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Ready 2 Rumble (PSX) Review

Publisher: Midway
Release Date: Fall 1999

Background Info

Screens (4)
Ready 2 Rumble for the Dreamcast is a graphical showpiece, and for me was one of the highlights of last year's E3. So, how does the same game on the aging PSX hardware compare to its high-powered big brother? Surprisingly well, to tell you the truth.

Presentation/Graphics : 85
Let's get this out of the way right now - this version of R2R looks almost silly compared to the DC version. Almost. However, if you remain objective and just accept it as a PSX game, things suddenly look more appealing.

Having played both versions of the game extensively, I can say that the character models on the PSX are surprisingly faithful to the DC version. Sure, they're not nearly as sharp or detailed, but they still look really good, and animate extremely well. Signature moves are reproduced perfectly and each character is represented as well as can be expected, which is still surprisingly good.

I think what surprised me most about this version of R2R, graphically, is that every screenshot I'd seen up to actually playing the game looked hideous. Laughably bad, really. In truth, once you boot this game up on your PSX, you won't be disappointed.

My biggest complaint is that the arenas are bland, the crowds are splotchy, and there's not much to create a "big fight" atmosphere. Beyond that, however, R2R on the PSX looks just fine.

Presentation/Audio : 65
Michael Buffer. The ubiquitous boxing "personality" with the game's namesake catch-phrase is, of course, all over this game. I don't know - I find myself fairly indifferent to him. As a huge boxing fan, I see him probably more than I'd like, but the audio in the game, as in the DC version, is all about him.

Fight and boxer intros are done by the man himself, and it's OK maybe the first one and a half times you hear it, then it gets very, very old. Luckily you can skip through his pre-fight and boxer segments and get straight to the action.

The rest is good enough, but not spectacular. The music sucks (big surprise), and the in-fight sounds are decent. Blows could certainly use a bit more audio oomph, and at times it's hard to tell whether a punch was blocked or made contact. Corner men shout out "advice" during a bout that's much too loud in the mix and which soon becomes a bit grating, and fighters have only two post-fight sayings and animations. A bit more variety would've been nice.

Interface/Options : 85
R2R has a simple enough control-scheme: the four face buttons on the PSX controller represent left and right high and low punches, while different d-pad/stick and button combos produce other kinds of blows such as hooks or uppercuts. This system is very easy to pick up, which makes R2R one of those classic Midway multiplayer games like NFL Blitz.

Two of the shoulder buttons combined with the d-pad/stick account for blocks, jukes, ducks, etc. This is probably the most difficult part of the game to really get down, but once you start to get the hang of it, some very impressive evasive maneuvers are at your disposal.

Gameplay : 80
R2R has an arcade mode which consists of one or two player bash-fests, or you can choose a boxer, train him or her, and take them through the Career Mode in pursuit of a championship in the Gold Class.

Training your boxer consists of a variety of minigames that will, if performed successfully, boost various attributes such as stamina, strength, or dexterity. Training costs money, however, so you need to compete in prize and title fights to earn cash. Winning a championship will unlock another boxer for you to train.

Career Mode is fun at first; however, the minigames become a bit tiresome after awhile, and the computer opponents are far too easy, which ultimately makes the one-player game a bit shallow. My first run through this mode with Afro Thunder left me with a record of 56-0. To tell you the truth, I doubt I'd have the time or patience to unlock and improve all of the available fighters. Still, it's not all bad, and can be a fairly satisfying diversion if you can't find a human opponent.

And human opponents are what R2R is all about. Invite some friends over, pop this game in, and you've got some classic trash-talkin' fun ahead of you. The basics of the game are easily learned, so anyone with a moderate amount of coordination can have a good time. The biggest omission that I can see is some sort of Tournament Mode ala NFL Blitz that would've added an extra option to the multiplayer experience.

Replay Value : 75
This game certainly has two faces - the single player experience is decent, but doesn't really survive the long haul; two player games, however, are an absolute blast that are as fun to watch as play. Get a group of boxing fans together, and you'll be passing the controllers around for hours, even among non-gamers.

Overall : 80
This version of R2R is every bit as enjoyable as the Dreamcast version and the simple-but-fun gameplay can certainly be enjoyed by a broad scope of people, even if they're the most casual of gamers. R2R is certainly best enjoyed with a group of friends, but even as a solo experience it's worth a rent. Boxing fans, especially, won't be disappointed.

By: Andy L. 1/14/00

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