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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by Midway

Ups:Revolutionary graphics; great sense of humor; excellent motion; a killer boxing game.

Downs:One-player mode gets easy after multiple replays.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

Do you ever wonder why, before now, nobody has made a decent boxing game since Punch Out on the NES? Do you think that violence without real-world consequences has gotten a bad rap? Do you feel like beating the hell out of your friends but have ethical objections and/or enjoy having a full set of teeth? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then have I got a treat for you. It’s called Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and it’s a gamer's dream. It’s just like boxing only it’s not dirty and corrupt. No, scratch that. It’s better than boxing.

Ready 2 Rumble delivers all the action and strategy of boxing with a relentless action-packed pace. None of that wussy tie up the other guy and catch your breath stuff in this game. Did you get yourself in a bad situation, and now you need a breather? You can either cover up with a defensive sequence and try to stay on your feet until the bell goes off, or you can do your darndest to put your opponent down for a ten second nap. Screw up either option and it’s lights out. Sure, you’ll be crying like a little girl for a while, but never fear. You’ll be back on your feet and plotting your glorious comeback in no time.

The first thing you notice about Ready 2 Rumble is the graphics. They’re beautiful. The boxers are rendered so well that you can see muscles rippling under their flesh and veins popping out. No square blocks here. You have seamless design, fluid body movement, and nice smooth jaws to crack. After going a few rounds your boxer will be sporting some impressive bruises and maybe a few missing teeth. Oh, yeah.

The movement in Ready 2 Rumble is amazing. The traditional concept of a fighting game has the fighters running all over the screen and usually standing a few body widths apart. Not here. This is all about a toe to toe slugfest. Juking and jiving, blocking and swaying, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, that’s what it’s all about. You’ll have to look for an opening to unleash your assault if you want to take the day. The best part is that all of this is made possible by the cool, but over-exaggerated, character movement that succeeds because it never takes itself too seriously.

You have seventeen fighters to choose from, which is pretty impressive, but even more so considering the characters never get repetitive. They have different speeds, combos, power, reach and style fighting. You have everything from the three hundred and sixty pound sledge hammer throwing behemoth of a boxer to the stick and move style of the one hundred and five pound Lulu Valentine. The variation in reach will also make a big difference in your strategy. At least it will if you want to win. There are no weight classes in Ready 2 Rumble, so if you want to win you better be able to make your rival fight your game.

The one-player mode offers you two options, the Arcade mode and the Championship mode. The Arcade mde is, well, an arcade mode. In the Championship mode you take a few fighters into your gym and train them to improve their stats. Training costs money, however. To earn the precious green stuff you can win regular title bouts as you move up in the rankings. For the big pay day you can fight an exhibition bout and even bet on the fight. The more you bet, the harder the fight is. You have to be careful though. Your fighter only has so many fights in him at the start of the game. If you squander them all on making money before you can move to the next division it’s all over.

The training option adds a new depth to the game. You can hit a variety of exercise equipment that improves various stats. To use the equipment you can chose auto train for immediate gratification or you can play a little mini game. Most of the mini games involve executing simple button sequences or learning to time things correctly. Doing it this way is more efficient and allows you to get more out of your training dollars, but it takes a lt longer. Since the mini games weren’t all that much fun I usually opted for the auto train. You can also download your pumped up fighter from your VMU, which gives you the chance to take on your buddy's prize fighter and see who’s the baddest of them all.

The only real complaints I have about the one player mode is that the AI isn’t all that great, and you’ll be spanking your opponents before too long. This hinders its replay value a lot. After you’ve been through the game a few times, the next few times aren’t quite so appealing. The game could also be improved by adding a more extensive moves list. As it is, they’re relatively easy to master, and once again this is reflected in a reduced replay value.

The two-player mode is where this game really shines. If you know someone who loves to play video games, then you should really give this a look. There’s a surprising amount of strategy in this game. Learning when to block, when to dodge, and when to lay it all on the line are skills you’ll have to master if you want to be the champ, and this will keep you interested for quite some time. Besides, there’s something immensely and disturbingly attractive about laying down the hurt on your friends and loved ones . Add an extremely healthy dose of smack talking and you have yourself a winning combination.

If you’re a boxing fan, then trust me, you’ve been waiting for this game for years. For the rest of the population, Ready 2 Rumble is great, arcade-style fun, and will make an enjoyable addition to any collection.

--Jeff Luther