30 Games Of April – Day 7

King of Boxer
Developed by:Jastec / Neue Design
Format played:Arcade

Yes that’s right, this game is so awesome it doesn’t even bother to make its name grammatically correct.

You know, sometimes it occurs to me just how awesome my childhood was. Not only did I grow up on the coast with 3 or 4 high quality gaming arcades to choose from, once a year the fair would also come to town. Whilst most kids were happy with a ride on the dodgems or stuffing their faces with candy floss, my buddies and I headed straight for the arcade tent.

Amongst the treasure trove of gaming delights was King of Boxer, published by the prolific Data East. It didn’t have the the cool factor of Out Run. It didn’t have the bombast of Final Fight. And It didn’t have the bulging muscles of Street Fighter II. But bloody hell it was fun.

Adopting a rather more light hearted approach to the pugilistic science, players take the role of a moustachioed Beavis-alike in their quest for the championship strap, battling luminaries such as Brown Pants, Bomba Vern and Violence Jo. Action is viewed from a 3rd person perspective, allowing traversal across the whole of the ring. That said, your movements are a little sluggish, boxing and moving at the same time proving a little too much for our pugnacious challenger, resulting in a violently staccato dance.

Still, once you do let the leather start flying, the game packs a satisfying thwack. Prowling round the ring with his hands held in a do-you-want-some-of-this stance, your man comes armed with an assortment of bruising blows. Jabs, hooks and uppercuts steam in from both sides, smashing into body and head. Hilariously every time a fighter takes a punch, his hair flies up and his eyes bulge out in surprise. Get a solid dig in and your opponent might even go for a spin whilst perfectly lined up special moves let you send him flying back to the ropes or up in the air for an early night’s work.

Within all this silliness is a terrific challenge. You can win the first few bouts by just stalking relentlessly forward and swinging punches like they’re going out of fashion. But soon enough progress will only be made by learning to block and move whilst you also begin to take account of how much leather you throw, each punch costing you a segment of energy.

Like Kangaroo or Kid Gloves, once the menu music hits it is instantly remembered, transporting you back to that arcade (or fair) where you first commenced battle. Punches land with a nice crunch too, but I’m not quite sure what noise the fighters are supposed to be making as they trot around the ring. And finally a word for the ref who jumps in to make the count, looking like former WWE ref Earl Hebner with added ‘tache.

Fact Fans – the game was known as Ring King in the US and Family Boxing in Japan

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