E3 2002: Black and Bruised impressions

The zany new boxer from Majesco and Digital Fiction is playable at E3. Check out our impressions of the latest build.

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Majesco is showing the newest build of Black and Bruised, its quirky new boxing title developed by Digital Fiction, here at E3. Development of the game is only about half complete, but already it's looking like it will be a very solid game that will appeal to a much wider audience than just the typical boxing fan.

Unlike most "serious" boxing games, Black and Bruised is pretty off-the-wall. The demo version we saw had only a handful of characters available out of an eventual pool of 18. These characters range from a trailer park girl to a tubby boxer who looks a bit like King Hippo from the original quirky boxing game Mike Tyson's Punch Out. These characters aren't just random oddballs who decided to get together and duke it out--each one has his or her own extensive back story, and all of these stories are intertwined, giving the game's plot a sort of soap opera feel. We saw a bit of this when two characters got into some trash talking before a match.

The most striking thing about Black and Bruised is its graphics. The game uses cel shading extensively, which isn't really so unusual in itself; the cartoonish effect is more and more common in games these days. Black and Bruised's character models are very high quality, though. The cel shading, exaggerated character modeling, and very expressive animation all add up to give the game a very cartoonlike feel and appearance. As the fights progress, the boxers begin to show serious signs of wear and tear. Black eyes, swollen lips, bruises all over the place--after a while, your character will be looking pretty rough. We're told that the developer will be adding even more to this system, such as swelling in other parts of the characters' bodies.

The actual gameplay in Black and Bruised is pretty standard boxing fare. We tried the PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions, and not surprisingly, both of them look and play almost exactly the same. Your boxer has a variety of normal punches--left and right hook and jab, uppercuts, body blows. Each character also has combinations that can be achieved by throwing the right punches in sequence, and you can also charge up your fists by holding the directional pad in one direction (each of which controls a different kind of energy).

Black and Bruised is definitely looking to be greater than the average boxing game, and if the developer can improve as planned on what it's already created, the game will be quite the contender when it comes out in the fall.

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