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Heavyweight Championship Boxing (Game Boy) artwork

Heavyweight Championship Boxing (Game Boy) review

"Heavyweight Championship Boxing was the first boxing game on a Nintendo handheld. With no real predecessor to look at, developers TOSE were required to design the game interface and hope their vision did not flop on arrival. Heavyweight Championship Boxing turned out surprisingly decent."

Heavyweight Championship Boxing, simply called Boxing in Japan, was the first boxing game for the Nintendo Game Boy, and therefore by default the first boxing game on a Nintendo handheld. With no real predecessor to look at, developers TOSE were required to design the game interface and hope their vision did not flop on arrival.

In some respects, HCB turned out surprisingly decent. The bulk of the game, where you do your actual boxing, takes place from a first-person perspective while facing your opponent, much like the Boxing section of Wii Sports. Here, you use the A and B button to jab at your rival boxer with your right and left hands respectively, while you can press the Down and Up button to deliver and guard against hooks and upper-cuts. The controls are fairly intuitive, and the only real frustration is that sometimes your hits are stopped from being delivered if your foe strikes first.

A clean view also helps when fighting. Given the small size of the Game Boy's screen, there is little clutter. Aside from a couple of gauges that you can use to time hits for more damage and Special Attacks and some more on the bottom you use to check your health metre, most of the screen is focused on the boxer you are facing off against. When you send out a hit, you can clearly see if you landed it by the smack of his head or if it was blocked when he has his arms up. An outline of your own head is used both as a crosshairs and to avoid punches. You need to roughly line up the other boxer in your head outline to ensure you hit his head or arm-block, but similarly, if he is not in the crosshairs, any punch he sends at you will not fly true.

Where the game breaks down is mostly in its technical limitations. To perform a Special Attack, which removes a significant amount of your enemy's health and knocks him down with a chance of a technical knockout, you must strike him when your Punch gauge is full for either gauge. Although the gauges are easy to see, a Special also requires the condition of your boxing gloves flashing, a seemingly random event. The flickering of the boxing gloves is difficult to detect, and because it ends after a single fill-up of your gauge, or if you send out a punch prior to your Punch gauge being full, you may not even have realised your gloves were flashing.

Also, you are presented with six different unique characters you can choose to play as at the start of the game, with all the boxers you do not choose given their own unique appearances when engaged in a bout with them in the ring. However, there is a definite tier here - two or three of the characters do barely any damage against higher-level opponents, and their Specials do not always register as Knockouts. Conversely, picking The Champ allows you to steamroll the competition. A difficulty option would have been better.

Additionally, there is only one single track that plays throughout the majority of the game, intermittently broken up by a short tune that follows a knockout or during a break. An annoying high-pitched chime counts out the Knockout count up to 10. I found myself turning the sound off right away. Eye of the Tiger, this is not.

Overall, Heavyweight Championship Boxing turned out about as well as could be hoped for an early release on a primitive hardware. You certainly are not going to play this today for fun, but as perhaps the very earliest handheld boxing game (definitely the earliest on a Nintendo handheld), it shows how playable a handheld boxing game can be with a small screen and limited buttons.


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Community review by darkstarripclaw (July 05, 2013)

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