by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Let’s get ready to rumble
Boxing has been in video game form since the days of the Atari 2600 and games such as Punch Out have become classics over the years. Boxing Champs seems to draw inspiration from the vintage era of boxing games with a primarily top-down view and cartoonish visuals that give the game a fun atmosphere reminiscent of those older classics.
Boxing Champs only has the two modes — single-player and two-player, although single-player is split into a career mode or a single fight mode. Sitting with a friend on the couch (or in front of the PC screen) and swinging at each other is a heap of fun, but the meat of the game is in the single player career mode. This mode has you creating a boxer and then working your way through the ranks to eventually become (in my best Michael Buffer announcer’s voice) ‘the undisputed champion of the world’.
After creating your pugilist’s look, players then allocate points to the six traits that make up your fighter’s repertoire. Power, speed, stamina, chin (amount of punishment your fighter can take), footwork and toughness are all aspects that your fighter needs to manage and work on if he is to progress up the rankings. Upon allocating the points, your fighter then gets a chance to put his skills to use in the ring. Fights take place in a top-down view, with the aim of knocking an opponent out, or scoring a points victory over three rounds.
Earning a shot at the title
Early opponents have next to no skill at all and can be knocked out with a flurry of blows before they can even land a punch. But as you progress, the fighters become tougher. Each of the fighters have particular strengths that you must overcome. Some move around the ring quickly, some punch harder, some can take more damage whilst others are more adept at hauling themselves off the canvas if you manage to floor them. Working out a strategy for each of them is part of the fun.
The controls are extremely simple. Boxers have a total of five punches that they have in their arsenal — a left jab, right jab, left hook, right hook and the uppercut. The jabs have a longer reach than the hooks, but don’t have as much power behind them, whilst the uppercut is a powerful punch, but is a bit slower to perform, leaving you open to attack. As well as the punches, your fighter can also block. Against early opponents, this is rarely necessary, but as you move up through the ranks and fight opponents with faster and harder punches, defending becomes a necessity. As well as this, each fighter has a limited stamina, so throwing a flurry of punches will leave him tired and somewhat unresponsive to throwing more.
Boxing Champs has three control schemes available for use – using the traditional ABXY buttons as punches, dual thumb-stick mode, or using keyboard controls. Each works rather well, although I personally found the traditional ABXY controls suited my style. The other control schemes will no doubt suit other players, and if you only have one controller, the keyboard controls will be necessary for a two-player match-up.
The arcade style of Boxing Champs is further enhanced by the cartoon style characters. They have oversized heads and oversized boxing gloves. And if you choose your boxer to have red gloves, he looks like he has crab pincers when he's swinging a hook. It is somewhat comical but gives the game the less serious tone that the developers seem to be aiming for. The health and stamina bars are typical for fight games, allowing gamers to easily determine the condition of their boxer. Sound effects are pretty standard too, with the sounds of the padded gloves hitting their target and the cheers and groans from the crowd as someone gets hit and drops to the floor. The referee then pops up for the ten-count as you or your opponent struggle to get up off the canvas.
Hitting the spot
The simple and varied controls make Boxing Champs a game that anyone can pick up and play with ease. Yes, fighting higher ranked opponents certainly takes some level of strategy, but for the most part, the developers have made it a fun arcade-style game rather than a realistic boxing simulation. In career mode, gaining the number one ranking and then earning a shot at the World Title is a little too easy, but this makes Boxing Champs a game in which younger players can feel a sense of achievement. Playing against a friend is certainly a tougher challenge but can be a heap of fun. If you’re looking for a boxing game that is simple to play and reminiscent of classic arcade style boxing games, then Boxing Champs is worth a look.
Simple controls, fun gameplay
Career mode could be more challenging