Toughman Contest


Review by Matt Paprocki

EA Sports


Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


EA tried their hand at boxing on the 3DO with Foes of Ali, a decent and playable fully 3-D representation of the sport. The 32X and Genesis received a far more specialized game, Toughman Contest. Though it looks like Punch-Out at first glance, it's not. It is a weaker game overall, saved by fantastic animation, heavy hits, and an enjoyable game of arcade boxing.

The Toughman Contest is famous for Butterbean, one of those boxers famous for quick matches and slaughtering the poor saps that get in the ring with him. That's what this game captures flawlessly. It's brutal and fast paced as the selected player character is sent into the ring against multiple fake brawlers, and some celebrities (including Butterbean and rapper Coolio). You climb the usual ladder, taking on each higher ranked opponent.

The biggest flaw here is the lack of 6-button control. Hard punches are thrown by holding down either the left or right punch button. You'll throw a jab when you to blast someone and throw a power shot when you want to jab. It's inconsistent and hard to get a feel for it no matter how many practice sessions you're a part of.

The behind-the-back-via-wire-frame view is where the Punch-Out comparisons are obviously drawn from, at least when looking at the arcade version. No matter which boxer you choose, the green transparent boxer you control looks the same, so the lack of any customization as far as looks go is not a problem. That's the only thing here that even remotely makes it like Punch-Out. There are no patterns to memorize; it's all based on reaction times and countering.

That seems fine for the first few fights, but as the difficulty ramp kicks in, things get nearly impossible. It can be hard to see where punches are going to land, especially when the faster boxers begin their onslaught. All the user-selected special punches in the game combined wouldn't save you here.

That has everything to do with the requirement of an inhuman reaction time, and nothing to do with this fantastic graphics engine. The 32X beefs up the number of colors and details, especially where the backgrounds are concerned. There's a far better variety of audience members in this upgraded port. The animation is the same, and that's no complaint. Every punch is fluid, and you can literally read expressions of pain on the recently blasted opponent.

No music is present during the fights, and if the audio accompanying the menu is any indication, that's a good thing. Instead, you'll be able to feel each hit connect with a sickening thud. There's a small amount of voice work and some digitized whistles as the ring card girl struts across the ring. It's not a special package, just one that enhances the game and makes each connected blow more satisfying.

There are a few boxing games from the 16-bit era that are better than this, including the sequel to the game Toughman Contest seems to mimic. The Sega produced Greatest Heavyweights is also a strong match. On the 32X though, this is all you'll find in the boxing ring, and it's a surprising and enjoyable arcade boxer worth tracking down (especially over the Genesis version).


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Last updated: Friday, July 01, 2005 12:51 PM