Sunday, 16 April 2017

Toughman Contest (32X)

I never thought there'd be an EA Sports game on this blog, but it's game that's long forgotten, on a console that no-one cares about, featuring a sport that wasn't really popular for very long (and even when it was, it was never massive). Toughman Contest is an amateur boxing tournament that's been going since the late 1970s, but the only time I've ever heard of it was in the late 90s, though it apparently continues to this day. This game is vaguely based on that competition, though all the boxers in it are fictional caricatures with silly names.

Presentation-wise, it's a bit of a mixed bag in many ways: though the graphics are all competently drawn, the game has an ugly pseudo-realistic aesthetic, and the menus look cheap and low-rent compared to the game itself. The character sprites are all massive, taking up most of the screen, though whoever you pick will always be represented by a green outline. A nice touch is that there are four tounaments in which you can compete: North America, South America, Europe/Middle East and Asia/Australasia, and each of them has their own (heavily stereotyped, in a Street Fighter kind of way) arena.  As for how it plays, it's kind of like Super Punch-Out, but worse in every possible way.

Like Super Punch-Out, you view your boxer from behind, and you've got to dodge your opponent's punches and hit them back with the right timing. Unfortunately, it doesn't work as well as Nintendo's game, since in the name of realism, there's no tells when any of your opponents are going to attack or dodge or block, and it just feels like everything happens at random. Sometimes you won't get a single hit on your opponent the whole match, other times, you'll pummel their face in by simply holding up and C. There's also times when your opponent's health will just randomly drop to nothing, a mechanic which I assume is supposed to represent a lucky suckerpunch? Another problem is that I've played plenty of matches, and have never won nor lost by knock-out. Every match has been decided by judge's decision, which also feels slightly random. The final result usually makes sense, and the most successful boxer will win, but it could be a fight where you didn't get a single hit in, and you'll just barely lose by one or two points. Conversely, you could batter your opponent into paste, and just barely scrape a couple of points ahead of them.

I saw screenshots of this game, and gave it a shot, hoping it might be a diamond hidden in the substantial rough that is the 32X library. But it's just another ugly, boring game that's outshined by better titles on less powerful hardware. Oh well, never mind.

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