Love him or hate him, Mike Tyson is assuredly one of the most recognizable names in the world. Nintendo realized that back in the 8-bit days of the NES and released Mike Tyson's Punch Out. But once the youngest heavyweight in history started to run into problems outside the ring, Nintendo quickly dropped Mike Tyson's name and likeness from the title. Since then, for more than a decade now, Mike Tyson has been the most famous sports figure to to disappear from the world of video gaming. However, thanks to Codemasters, a European gaming company most noted for its Micro and Toca racing series, Mike Tyson will once again return to the virtual ring this May on the PlayStation.
"Believe it or not, it's my kids who have been after me to get a game going for quite a while now, and I've been watching this whole area of sports-based computer and video games, waiting for just the right opportunity to become involved," said Tyson. "Codemasters brought to the table a long string of hit games and showed me that they've got what it takes to make a boxing game that I'm proud to put my name on."
Mike Tyson's Boxing is actually a port of Codemasters' European-only Prince Naseem Boxing. Codemasters figured that while the Prince may be well known in Europe, Tyson still has a much greater draw in the States. The game will feature Tyson as the main fighter, whom you get to control in a number of different modes, including championship, tournament, and even a boxing-management game. The game also has a standard versus mode, which lets you and another player each choose a fighter from a selection of 16 fighters who range in ability. The championship mode features three different weight classes to explore - light, medium, and heavy. Each weight class has a different style that you'll need to adapt to. For example, lightweights are fast, and they can dish out and take lots of punishment, so you'll have to keep a close eye on the score cards since knockouts don't come all that often in the lightweight division. However, in the heavyweight division it's the opposite - you'll have to deliver heavy blows and bob and weave.
The game plays more like an arcade-style boxing game than like a simulation. Think, Ready to Rumble meets Knockout Kings. The fighters have the usual assortment of pugilistic artillery such as hooks, uppercuts, and jabs, as well as a number of special signature punches that pack a wallop. For all gaming purposes these punches can be considered special moves. The action in the ring seems to run a little slower than it actually should, but the version we saw still had some fine tuning to undergo.
Visually, Mike Tyson's Boxing is decent. The virtual Tyson looks very similar to his real-life counterpart, although minus his latest hairdo. Each of the generic fighters in the game has a unique look, and for the most part the fighters conform to what you'd expect a typical boxer to look like. The rings and venues of the matches look authentic and are also very typical of what you'd expect. One area of the game's visuals that look as though it still needs some more work is the animation of the fighters. Hopefully, the final version of the game will feature cleaner animations than the early version we played.
So, while finally seeing Mike Tyson back in a video game is sure to be a thrill for video-game boxing fans, the question of whether the game will stand up next to the current crop of PlayStation boxing games still remains to be seen. Mike Tyson's Boxing is scheduled for release this May for the PlayStation.