Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! for the Nintendo Entertainment System was the first licensed Mike Tyson boxing game. It was an amazingly fun game that pit you, as the archetypal underdog known as Little Mac, against a cavalcade of colorful opponents, leading up to the title bout against then-role-model-worthy champ Iron Mike Tyson. But a lot has changed since then, and Mike isn't quite the Nintendo-friendly hero he once was. Undaunted, Codemasters has picked up the license to use Mike's likeness in a game, and the result is Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing, which is quite possibly one of the most confused games and most definitely one of the worst games to be released so far in 2002.
The confusion comes into play almost immediately. What is this game trying to accomplish? Looking at its long list of punch types, which include hooks, jabs, uppercuts, counterpunches, and a handful of defensive moves, you might think it's supposed to be a complex boxing simulation of sorts. But as soon as you see the game in action, it becomes quite apparent that none of this even comes close to resembling the actual sport. Instead, the game tries to appeal to both boxing and fighting game fans by offering up lots of canned combo moves, complete with flashy effects, that you can unleash only after earning a couple of combo points.
The game's AI seems to box you at random in the game's one-player modes. Sometimes the first two or three opponents will be total pushovers. Other times, they'll deliver an unrelenting attack that leaves you on the mat. Regardless of the AI, the gameplay is extremely sloppy. Collision detection is spotty, so you'll never be terribly sure if an uppercut is going to connect with the other boxer or not. The game has a lot of different punches and moves, but the game's perspective and the models' odd, stilted animation make it pretty difficult to figure out what is going on in the ring at any given moment.
Graphically, there's a lot of weird stuff going on in Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing. The most noticeable issue is that the screen appears to be squashed horizontally, almost as if you're watching a widescreen program on a standard 4:3 TV screen. Everyone and everything looks oddly skinny. More importantly, the game suffers from quite a bit of slowdown, especially when throwing power punches, which often leave a trail of frame-rate-crippling smoke in their wake. The boxer models already look weird, and the stretched-out appearance of the game makes them look even weirder. The game's sound is also extremely underwhelming. The game's box touts "commentary by Ian Darke and Bobby Czyz," but in practice, that amounts to a broken, stunted sentence or two between rounds.
The game features a handful of different modes, and there's even a ton of unlockable items to be found that can be used to customize your own boxer. Unfortunately, the game plays so poorly that you'll never feel compelled to actually trudge through and see what it has to offer. Anyway, the unlockable items don't do anything to salvage this game. Do yourself a favor and look elsewhere for boxing excitement.