Review by antseezee

Reviewed: 07/29/03 | Updated: 07/29/03

Certainly one of the more redeeming arcade styled boxing games out there.

Boxing games have always been questionable games when developed for video game systems. Aside from the original Punch Out series for the Nintendo, many games have failed to capture any aspect of fun in even the smallest ways. Many problems such as lack of control, and lackluster gaming experiences all contribute to the share of flaws in boxing games. Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2 is an upgrade of the original version, but still barely comes close to capture the essence that most classic boxing games did. The entire storyline behind R2R Boxing: Round 2 is based on which character you select. Each character has their own history as to how they made it to the ring, so each storyline can differ. But for the most part, this is an arcade style boxing game which probably relates more to an unrealistic situation, than actual simulated boxing.

Graphics [7/10]
Even though the game was originally designed for the Dreamcast, the N64 version pulls off quite well when compared to its predecessor. The entire game is played from a 3D perspective, with boxers, the referee, and stadium all in its own virtual environment. Character models are extremely detailed and quite flashy. Some characters have weird styles of hair (such as Afro Thunder), while others have ''appealing'' features (LuLu Valentine). After so many rounds in a fight, their face textures will start to become more bruised, and this shows some key detailing that Midway decided to do. Unfortunately, the actual backgrounds in the game are kind of depressing. One fight took place in a club, and I could only see four people in the background. Fans almost seem to be absent in the background, and really takes a bite out of the ring environment. Animations are quite fluent, and really have no skippy frames. Perhaps a boxer will shove a taunt at you, or a devastating uppercut.

Thanks to the great vector animations, you can easily tell the difference between a swift jab, or a fierce uppercut. The biggest downfall by far has to be the poor framerate during gameplay. Some of the blurriest and worst slowdowns will be seen inside of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2. With so many eye pleasing graphics, it all comes at a cost of smooth gameplay. The slowdowns will actually prove to be more frustrating because combos can sometimes go haywire, and your concentration gets broken.

Sound/Music [8/10]
This is the best feature of the game in my opinion. There are practically tons of voice clips inside of this game. Each character has their own unique sounding taunt, grunt, injured, and punching sounds. Most of the voices are distinguishable from your typical Russian accent, to the Brazilian tone of a woman. Not only that, but there is also that ''Let's get ready to rumble!'' sound clip from Michael Buffer. The addition of him to introduce most of the matches was a good thing on Midway's part. As for actual in-game sound effects, they're also quite impressive with jabs making a quicker, piercing sound. Your uppercuts sound like somebody whacking a baseball bat to a rug, and most of your in-game sounds sound very realistic (ring bell, referee calls, hitting the ring floor).

Music is somewhat prevalent throughout most of the gameplay. Most of the menu songs are hip-hop rap, or music that gets any diligent trained fighter into a beat. At times though, the music can sound a bit repetitive, and can be more of a bore listening to CD-scratching songs. Thankfully, the songs aren't played during matches, unless you go into RUMBLE mode. But for the most part, the audio is crisp, clear, and just right to settle your stomach into one piece.

Gameplay [5/10]
While many of us would expect that a boxing-based game would represent the sport well, R2R Boxing: Round 2 is more of an arcade experience. Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 is basically a boxing game, but it incorporates many fantasy features like RUMBLE mode, power meters, and life bars. Rather than feeling like a true boxing game, it feels more like fighting game just equipped with boxing gloves. Regardless, there are plenty of gaming modes to satisfy just about every type of person in the game. Your basic Arcade mode is similar to that of most fighting games where you can face an opponent (CPU or human) head-to-head in a customize matchup. There are plenty of characters to choose from (13 basic ones), and four additional secret characters which are great for enhancing the entire experience. Perhaps you're looking for a big bruiser, or a faster Bruce Lee type of person. Just about any type of fighting style is included in the game. When the match starts, rounds are timed with numerous ways of defeating your opponents. You can go for the knockout, or the simple TKO in the match.

One of the more complex problems with R2R Boxing: Round 2 revolves around the control system. The joystick allows you to move your boxer, with A and B acting as your blocking buttons. However, all of the C buttons count as a different type of punch (upper area, lower chest, left, or right). The biggest problem is that learning combos, layouts, and special moves like hooks and uppercut can be a real pain. Controls are rarely memorized, and often you'll find yourself repeating moves. Controls simply lack any responsive attitude. Most of the attacks in the game have lag time between the time you press the button, and wait for the animation on screen. Now it's understandable that boxers in real life have to keep their stamina and endurance up to be able to attack opponents. But when a game simply doesn't punch when you press the button to do so, you know something is seriously flawed. Not only do lacking controls hurt the gameplay, but combine that with the slowdown in graphics, and you have yourself one messed up enchilada. Other problems include balancing in the game. Many characters are simply too flimsy and not quick enough for their stature. The reaches of other opponents proves to be a huge advantage, and collision detection is often flawed. Sometimes you'll send a shelling backfist, only to find out that it missed because the game couldn't detect the simple animation.

Aside from your arcade mode, R2R Boxing: Round 2 also has a more interesting Championship mode. What makes this mode so unique is that you start out as a nothing in the fighting circuit. You will fight for prize bouts (money as a reward), and finally a title bout each month. Your entire schedule is based on a monthly calendar. But what makes the mode really unique is that you can train your boxer using various training modes. Each boxer has stat ratings such as dexterity, strength, endurance, stamina, experience, and so on. Training in events like weightlifting, jump rope, rumble pads, and step aerobics all increase certain stats, while decreasing others. Thus, an element of strategy for building up to a fight is quite interesting. Still, many training events are very hard to get use to, especially ones that force you to remember combinations and special codes. Many require pressing of certain buttons, and the human brain simply isn't fast enough to comprehend. From an average standpoint, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 offers nothing more than a simple pat on the back for its average gameplay.

Fun [6/10]
As much as any of us would like to think that Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 is a truly exciting boxing game, it really isn't. While it does provide an above average experience, the gameplay flaws will contribute to a loss of happiness. It's not fun when you're frantically pressing your uppercut button, and instead, there's about a two second delay from the actual action occurring. However, R2R Boxing Round 2 does feature some unique elements unlike your traditional fighting game. Unlike the original R2R Boxing, there's a new feature in this year's game. Now you can initiate a special mode called RUMBLE mode. Every time you hit an opponent with a powerful blow, a letter from the word ''Rumble'' is attained. Eventually, if you spell out RUMBLE, you can press A+B at the same time to open up this special mode. Basically, you turn into a Rocky superstar, capable of throwing a fury of punches without any remorse. It's an interesting aspect of the game, but tends to take out from any strategy elements of boxing. If you are able to stack the world ''Rumble'' three times, you can initiate an even more devastating RUMBLE mode which will cause an instant knockout with one punch. It's probably one of the few concepts that really keeps it cooking on the camp fire.

Replayability [5/10]
In any form of respect, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is simply not a classic. Even the upgraded version of Round 2, while having some improved features and extra replay value, still doesn't add up to an exciting game. This year's version features plenty of new boxers, including four secret boxers which can really add spice to the game. Believe it or not, you can play as Shaquille O' Neal or even Michael Jackson! Some people who just enjoy celebrity profiles will have a field day with this game. Besides the new rumble mode, you can also play up to two players, head-to-head in a boxing match. There is also an additional tournament and team battle mode, but none of them feature actual multiple boxers in the ring. They're basically just rehashed versions of arcade matches, but with stemmed organization. Quite frankly, the biggest factor that R2R Boxing: Round 2 lacks is that of enjoyment. The game feels too much like a generic fighter, with simple boxing gloves. Sure, the championship mode is innovative by being able to raise your stats through tedious training courses, but most people will not find it interesting. The game appeal just isn't there in terms of coming back to continually play the game.

Difficulty [5/10]
Another lacking factor of R2R Boxing is the difficulty. While there are many fierce opponents to face, the computer AI has some serious flaws that need to be fixed. One of the problems with the AI is that the computer rarely blocks or counters correctly. Most of the time, you can simply send a few punches into your CPU opponent, retreat back a few steps, and lure him in for more pain. The computer tends to rarely block your punches, which completely eliminates the use for the buttons. Although your opposing boxer may slowly rush in on attack, the CPU is way too reckless in its form and stature. For most gamers, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2 turns more into a hit n' run case, rather than pure boxing action. At times, you will get owned by a stronger opponent, but most of the challenge is quite balanced. Quite frankly, the training courses to raise your stats are probably more challenging than the actual boxing matches.

Final Factor [6/10]
If we look back at many numerous boxing orientated games, only a few classics generally come to mind. Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 is surely not one of those classics. While the game's presentation is impressive to the average gamer, and it does act as a balanced fighting game, it simply lacks any realism to that of boxing. Slowdowns in graphics, somewhat laggy controls, and a lack of enjoyment prevails. Unlike Mike Tyson's Punch Out, which could be an addicting experience, R2R Boxing is more of a bash-em-up type of fighter. This could have easily mixed in as any other fighting game if you stripped the boxing gloves and snapped off the ring ropes. Even if there are some interesting game modes, and varying characters, the experience is nothing worthy of a classic. If you do happen to see this game, consider buying it only if you're willing to take a risk. It can be a strong game for the first few rounds of play, but its replay value will ware off eventually. If you're looking for an upgrade to the original Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, look elsewhere. This is practically the same version with just a few enhancements.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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