that takes place underwater.
Mutant Football League
Michael Mendheim, the original creator and lead designer of Mutant League, along with an all-star team of talent which includes Simon Bisley (Eisner Award winning artist), Dave Devries (creator of The Monster Engine), Dave Elliot (Comic book writing legend), Jay Lender (writer/director for SpongeBob Squarepants), andMicah Wright (writer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Zombies), have set about a Kickstarter Campaign to breathe new life into one of the video game industry’s most beloved, and downright brutal, sports-hybrid genres.
The original Mutant League video game was released in 1993 for the Sega Genesis. The combination of monsters, mayhem, and good ol’ American team sports turned the game into a cult classic. The new remake is titled Mutant Football League and promises to be a great-playing action football game with deep strategy, bone-crunching hits, over-the-top gore, a graveyard full of tongue-through-cheek humor, and a mind-blowing roster of original customizable characters, environments, and gameplay features and options. Check out the campaign over here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mendheim/mutant-football-league
Taxi Journey is an original puzzle/adventure game in a universe that combines charm, humor and mystery. It takes inspiration from games such as Limbo or Machinarium but comes up with a very unique universe and original gameplay features. The art work featured in this side-scroller is inspired by the works of Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki and it looks really exquisite; I can’t wait to see all of that in-game.
The game is being developed by the folks from Lexis Numérique, one of Europe’s leading independent video game studios. They are seeking funding amounting to USD 130,000, which will cover the development of the game from smartphone to tablets, right up to XBLA and PSN. Check out the campaign over here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lexisgames/taxi-journey-an-epic-odyssey
Now, this upcoming title from Eleventh Level Interactive aims to be an underwater city builder with players building up their underwater metropolises filled with deep sea creatures from the bottom of the ocean. That’s a pretty refreshing change of pace when it comes to sim-games. Players can completely customize their cities including the layout of streets and buildings, influence politics and lifestyles of their Metropolites, prepare and lead the defense of their cities against undersea disasters.
What’s that word most often used to describe games from a bygone era? Charm. That’s right. You find in most often used in describing retro games, and the phrase old-school charm is pretty much par of the course when you read about remakes in this modern era. So does Konami‘s latest iOS title, a remake of the classic NES game Contra, have that so-called old school charm?
The game, titled Contra: Evolution, replaces the old-pixelated graphics with 21st century 2D-pop. Viewing the game on a Retina iPad illicit a single response: It’s simply gorgeous. The fluid 2D is well matched with virtual controls, the virtual analog pad on the left is a pleasant thing to use; it wasn’t obstructive (in fact, movable), and the same can be said for the two button on the right. Other modern touches include using gold earned from playing the game to purchase continues, unlockable power-ups and characters that can be used in either the Arcade or Mission modes.
So with all these changes does the old-school charm survive the transition? The answer is a resounding yes. The game’s classic run and gun style, along with the difficulty, the two things that gamers kept coming back for more both have been left intact. New gamers who are out for a challenge will definitely love this, while the old school ones will welcome back an old friend.
Just in case some of you folks missed out on the news this weekend (that includes me, getting over the depressing fact that Sunday’s marathon was postponed due to the haze), the classic NEOGEO game Samurai Showdown II has made its way to both iOS and Android platforms! I kid you not, the game maybe a little expensive at 9 bucks, but it looks to be worth the price tag being a perfect port and all that.
The game features a 6 button layout and a SP button to allow players to easily pull off strong slashes and special moves, and those controls can be customized by players in terms of size and placement. The game also features a Bluetooth Multiplayer Mode. Check out the press release below for details:
SNK PLAYMORE USA CORPORATION (Corporate HQ: Suita-city, Osaka, Japan, Company President & CEO: Masao Ohata) is proud to announce the worldwide release of SAMURAI SHODOWN II for iOS and Android devices.
The SAMURAI SHODOWN series established the weapon-based fighting game genre, and gained an international reputation with its appealing “one-hit destructive blow” system and its charismatic characters such as samurais and ninjas. Furthermore, SAMURAI SHODOWN II, the most acclaimed title by the fans of the series, is finally available for iPhone and Android! This perfect port of the original NEOGEO game includes unique features for an even better game experience.
Click on the following links to get the game on the iOS App Store and Google Play respectively:
It’s about time that the NES classic and series forebearer, Contra, received the iOS treatment. Based on the original Contra, CocoaChina’s Contra Evolution for iOS devices was released in China earlier this year, and they have been working hard to optimize and polish the game for the U.S market. The game is now ready to deliver the goods and is now available on the iOS App Store with the iPhone version selling for USD 0.99 and the iPad version going for USD 2.99. Check out the press release below:
International mobile game developer CocoaChina/Chukong, in partnership with legendary digital entertainment company Konami, today announced the release of Contra: Evolution for iOS. All of the bad guy-blasting, platform-jumping fun of the original 1988 Nintendo Entertainment System version of Contra is now available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for veteran fans and players new to the franchise to enjoy.
Following the game’s release in China earlier this year, Konami and CocoaChina have worked together to polish and optimize Contra: Evolution for the U.S. market. The game can be downloaded here for $0.99. A high-definition version for iPad can be downloaded here for $2.99.
Keeping with the legacy of the original Contra game, Contra: Evolution takes players through the jungles of South America to stop an alien conspiracy for world domination. Play as one of four characters, all with their own unique strengths, as you take on wave after wave of gun-toting terrorists and save the world.
Contra: Evolution combines all of the best parts of the original Contra game that players remember with mechanics designed for a modern audience, from level design that captures Contra’s famed difficulty to reimagined graphics inspired by the classic 8-bit art. Whether you’re a lifetime Contra fan or taking on the world for the first time, you’ll have a hard time putting Contra: Evolution down!
Funny where I end reviewing games sometimes. I was out the other day with my wife and mother-in-law, both of them were shopping at a very busy street for curtains. Due to the lack of parking spots, I opted to wait in the car (with the engine off) at a back lane, and pick them up when they were done. It was during this time I completed my review of Boulder Dash-XL for the iPhone.
I would classify Boulder Dash-XL as a modern day remake of a classic 2D action-puzzle game. You take control of one of two rather cute mining robots, and each level is a cave where you’ll need to mine a certain number of diamonds before the exit opens up. Video games are rarely straightforward and the same goes for Boulder Dash-XL; there’s a clock to beat.
And like mining in real life, which is fraught with dangers (collapsing mines, gas leaks, explosions, etc), Boulder Dash-XL mines have their fair shares of dangers as well. Digging your way through the caves, you may end up triggering falling boulders, and this may be a good or bad thing since you may not be alone in a level. Players can use these to destroy monsters that they encounter, or to open up paths to diamonds…just remember to quickly step aside when stuff starts falling down.
Those folks passing by at the back lane the other day would have heard me saying “Crap, crap, crap” the first few times my robot got crushed by boulders (the hint to avoid this from happening is already in the game’s title: “Boulder Dash”.. so much for not paying attention) since I had the window down. There’s also the option of blowing monsters up with dynamite, or simply run (again, the dash part).
For me, Boulder Dash-XL represents plenty of awesome value with its over 100 levels, and is pretty much geared for casual gameplay, with levels easily done in a minute or more. The gameplay represents a nice, fun challenge to players, partially due to the level design as well, and there are 5 game modes to choose from. The game’s graphics, which according to the devs are similar to the Xbox 360 and PC versions of this remake, which further adds to the arguement on why do I need a console anymore (and this is why my brother gets to keep the PS3..which I have 3/4 ownership of).
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has just launched a new free-to-play iOS app, Midway Arcade Free, which is a compilation of classic retro Midway titles, for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Players will be able to re-connect and re-master their favorite arcade games on the go with this ultimate collection. Midway Arcade Free comes equipped with Joust, plus four skill-based mini-games, Pool, Air Hockey, Roll Ball and Basketball, all for free.
Players also have the option to purchase additional Midway classics through In-App Purchase. The extra fun will be available through four distinct Game Packs which are as follows:
Guns & Glory Pack: A.P.B., NARC, Total Carnage
Fantasy & Magic Pack: Gauntlet I, Gauntlet II, Wizard of Wor
Players can compete against their friends, earn achievements and dominate online leaderboards. For an authentic retro experience, Midway ArcadeFree is compatible with iCade, the retro arcade-style cabinet for iPad. The miniature wooden cabinet is perfectly sized for iPad, and connects via Bluetooth to a full-sized joystick and buttons for a genuine arcade experience.
The Midway Arcade App is available for free from the App Store on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch or at www.itunes.com/appstore. The Game Packs are available for $0.99 each through In-App Purchase.
Remember when we first mentioned about the London Games Festival Art Exhibition? Guess what, the entire collection from the exhibition will be auctioned off for the benefit of SpecialEffect. SpecialEffect is a unique charity doing whatever it takes to help everyone with disabilities to have a better quality of life through games, art and technology.
The exhibition – which was the centrepiece of the month-long London Games Festival 2012 funded by Ukie – saw over 100 pieces of art displayed at London’s City Hall, in an event supported by the Mayor of London.
Rare and never-before-seen pieces from games such as Batman: Arkham City from London-based developer Rocksteady Studios were hung proudly beside pieces from legendary artists such as Yuji Uekawa and Yoji Shinkawa in an exhibition which celebrated the culture of videogames and London’s contribution to it.
The collection will be made available to bid on in four batches, with the first going online now, with a further three batches featuring art from the exhibition being added to the auction every Monday until the 3rd of December. Included in the initial batch are three signed pieces from Batman: Arkham City, two Fable 3 pieces signed by Peter Molyneux and the artists, a signed Metal Gear Solid ‘Raiden’ canvass, plus pieces from Tomb Raider, Dishonored, Moshi Monsters and Runescape, among many others.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed with the number of people that came to the exhibition,” says Kirsty Payne, festival director, London Games Festival. “People from all walks of life – those who played games, and those who didn’t – travelled far and wide to appreciate the phenomenal pieces of art which have been kindly donated by the industry.
“We were also immensely gratified by how everyone reacted when we showed them the work that SpecialEffect does – and we’re incredibly excited about the potential this auction has. Amazing, one-of-a-kind pieces, with all proceeds going to this amazing charity. Not only is it going to be a good Christmas for the winning bidders, but for those who benefit from SpecialEffect’s brilliant work too.” (see more about SpecialEffect here http://www.specialeffect.org.uk )
The London Games Art auction is taking place for the next four weeks from today at www.londongamesart.com, with additional pieces of art from the exhibition being added every Monday until the 3rd of December.