Boxing games have been a part of gaming culture since the early 80’s. Like other genres, boxing games have come a long way and are far from being the 8-bit characters they started off as. So how much have boxing games changed since they first came out for the Atari 2600?
On July 1980 Boxing-the video game-came out for the Atari 2600. This game was mainly about two players punching each other. In Boxing you can use strategies, players could do close punches worth 1 point or distant punches worth 2 points, there were no knockdowns or rounds. Bouts were decided in two ways, either get to 100 points or have the most points after 2 minutes of game play.
In 1987 Real Sports Boxing introduced gamers to a more realistic boxing game. Real Sports Boxing had rounds; counted punches, and gave gamers a side view. Although there were a few improvements, they were big because they had some of the basics like, rounds that made the game more realistic.
October 1987 was the release of Punch-Out for the NES. Punch-Out had more to offer than previous boxing games-such as Real Boxing Sports. Gamers could do uppercuts, left/right jabs, or body hits. The graphics also brought realism to the game; you could see facial expressions that weren’t available in the 8-bit era.
In 1994 Super Punch-Out came out for the SNES. Super Punch-Out was able to maintain their arcade game play and bring a realistic third-person view. Even the background seemed more realistic to what a boxer sees in a real bout.
Attempts for better boxing games were made, but not even Foes of Ali or Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing were able to pull off sequels like Punch-Out. In 1998 Knockout Kings was released, Knock Out Kings offered what very few boxing games did; actual fighters we knew and loved. Knockout Kings let you compete against 32 of the most popular boxers, ranging from Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, to Oscar De La Hoya. Knockout Kings let you maneuver around the ring and move your body to avoid hits. Knockout Kings was a game made for boxing fans.
Around that time, Ready 2 Rumble was also coming out. Ready 2 Rumble didn’t have any big name boxing stars, but if had an arcade game play that was easy to enjoy. The sequel Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 let players fight as Michael Jackson or Shaq.
The Fight Night series started off in 2004 with Fight Night 2004, ever since they’ve brought the world of boxing one step closer to gaming consoles. Hay-makers, cut men, and 12 round bouts, commentary, blood, sweat, made gamers feel like they were actually in the fight-or at least watching a good PPV fight.
Today’s boxing games offer far more than what was offered in the Atari 2600. They offer better graphics, accurate rules, and known boxers. Games like Punch-Out!! (for the Wii) and Kinect Sports let us enjoy the actual dodging and swinging we see our favorite boxers do, now we can actually get a workout from boxing games!