Gamestar
1985
Sport: Action
£7.99
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes

60
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

THERE'S big money in boxing. I know 'cos I've personally beaten the hell out of such bullish boxers as John Kid Kutter, Bashin' Bill Snow and Cannonball Corby.

The boxing circuit consists of nine rising pros and ten contenders. On top of that lot is Barry McGuigan, world champion, with annual earnings of more than $13,000,000 - if you didn't know. To get to McGuigan you must move from 19th position in the rankings to number one; you will then be ready for the title fight.

First you must pick the name of your boxer.

When you've decided, the computer will be presented with a ready-made boxer who can go at the bottom of the list of professionals or contenders, depending on how strong and confident you are.

A status screen about your boxer is put up at the beginning of the game and after every fight. At the top is your boxing style and you are placed into one of eight categories such as Dancer, Slugger, Bulldog and Boxer. The mixed style seems the most ideal, especially with contenders who like to slug it out and the unpredictability of your movements can make more of your punches count.

Before each bout you must train for a specified time - the number of weeks left before the fight. There are five types of workout and you must allocate time proportionally to those exercises.

Each type of training develops an aspect of the boxer's potential. Road work will help build stamina, the light bag will build agility and the weights will increase your strength. In general you should put as many weeks onto the heavy bag, spar time and road work as possible.

To win on a knockout you will need to do some heavy punching around your opponent's head with a couple of jabs to his stomach. The emphasis is on the number of punches which find their mark.

The jab is a quick punch and an efficient point scorer but does not do much damage, unlike the hook which similarly does not take much out of the deliverer but gives the recipient a nasty knock on the jaw.

The uppercut also delivers a blow to the jaw but it is more dangerous than the hook and is a natural follow-through for a knockout. Last, but by no means least, is the cross - a knockout punch of incredible power. It should be used with caution as it is tiring to make.

The other form of attack is aimed at tiring your opponent. Body shots are important in draining his endurance and because of the way in which they are more powerful than the head blows. Unfortunately they drain a lot of your energy, too.

If you decide that defence is better than attack for your boxer - if he has a low strength factor but high agility - you can go for the cover-up or auto-defence. Cover-up happens automatically when you press up on the joystick or keyboard. The boxer's gloves will cover the face stopping any punches from your opponent. You cannot duck and weave when your face is covered and, of course, the rest of your body is exposed.

The simplest form of defence is the auto mode. Just leave the joystick or keyboard alone for a moment and the boxer will go into auto-defence which protects you from body blows. Unlike the cover-up, you will be able to move around the ring, protecting yourself by staying out of reach.

The authors, a new team of programmers, have included some tips for the potential world boxing champion - who says that programmers don't play their own games?

They have discovered two overall strategies which pay off if you can stand up long enough. The first is to try and hurt your opponent to the point of knockout. I found that this strategy loses you endurance points very quickly and dozens of quick punches aren't healthy for the deliverer.

Alternatively, you can try and win on points. Each round has a points rating of one to ten for each of the fighters. If you can capture the points on a majority of rounds you can win without going to the point of knockout.

Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing scores as the best boxing game on the market. For realism, it knocks the others for six. It is more complex than Frank Bruno's Boxing and Rocco. Bruno has to win only eight bouts, while Gremlin's Rocco has just three opponents.

The graphics of both games have their fighters head on rather than in profile. McGuigan's game has full figure graphics which are flexible and realistic down to the camera flashguns going off on a knockout.

Knockout, from Alligata, which features full figure graphics, does not contend with Barry McGuigan. The fighters look like stuffed dolls, there is no audience to give the game atmosphere and the ring looks flat and lifelike.

Sports simulations are usually not my scene but Barry McGuigan knocked me flat.

John Gilbert

Publisher: Activision
Programmer: PAW
Price: £7.99
Memory: 48K
Joystick: Kempston

*****

5/5