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Considering that there is hardly a week goes by without some sort of boxing title contended on TV, it's amazing that there hasn't been a wider selection of these style of fighting games released for the Playstation.
Those already available are all pure arcade pulverize-em-ups and Ready 2 Rumble is yet another that slots safely into this genre. It features exhibition bouts for one or two players. Also a championship mode where your chosen fighter may be groomed and trained, guiding him through the ranks to become a champion capable of the skill, speed, stamina and special moves to make it to the top.
Are YOU ready to rumble..?
Sound and Vision:
A bevy of gorgeous singing ring babes and a combination of outrageously animated boxing characters make for a truly awesome intro. If you were hoping for a true sporting simulation then please leave the room now because this eye catching opening leaves you in absolutely no doubt that Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is pure arcade action all the way.
While viewing the opening titles and browsing through the option screen a totally addictive Ready 2 Rumble rap song plays constantly in the background. I swear that within an hour, you will be wandering around the house with "Let's Get Ready To Rumble! Woo Hoo! Woo Hoo!" firmly brainwashed into your skull.
There are up to 18 selectable boxers, of both sexes, whose appearance are as wacky as their names. Check out weird characters such as Big Willy Johnson the cross-eyed Brit with handlebar mustache and fighting style that follows the Queensbury Rules rigidly. How about Lulu Valentine who's enormous breasts look more lethal than her fists. Afro Thunder will be many gamers favorite as his style bares similarities to Tekken's Eddie Gordo. He's the black guy on the box with the weedy body and the most enormous afro hairstyle you have ever seen. Butcher Brown has a similar build and fighting style to Mighty Mike Tyson, although I don't recall him showing his teeth at any stage of the bout. There's fat guys, weird chicks, bruisers, crazies, Russian's... surely someone in there that you would enjoy beating up.
Before each bout boxing most famous host Michael Buffer does his "Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Let's Get Ready To Rumbooooooooowl" piece. He then goes on to introduce us to each boxer who does his or her little 'party piece' before "Ding! Ding! Seconds out! Round One!" The sound effects are extremely realistic, with the special punches making you almost jump if you are caught unexpectedly. All the title fights take place in a floodlit stadium, so you can actually watch the crowds grow as you climb the ladder to success. The small crowds create only a murmur in the early bouts, but this grows to a deafening roar as they pack out the top ranking fights.
The graphics are crisp, clear and extremely colorful. If you watch the boxers carefully, you will see that their bodies gradually become more bruised and even bleed, during the course of each fight.
All of this vicious action may be viewed from one of six perspectives. Rotate the camera around the fighters or revolve it around the ring. It can remain stationary at ringside or intelligently follow the action as it happens. There is also the option to view the fight from the eyes of your boxer or your opponents. If that doesn't get you ducking and diving, nothing will.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is pure hard-hitting boxing action, a style you may have experienced in the arcades. There are three difficulty settings, while most aspects of the rules may be tweaked to suit your desire such as knockdowns required for a win, length and number of rounds.
Controlling your fighter is child's play with face buttons used to action high/low left/right punches and shoulder buttons to weave and block incoming shots.
The Arcade mode is your basic single player game against a random CPU controlled opponent, or a fist-to-head match up between two human players.
At this point I would suggest switching the difficulty level onto the hardest setting because the medium challenge is far too easy and very quickly becomes boring.
Championship mode allows an entire stable of boxers to be raised up from bronze class to championship level. There are initially only three styles of fighter available but by raising a boxer to the next class another character is released. Players take on the role of boxer and manager, assuming control of managing money used to sign boxers and buying equipment for the gym. Equipment is then used to train and build up power, speed, stamina, punches and durability. Each boxer begins their career with no ranking, wins or losses. Their attributes are also zero.
To get the show on the road a certain amount of money is initially available for training purposes. What impressed me most about Ready 2 Rumble Boxing was the way in which the training method has been arranged. To use each item of equipment a sub-game must be played. Most are very similar in style to Parappa the Rappa where symbols shown on the screen must be matched with correct button presses. For example left punch, right hook, left hook, right punch. The training session is ended after three errors and your boxer's attributes are updated accordingly. There is also a nice weight-lifting session where rhythmic button tapping us used raise and drop the bars.
Players must now decide whether to take your boxer off for a prizefight for cash (side betting is allowed), or take a stab at moving up the world rankings (which will cost money to enter). The decision will probably depend on your current financial standing.
Introductions out of the way it's time to fight. As with all previous boxing games the fighters seem sluggish at first and you will probably spend most of the time on the run to avoid a good thrashing. Learn quickly that a few jabs... back off... a few jabs... back off... is the most sensible tactic. Diving in like a raging bull will only end in an early shower. As your fighter gains power, speed, stamina, and durability... so the one-minute knockouts will come.
During the fight certain combos are rewarded with a single letter from the word RUMBLE. Once the word is complete and activated the boxer's gloves begin to glow and maximum power shots are available for a limited period.
Should your boxer hit the canvas (and he will) then tapping the punch buttons gradually rises his health bar until he gains enough strength to get back on his feet. Dependant on the rules selected after three knockdowns the fight is over.
This is a 1 disk game for 1 or 2 Players. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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