Mike Tyson’s Punch Out for the Nintendo Entertainment System is one of my all-time favourite boxing titles. The game was based entirely on pattern recognition but it was still loads of fun because the game was oozing with personality. Majesco’s Boxing Fever for the Game Boy Advance reminds me a lot of the Punch Out series, from the animated characters to the floating boxing gloves. So, without further ado, let’s step into the ring and see what Boxing Fever has to offer.
Developed by Digital Fiction, Boxing Fever is a very simple game to pick-up-and-play. The action is viewed from a first-person perspective and the controls are tight. Aspiring pugilists can throw punches high and low, and defend themselves by ducking or weaving left and right. Winning any given fight will depend largely on your ability to read your opponent. Each boxer has their own character attributes, often favouring a certain punch or combination, so the best strategy is often to block and counter punch. What you don’t want to do is flail away at your opponent, leaving yourself vulnerable afterwards due to fatigue.
Opponents vary in size, gender and style of boxing. Heavier fighters, for example, are sluggish, but throw hard-hitting punches that will land you on the canvas in no time flat. On the flip side, slender fighters are more quick and agile, with a little less power behind their punches. Besides the standard moves, players can learn special moves and combos during the training mode. Such super moves require a few seconds to charge up, so you want to make sure you’ve got time to spare before attempting any of these.
Boxing Fever also includes a championship mode, offering four levels of difficulty, all of which are available to the player from the start. In this mode, you’ll compete against all eight fighters, plus two additional boss characters that unlock as you progress through the competition. Unfortunately, Boxing Fever doesn’t keep track of boxer statistics, outside of character bios, so you won’t know what your punching numbers are, or what your overall record is. Last but not least, Boxing Fever offers multiplayer play via link cable. If you’ve got two systems and two copies of the game, you can go head-to-head against a friend in versus mode. This is where most of the replay value is added to Boxing Fever.
In terms of presentation, Digital Fiction has done a great job creating the illusion of 3D. Although the boxers are slightly bland, the animation is fluid and the background visuals are very effective. Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t quite match the level of quality that the visuals set. While the announcer is pretty energetic, the sound effects are generic and the soundtrack is forgettable.
When the final bell rings, Boxing Fever is an excellent arcade boxing title. Obviously inspired by the popular Punch Out series, Boxing Fever offers a little more strategy and a fantastic two-player mode. If you’re a boxing fan with a Game Boy Advance, step in the ring with Boxing Fever, you won’t be disappointed.