Do you want to be just like Mike Tyson? asks the marketing release that came with Mike Tyson Boxing, "Or how about kick his ass?"
"Or bite the ears off of opponents, just like Mike?" Ok, I made that last one up. Even though I like this game, I can’t help throwing in some Tyson jokes. Nonetheless, yes, I want to be like Mike, and yes, I want to kick his ass. Mike Tyson Boxing for the PlayStation is the game in which you can do both.
Mike Tyson Boxing is a realistic boxing sim for 1 to 8 players. In the four modes of play you can beat up your friends, beat on Tyson, slug your way to a title belt, or get yourself clobbered.
VS. mode is a one or two player single bout with 16 boxers to choose from, or you can load a saved fighter from another mode. This mode can also be set up as a tournament for three to six players.
In Showcase mode, players compete in an eight-bout tournament to unite the title belts and become the undisputed world champ. Initially, there are two boxers to choose from. There are also six other locked characters. Each time a player Showcase game is completed; one of these boxers will become available. There is no weight restriction in Showcase mode so lightweights will battle with heavyweights and so forth. Unlocking the first couple of boxers is somewhat easy, but each new tournament becomes progressively more difficult. It gets a little rough when you’re using a 130 lb lightweight to duke it out with Tyson.
The directions for Mike Tyson Boxing say that Showcase is the main mode of game play. I disagree. I think that the World mode is the main mode. In World mode you choose a boxer from one of the three weight classes and control their career from a 25th ranked rookie to world champion.
You not only fight in this mode, you pick the opponents and set the training regimen your boxer needs to move up the ranks. After challenging another fighter (or vice versa), you usually have 14 weeks or more to get your boxer in shape for the upcoming match. Each week of training you have to allot how much time to spend on each activity in the gym. The training activities are skipping, speed bag, circuits, heavy bag, weights, and sparring. The training activities improve your fighter’s strength, speed, balance, endurance, and resilience. Each activity builds up one or more of these attributes.
You have to be careful how you train because you can overwork or under work your fighter. In order to stay in regulation weight, you also have to maintain your fighter’s food intake. When training, Tyson will offer plenty of advice to help you get in peak physical condition.
The player controls can be a little bit tricky. Depending on the camera view, the buttons are different. For example, you’re in a bout using the overhead view, player one’s left hook is the square button and right hook is the circle button, while player two’s controls are reversed, left hook is circle, right hook is the square. If you are always playing a 1-player game you will not have a problem, but, if you play the game with some friends, inevitably you will end up controlling player 2 and have to remember that all of the controls are backwards.
The L1 and R1 buttons dodge your boxer left and right and when pushed simultaneously the boxer blocks. L2 and R2 are body blows and special punch (I’ll get to this later). The other four buttons (right punch, left punch, jab, and uppercut) depend on the camera view you choose. The longer you hold in a punch button, the more power your punches have. If you just hit a lot of buttons when fighting, you are just throwing quick, weak jabs.
In Mike Tyson Boxing timing your power punches and using a good defense are the keys to becoming a champion. Just hopping into the ring and swinging like a lunatic (like Tyson does in real life) will get you nowhere. Unlike a lot of other boxing games, you can also throw punches when dodging. There is a special punch meter on the game screen that you build up by successfully dodging your opponent’s blows. When the special punch meter is full you have a small amount of time to unleash one bone-shattering special punch. If you catch one on the chin, and it sends you to the canvas and a "get up" meter appears. As a bar moves left and right in the meter you are prompted to hit certain buttons in a limited amount of time in order to regain some of your energy. The buttons have to be pressed at the correct time or you won’t regain any health.
The graphics are about average for today’s sports games, though sometimes they are a little too dark. Some matches look like you’re fighting in an arena that has one 60-watt soft white bulb turned on and that’s it. The character graphics in Mike Tyson Boxing aren’t as cartoon-like as Ready 2 Rumble, though the fighters are still stereotyped. For example, the Scottish boxer wears plaid trunks and the Russian fighter looks exactly like Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer in Rocky 4. During a bout you can see both fighters well, there is none of that stupid "see-through" fighter crap here.
Once you know the basic controls to the game, the rest is pretty easy to follow. All of the menus and options in the game are simple and self-explanatory. I had no serious trouble training for a fight without consulting the game booklet, plus, if you do need any advice, Iron Mike is here to give you all the boxing knowledge that you need to become a lean, mean, fighting machine. As for the fighting, I didn’t have much trouble becoming champion, but, with each new challenger, it gets harder and harder to stay on the top.
I have a couple of problems with this game but they are minor:
The boxers do not get tired, not even in the late rounds of a match.
The boxers don’t show any damage. You can beat the crap out of a guy and he will still look as good as he did at the beginning of the bout.
No disqualifications. You or your opponent can’t throw an illegal blow. Having the penalties would be nice considering that half of my bouts came down to the judges’ decision.
Aside from these minor complaints, I enjoyed Mike Tyson Boxing. I really liked the advice and praise that I got from Tyson, with my personal favorite being, "You bashed him good, he looked like a piece of meat." Thanks Mike.
I give Mike Tyson Boxing for the PlayStation a great rating of 4 GiN Gems. I especially enjoyed the world mode. The time that it took training was not too long or tedious, and the bouts are fast and furious.