Review by The Archon
Am I the only one who has played this game? Well it's your loss then.
Boxing Legends of the Ring is a very good boxing game, but strangely not many seem to know it even exists. When I have told people about it in the past I seem to get the same general answer – “never heard of it”. Well, I’d like to say that you all missed out on a pretty decent game indeed. The game features 8 legends of middleweight boxing; Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, “Marvelous” Marvin Haggler, James “Lights Out” Toney, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, Rocky “The Rock” Graziano, “The Raging Bull” Jake La Motta, and Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns.
You play as a created fighter, and work your way through the ranks, also including one made up punching bag of a fighter named “Kinikini” who’s there solely to let you get an easy win and get the hang of the game. The legends will be ranked in a different order every time you play, and fights get progressively harder the further into the game you get. So on one time through, maybe Sugar Ray Leonard is the toughest fighter and James Toney is easier, while in another game it could be totally reversed. If you beat the career mode, you can then take your fighter into the “Battle of the Legends” which is an 8 man elimination tournament, and in that one everyone will fight their best so it’s quite a challenge. Overall I think this is probably the most overlooked boxing game ever made, and if you can find it you should pick up a copy.
(A note, as with all games I review for “older” systems, I’m rating these against the other games of it’s era. Obviously The new age games annihilate these old ones on the graphics and sound fronts, but it’s much more fair, reasonable, and I think useful to compare these games against what they were being judged against in the first place. If I sat here and told you “It looks like garbage next to Resident Evil Zero” I don’t see how that would be a helpful review for anyone.)
I actually think the game has a great look for it’s era. The animation is a bit too stiff (especially the referee, who walks and moves like a puppet), but otherwise I really like the look of the game. I also liked how your health meter display is actually a picture of the fighter’s face, and the more you hurt them the more beat up the face looks, which was a nice difference from the standardized health bars seen in most every fighting/boxing game. Overall, the animation is a bit stiff but the fighters look very good.
Not bad, not great either. It’s good enough. After a while you’ll tie of the “oof” you are greeted with every time a punch lands, and you will be hearing it a lot. I like the music in the game, which only is heard in the menus, no in fight music in this one. No big problems, but it didn’t scream “greatness” by any means.
Play Control: 8
It’s quite good overall. The choppyness of some of the animation can make blocking just a little difficult at times but overall it’s nothing major. You have a very good variety of punches, and you can string together some good combos. I liked the way you could move around the ring, when compared to many of the boxing games before this one it was still a fairly new idea at the time. If you’re doing badly you can try and stall by running to the other end of the ring to buy yourself a few seconds, and you can also clinch to stall for time (which will draw boos from the crowd, heh). Overall the play control is quite strong.
Game Design: 9
Why are there not more boxing games like this one? It’s very well done overall, and has a few things that make this game unique. As I already mentioned, the unique health meters were a nice touch. This game also has a good system of stamina. You have an on screen stamina meter that looks like a boxing glove. The more punches you throw, the more the meter empties. If it’s empty, you can’t throw any punches, and it regains slowly if you don’t throw anything. There’s also one other in fight element I have to mention because I’ve never seen it anywhere before or since, and it’s tremendous. When your fighter is close to getting knocked down, the screen starts to flicker to darkness and back into normal vision, much like you would be seeing if you got your bell rung (trust me). It might sound terribly distracting, but it was very well done and adds a great element to this game I’ve never seen anywhere else.
You earn points between fights that you put into the three areas of stamina (how many punches can you throw without getting tired), chin (how much can you get hit without getting knocked down), and power (the higher it goes the more damage your punches do). The judges if a fight should go the distance (and unlike some games that is actually possible here, there are not a lot of first round KO’s) seem to be quite fair. The battle of the legends, once you make it that far, is a very good challenge. Overall I very much enjoy the game and thought is was very well designed. A few more options for the look of your created fighter would have been nice, but this is a SNES game after all.
By sports games standards, that’s a tremendously high number. The early fights will not be so tough, but the deeper you go into the game the longer and tougher the fights get. It is actually possible to fight a full 12 rounder in this game. The computer fighters put up a good amount of resistance once you get deep into this one, and the “Battle of the Legends” tournament is very tough to win. This is not an easy game by any means.
Overall (Straight average of the above scores): 7.8 out of 10
It’s a very strong game I felt, and I only wish more people knew about it. If you see it and you like boxing/fighting games, give it a go. I certainly enjoyed it and felt that for once a sports game put up a good fight. It may not be the most popular boxing game ever made, but it is one of the best.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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