In some ways Ready 2 Rumble Boxing feels a lot like that guy who’s trying so hard to be witty and wacky at the office Christmas party that you eventually start to worry that he’s perhaps had a tad too much sherry. I mean, some of his stuff will land, but there’s always a very real risk that he might perhaps be a little too zany for his own good and miss the mark by a country mile.
Basically, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is me, and you, yes you, you know who you are! Don’t look at the bloke next to you on the train, I’m not talking to him, I’m talking to you, you cretinous oyk! That bird you like ain’t going to put out, move on, you’re embarrassing yourself! Having a brightly coloured tie doesn’t make you any more interesting than you already are, which isn’t particularly interesting now that you mention it. Relax, you’re trying too fucking hard!
Ahem, sorry about that, let’s talk about the game before I go off the deep end, eh?
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is a pretty average boxing game that compensates by having silly looking characters and parking up a truck of money outside Michael Buffer’s house to get him to do the ring introductions, who seems about as excited to be there that he not so much phoned this in as did it via an actual paper cup on the end of a piece of string.
It says it all, really, that if you complete one of the single-player modes, the development team uses the opportunity to give themselves “zany” nicknames in the credits and demand that Buffer introduce each one of them as their picture shows up. I honestly wonder if the brainstorming session for this game was literally all of them just sitting in a booth at Hard Rock Café and saying between rounds of mojitos;
“You know what would be cool?”
“If we came up with an excuse to get Michael Buffer to announce each one of us for something?”
“Oh yeah, that would be cool!”
“Let’s make a bog standard boxing game and jazz it up with some silly looking characters in the hope we’ll get away with it!”
I’m perhaps being a bit unfair in some regards, but I don’t think it’s incorrect to state that Ready 2 Rumble Boxing really does nothing new with the genre other than throw in an, admittedly somewhat impressive, collection of absolute freaks that tick pretty much every stereotype box under the sun.
We have old school British practitioner of the Queensberry Rules, the fiery Mexican, the giant sumo fighter branching into a new sport, the spunky spitfire female fighter who ain’t gonna take no gas from no man, and the skinny Harlem Globetrotter-like black dude with an afro.
The character models themselves are good, with some ranging from smoothly designed to utterly grotesque. As fights progress, your fighter will get progressively more beaten up, which was one of the game’s big selling points at the time. Aside from that aspect though, realism has been averted to instead focus on big and bold designs, which all feels like a sideshow to distract from the fact that, once the bell rings, there’s very little under the hood when it comes to this game’s fighting mechanics.
You are given four punches: low right, low left, upper right, and upper left, but mixing up combos feels anything but fluid, and most of the time fights will devolve to spamming and button bashing because it eventually becomes the only way to land a blow on the computer, which can pummel you seemingly at will. You are given options to both block and dodge, but they are the same button, meaning that you’ll often find yourself dodging when you want to block and vice versa.
Every time you land a clean strike, you will be given a letter at the bottom of the screen that will eventually spell R-U-M-B-L-E. Once this is achieved, you can press both shoulder buttons to go into “Rumble Mode”, whereby your character can perform a super combo by pressing the “A” and “B” buttons on the Dreamcast controller.
When you enter this mode, your character will do a taunt where the camera focuses on you, and you can’t move until the taunt is completed. However, your opponent can move at will during this time, which usually means they will get up close and deliver a couple of easy punches that will just destroy your health bar in an instant.
You might think that putting some distance between you and your rival will give you a chance to pull the taunt off and not lose control of the bout, especially as this could be an excellent last gambit move to pull out in a tricky situation when your health was at its lowest ebb, right? But no, the computer can seemingly always get to you at will no matter where you are in the ring, and this relegates the mode to something that will only annoy you.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is not an especially bad boxing game. I wouldn’t say it was particularly good either though, although it does have an immediately recognisable aesthetic. It’s a game created for arcade thrills over boxing realism, but it just doesn’t offer enough longevity or innovation to be any more than a mild distraction at best.
With a friend you can perhaps get a bit more mileage out of it from multiplayer, but overall I wouldn’t recommend paying over the odds for it. It’s not something essential that your Dreamcast collection can’t do without, but if you can get it cheap, it should provide some fun if you have your mates round and make the freaks fight for your amusement.
As always, (aside from last week, sorry, I forgot) I’ll post some game footage below
Thanks for reading
Until next time;
Come On You Blues!!!
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