Title Bout Championship Boxing is an admirable, intricate simulation that you could call lovingly crafted...if the sport in question wasn't all about punching people in the face.
Matching greats from different eras has long been one of the biggest fantasies of boxing fans. They still argue about how Joe Louis would have stacked up against modern competition and whether or not Mike Tyson, in his prime, could have gone toe-to-toe with that guy who "floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee." And now some of these questions can be answered, at least theoretically, courtesy of Title Bout Championship Boxing. This text-based sports management simulation from boxing experts Jim and Tom Trunzo and Out of the Park Developments is an ode to the sweet science, and it's one of the most intricate and accurate sims of the sport ever released.
Essentially, Title Bout is centered around asking, "What if?" Gameplay modes see you setting up single bouts, fight cards, single- or double-elimination tournaments that feature as many as 16 boxers, and lengthy bout schedules. There are no career or role-playing options as seen in most sports management sims, although you can input your name, and you can track wagering on bouts. This can make fight cards a little more interesting, because you begin with a mere $10,000 stake and dreams of Jimmy the Greek grandeur. However, there are no in-game incentives to earning cash at the betting table.
Instead, your incentive for playing is provided by an incredibly comprehensive boxing encyclopedia. You choose opponents from a list that encompasses a century of boxing history and includes nearly 3,700 fighters. All eras and all weight classes are represented (and there are even some top women, like Laila Ali and Christy Martin), so you can stage bouts pitting today's stars against the greats of yesteryear. Anyone who's anyone is in the game, including all-time legends like Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Jake LaMotta, in addition to contemporary fighters like Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, and Roy Jones Jr. You can also throw fighters into the ring at different stages of their careers, from beginning to postprime. So if you've ever wondered how a young Cassius Clay would have fared against the older and wiser Muhammad Ali, this is your chance to find out.
Each boxer is rated in more than 30 categories (all of which can be edited) that run the gamut from hitting power and chin versus knockdown to killer instinct and conditioning. Training before fights can enhance categories like power, hand speed, and tactical skills. The game even tracks the percentage of punch types thrown, letting you know if your guy favors jabs, hooks, crosses, uppercuts, or combinations. These stats make a huge difference during bouts. Get in tough with Rocky Marciano or Roberto Duran and their high killer instinct ratings might kick in. You need to cover up quickly or risk hitting the canvas in short order. Take a postprime Mike Tyson into the late rounds and you've got a good chance of putting him down because of his low endurance score. All in all, fighters perform just like you expect them to.
And Title Bout doesn't stop at just the combatants. It also includes 94 cornermen, 298 judges, 78 referees, and 13 announcers that are all drawn from boxing's past and present. Want top trainer Lou Duva and legendary cutman Johnny Tocco in your corner? Up for the controversial calls of referee Luis Guzman? Interested in having Michael Buffer call the action? You can have it all here. Each is rated according to real-life performance as well, which means that Duva is one of the best motivators in the business, while Guzman tends to be very strict and will seemingly stop a fight as soon as someone gets cut. Judges even have adjustable bias settings that determine if they favor the higher-rated fighter, the hometown favorite, the champion, or a particular style of boxing.
Bouts themselves show that the developers at Comp-U-Sports and Out of the Park Developments really understand the complexity of boxing. Take over a corner during a fight and you get to run the trainer and the cutman between rounds. Each has 60 seconds of time to allocate to reducing swelling, fixing cuts, imparting strategy, and giving pep talks. Your fighter's condition is illustrated via a graphic of his face that illuminates trouble areas. Whenever a cut opens up or the area around an eye begins to swell, the graphic changes. Bars indicate how bad the swelling is around each eye, and additional sections detail other information, such as fatigue, whether the fighter is still carrying his hands high, and nose and lip conditions.