8-bit and 16-bit sports games named after specific athletes fall into three categories:
- Awful games churned out to make a quick buck
- The game, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!; quite possibly the greatest game ever made.
- Video games I haven't played yet.
Well, George Foreman's KO Boxing is a boxing game...so does it get some of that Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! magic? Let's see!
Things start off pretty well, with some peppy credits and a decent digital rendering of our hero (and collector of royalty checks), followed by a spiffy voice clip of George Foreman reading the title screen.
We're then greeted with a frisky and voluminous "options" menu, where we can choose to play the game or not.
I'm not sure what "Two Player" does, but given George's naming preferences, I assume two George Foremans fight each other (or should that that, "Georges Foreman", like "Attorneys General"?). Of course, if Jean Claude Van-Damme's space/time instructional video, Time Cop, has taught us anything, it is that when two versions of the same individual come into contact, they turn into a grotesque and bloody special effect...so don't expect this fight to go the full length!
I imagine his record would look something like this after a 2 Player match:
Get on with it!
Anyway, I'm kind of hemming and hawing because I don't have a lot of the game to work with. Game-play wise, imagine Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!; you know, the game that re-defined boxing games by turning it into a boxing-themed game of "react to your opponent telegraphed attacks by dodging and counter-punching?"
In that masterful title, each humorously stereotypical (aka "moderately offensive") pugilist would indicate his intentions to do you harm by raising a glove, or wiggling his eyebrows, or crouching down and bodily launching himself in your direction like a rabid woodchuck. You could learn to recognize each fighter's quirky maneuvers and figure out when to duck, dip, dodge, and how best your toddler-sized boxing phenom could retaliate with his own rock-'em-sock-'em uh...sockings.
Okay, now imagine it's five years later and you're a lazy game design company. What's the easiest feature to remove to get a game out the door fast enough for you to get back to your loft apartment and shoveling pretzel twists down your cavernous maw? You guessed it! They decided to remove the telegraphing of your opponent's punches!
Thus, George Foreman's KO Boxing lives up to its name by:
- Having you play as George Foreman
- Eliminating that whole "enemy boxers telegraph their moves" thing, thus making it unplayable, thus resulting in George Foreman getting KOed
- (while boxing)
This, then, is the game we are left with: a game with the Punch Out!! from-behind point of view, but none of the pattern recognition that made that title so much fun. Basically you might as well punch and block at random.
Or dodge. Dodge a lot. At random.
And after the enemy punches, you can counter-punch, right? Well, yes and no (mostly the latter). After one or two counter-punches, they'll punch you. So, your reward for psychically predicting their patterns (or rather, getting lucky by repeatedly dodging until one of your dodges was successful) is that you get to throw a punch or two, then you get punched.
But surely, they let you learn the game by fighting someone weaker than you, right?
That'd be a big negatory, good buddy! They decided to play up the "elderly boxer tries one more run" that sold so many tickets for the classic Little Mac/Glass Joe confrontation. Unfortunately, this time YOU are the decrepit Glass Joe to THIS terrifying fellow's Little Mac:
Yes, Lorenzo...uh, "Bullet", Lucian-- WAIT A MINUTE! You can't fool me, Mr. Luciano...I can see that YOU ARE CLEARLY RICHARD NIXON!
After one short animated sequence, that is as depressing for you as it is demeaning to the bikini model...
...and the Thrilla in the WatergateNilla that is Foreman V. Nixon is on!
Sadly, the younger(?) Nixon moves faster than you, hits harder than you, and has more stamina than you. If you don't believe me, check out these post-round-one totals:
I threw 3 more punches than he did, hit 8 more punches than he did, but for some reason he completely depleted my health meter and scored a knockdown, then damaged me pretty badly again after I got up. Meanwhile I barely got his original energy bar below 60%. He has a "power punch" which has a little wind-up animation (that lasts for less than half a second--if you're following the game-enforced approach of "dodging all the time" you'll be in mid-dodge when his wind-up animation plays, so you can step back into his power punch). He hit me with it once. During game play, you can score a "power punch" icon which lets you throw some kind of twisty-punch. I earned and threw two of those, both of which connected. And still I lost about 130% or so of my health bar to his 40% damage, despite my connecting with 1.33333 punches for every one he connected with. Make of that what you will. Also, I feel like getting some Doritos® brand snack chips...weird!
On the upside, when you get knocked down (which will happen a lot), a lobotomy patient in a blackjack dealer's outfit will slump out onto the canvas and gesticulate wildly...
...almost as wildly as YOU will be gesticulating, as you hammer the control pad, trying to get your sleepy, sleepy George Foreman to rise up to his feet and, Tyler Durgen-style, absorb some more inevitable fist-related punishment from the late President Richard Millhouse Nixon.
Well, what have we learned?
Well, George "The Comeback Grampa" Foreman is no match for an enraged, somehow en-youth-ened Richard Nixon.
But perhaps more importantly/unfortunately, I've also learned that President Nixon has been studying at Super Macho Man School of Dance:
LIVE WITH THAT IMAGE, PLANET EARTH!
But Seriously, Mr. Foreman...Are You For Real?
But stop the presses -- after buying this game I found out I had been duped! George was only kidding around when he released George Foreman's KO Boxing in 1992! Evidently it was just an elaborate joke, because 3 years later he would release another Super Nintendo boxing game entitled...
That's great, but, uh, can I get back the money that I spent on this "fake" version of a George Foreman boxing game? That $1 would be real handy right now. You see, there's a vending machine down the hall which sells little packs of Doritos...
— carlmarksguy, 2012-03-16