From old school NES Classics to the latest virtual brawlers, we’ll take a look at the TOP 10 Boxing Games of All-Time. Does your favorite boxing game make the list? There’s only one way to find out…
Ring King (NES) 1987
Ring King introduced many firsts for the genre of boxing video games. For starters, it was the first game where you were able to move around the ring – pretty much the largest damn boxing ring ever – along with your opponent. Another was the ability change the attributes (Power, Speed and Stamina only) of your fighter during an exhibition and during your progression in the rankings campaign.
The NES graphics weren’t as polished as the arcade version, but the style was still pretty much the same with everyone sporting a full-on 70s afro hairstyle looking like Salvador Sanchez along with a Ron Jeremy mustache. The punching mechanics were very basic with the jab, hook, uppercut and body jab. But the stronger and faster your boxer was in comparison to your opponent, the game would give you plenty of laughable moments, especially if you were one of those cheaters who used an NES Advantage controller (yeah you know who I’m talking to).
The recovery system was something interesting to behold if you were fast enough to hit the A and B buttons to revive your tired fighter…..or you could just cheat and use a turbo controller…but no one did that right?
Victorious Boxers (Playstation 2) 2000
A game based on the Japanese Anime Series Hajime no Ippo, Victorious Boxers was a story driven boxing video game starring Ippo Makunouchi as he tries to climb the rankings of the Japanese Featherweight Championships.
At the time the visual style of the game was a negative for many in the video game community (I personally did not mind it), but it was the accuracy in the boxing that was the greatest feature for this game. Not only did the game have a full story mode based on the hit anime series, but it also allowed players to step into the shoes of some of Ippo’s stablemates, unlocking certain boxers and showing how certain special punches were created (you had to fight a Bear. Like seriously a bear folks).
Besides a lot of cartoon like characters based on the anime, this game was as close to simulation as you can get. The big reason was the absence of the stamina and power bars that always made an appearance in many boxing games before it. I feel this was a significant move because it forced the user to consider not wasting punches and being cautious of gassing out. You could tell almost immediately when a boxer burned out because his punches were slow and weak and their movement around the ring reflected a fatigued fighter. The punch selection was numerous as well since the sweet science was so respected by the Japanese that the transition from anime to video game was an important part of the game overall.
A lot of the characters mimicked their comic versions (one fighter was slow but hit like a truck, another was fast and wiry and reminded me of Prince Naseem), but it was important to know the style of the fighter you selected how to use them in play. The game controls also gave the player so much more ability to bob and weave along with the ability to throw the punches, which transitioned into such a more fluid and simulated type of boxing gameplay experience. But, not only could you lean back and duck forward, you were able to shuffle to the left or right with quick feet and now able to throw punches at different angles. The analog sticks were coming more into play and giving developers more options regarding the defensive and offensive capabilities of the boxers and game in general. Victorious Boxers was a big part of the development of the core control scheme in boxing games.
Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing (Sega Genesis) 1992
Once Buster Douglas got knocked out, there was a big push to get a new face of boxing video games and Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing was by far one of the best boxing games out at the time.
One of the biggest features of the game was the training aspect that was mixed into the game when you were building your boxer up to fight for the Championship. Once you took a fight for the right amount of money you wanted if you won you could use that money to help build up attributes such as Power, Stamina, Speed and Defense.
The player was then able to select from several different choices (Sparring, Jump Rope, Diet, Speed Bag, Treadmill, Weight Lifting, Punching Bag, Head Guard) that would help increase one or sometimes several of the attributes at once. The punching system didn’t look as fluid and sometimes could be gimmicky if the right combos were thrown repeatedly thanks to the ability to duck down to the body area and back up top to throw to the head. Stamina was monitored a lot more as well as not only did you have the energy bar, but your head and body would start to go from color to gray when it was taking too much damage from blows.