Review by: Scott Steinberg
Published: October 20, 1999
You’ve got to hand it to Midway, they always make the best arcade games. Sure, that’s a matter of opinion, but it’s not hard to find the evidence to back it up, which includes famous titles such as Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and San Francisco Rush. A creative lot they are indeed, so most gamers tend to expect the best from them, although their recent console efforts have met with mixed reviews. Bearing this in mind, while it was exciting to hear that they’d partnered up with the famous boxer Michael Buffer to make an arcade style boxing title for the Dreamcast, I still remained on guard, wary of the possibility it would be a stinker. Now that Ready 2 Rumble has finally arrived, however, not only did I find that I was caught totally off guard by the game, I was also hit by a few good jabs to the head, a body blow or two, and had an uppercut drive home the point to me.
Hoping that last cheesy comment got you in the mood to hear a little more about Ready 2 Rumble, we can start off by saying it’s a boxing game, albeit one unlike anything you’ve seen before. Then again, perhaps this statement isn’t entirely true, as the best way to describe this tongue-in-cheek comical clobberfest is to say that it’s what you’d get if you put Super Punch Out, Killer Instinct, and WCW/NWO Revenge into a blender and ground them into a pulply whole. You’ll engage in a series of one on one bouts with the computer, or enjoy multiplayer games, where the object is merely to pummel the opponent until they’re so bruised and battered they can’t take it anymore and just can’t get up off of the mat. While it’s easy to follow in the conceptual state, however, there’s much, much more when you get down to it.
A couple of play modes are available for enjoyment in addition to the standard multiplayer, including arcade and championship setups. Arcade mode is simple enough to understand, as you merely choose a boxer and head off to the ring to start the slugfest, making it perfect for those moments when you’ve only got a little time to kill, or when a friend or two needs a good beatdown. With this knowledge under your belt, it’s likely you’ve picked up by now on the idea that the majority of where your time will be spent is in championship mode, which comprises the bulk of the game. It is here that you’ll take a glass-jawed newcomer from the status of rookie to champ, a process which takes quite a while to complete, so rest assured you’ll need to keep a memory card handy before attempting to tackle this mode of play.
Championship mode is more than just a series of matches of ever-increasing difficulty, however, as they’re plenty of side bits to play with as well. When you start in this particular mode, you’re placed in charge of a gym, and your main objective is train the boxers who frequent your gym to become champions. In order to become champions, these up-and-comers must train, compete in exhibition fights to boost their abilities (namely strength, stamina, dexterity, and experience), and compete in title fights. Not just anyone off the streets can challenge a ranked boxer, however, because it costs moolah, so you’ll have to compete in prize fights (essentially exhibition matches) versus the computer or other players upon which money is wagered so that you can raise the cold, hard cash it takes to compete for the glory. Only once you’ve got some loot in your pocket can you begin to separate the champs from the chumps.