Most of you will remember Ready 2 Rumble Boxing as one of the Dreamcast's premiere launch titles - one of the great games that helped the system get off the ground. Now, R2R is available for the PlayStation. While the graphics may not be as pretty, and the game may not run as quickly as the original version, it still has the fast, combo-driven gameplay that made the Dreamcast version such a hit.
The gameplay comes in two different flavors. Arcade mode lets you jump right in and play against either the computer or a friend. Against the computer, you'll see a fighting game-like progression through the ranks, culminating in a battle with a boss boxer. Which boss you get is determined by the game's difficulty setting. While the two-player mode may be the main draw, the meat of the single-player game is contained in the game's championship mode. Here, you'll select a boxer whose stats will be extremely low. You'll have to work the boxer through the ranks, through three classes. You can fight for cash prizes and then spend the cash on the training of your boxer. The training takes form in a series of little minigames. Do extremely well in the minigames, and you'll get an even higher bonus to your stats. You only have a certain number of fights in class, so you must strike a balance between fighting for cash and fighting for higher rankings. As you move through the ranks, you'll unlock more boxers in the championship mode, and you'll eventually unlock the bosses for play in the arcade mode. Getting each boxer's stats raised and completing the championship mode take a lot of time, but not nearly as much as it should since the game's AI is quite weak. The computer-controlled boxers simply can't combat stick-and-move tactics. So you really don't even need to pump up most of your boxers' stats. As long as they can get inside, get off a hit or two, and get away before the opponent can counter, they'll win with ease. Each version of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing contains one exclusive boxer. The PlayStation version has Gino Stiletto, a decent fighter, but he doesn't seem to fit into the R2R universe as well as the rest of the fighters do.
OK, it's pretty much a given that the game isn't going to look as good as the Dreamcast version. But when compared with other PlayStation games, it still looks good. The game runs at a smooth speed that enables you to get into a groove and really excel at the game's combos. The boxers' faces get banged up nicely after a few rounds, and they still have some of their facial expressions. The boxers' personalities still shine through in the ring introductions, and the animation is quite good. The sound of the crowd, including shouts of encouragement from the corner men, brings a lot to the game's atmosphere. The cool thing about the crowd is that they sound different depending on how high your rank is. When you start out as a lowly unranked bronze-class fighter, no one will show up to watch you fight. But by the time you're ready to win the gold championship, you'll be duking it out in a sold-out arena.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is a good arcade-style boxing game. If you're a fan of fighting games, you'll enjoy the game's special moves, combo system, and varied characters. Boxing fans will be happy with the game as well, because, although it isn't very realistic, the ability it gives you to throw your own combos surpasses the combo system used in Knockout Kings 2000. While it's not as good as the Dreamcast version, Ready 2 Rumble on the PlayStation is still a fun, good-looking game.