For almost as long as video games have been around, boxing video games have been around too. It’s no surprise really, especially considering how beloved the sport is around the globe. They also make for a satisfying gaming experience–landing heavy blows, dodging out of trouble, and (let’s face it) checking out those gnarly cuts and bruises that you inflict on your opponent’s face.
However, it’s not always that way. If the game’s core components are lacking, then the experience can become a grating one. Of course, that goes for all types of video games, but it especially applies to boxing games. The sport is a nuanced, technical, and psychological affair, which can mean that video games that can’t replicate those facets of it are left floundering.
What are some of the worst examples? Well, we’re glad you asked! We’ve compiled some of the most turgid, vacuous, and unnecessary video game depictions of boxing–some of which are so awful, you’ll feel like knocking yourself out instead. These are 15 absolutely terrible boxing games.
15 This Game's A Little Wonky
Talk about wonky boxing games–2003’s Black and Bruised is the very epitome of the word. Released for the PS2 and GameCube, this boxing title fails to tick hardly any of the necessary boxes required to make a good fighting game.
I’ll admit that the cel-shaded graphics are pretty neat, but past that, there’s not much else to write home about. It focuses more on an arcade-style approach, but lacks the fun and charm that games like Ready 2 Rumble had. Also, when you can win most fights by just button-mashing, it kind of throws any need for strategy out the window.
Black & Bruised goes for a hard uppercut, but ends up delivering a soft jab instead. So yeah, best to avoid this failed concept if you’re a fan of the sport.
14 Not Worthy Of The King
It’s no surprise that legendary boxing promoter Don King got his very own video game made in his honor, but what is surprising is how lacking in style it is compared to its real-life inspiration.
Released in 2009 for the Wii, Don King Boxing is one of the dullest and most boring boxing games you could ever hope to lay gloves on. Solid enough controls aside, the rest of the title fails to pack a punch in almost every area of its flawed design. Visually it’s bland, sound-wise it’s irritating, and gameplay-wise it’s repetitive–combining to make this a sorry affair.
Where’s the style? Where’s the panache? It’s certainly nowhere to be found in this fighting title–not unless your standards for style and panache are unfathomably low.
13 Why Are They Making A Video Game?
This 2000 boxing title is just downright bad. Released for the PS1, HBO Boxing has all the licences and advertising of that comes with an HBO video game, but it’s surprisingly lazy and lacklustre where it matters the most–between the ropes.
You can have all the razzmatazz you want, but if it’s not fun to play, it’s not worth playing at all. Sadly, HBO Boxing falls into this camp with its insanely awkward controls, butt-ugly visuals, and one of the worst hit detection systems ever seen in a video game–really, it’s that bad.
If you love HBO’s boxing coverage, do yourself a favor: don’t play this game. It will only make you think less of it if you subject yourself to this awful attempt by the cable company.
12 This Did Not Age Well
If you’re going to make a boxing game with legendary boxer Muhammed Ali’s name slapped on the cover, you better make sure you do it right. Well, try telling that to EA Sports, the developers responsible for releasing a terrible game for the 3DO called Foes of Ali.
Put out in 1995, the boxing ‘sim’ was mostly known for being one of the first games of its ilk to utilize 3D graphics. However, it seems the developers focused a little too much on this aesthetic aspect rather than make the game, you know, fun. The movement is sluggish, the control scheme is clunky, and the fights themselves are rather dull in all honesty.
Even the small things are poorly implemented, such as the utterly benign scoring system which can have players win or lose rounds in excess of 10-0. Well, we’re the judges here, and this one gets a big fat zero.
11 Many Features Does Not Make A Good Game
In yet another boxing title to use a popular figure from the sport, Riddick Bowe Boxing is a rather odd title in the genre. The game–released in 1993 for the Game Boy and Game Gear–feels a lot like Boxing Legends of the Ring, except it’s nowhere near as good.
The game is a prime example of quantity over quality. Sure, it has tons of modes and challenges for you to tackle, but when the gameplay is this laborious, is there really any point? The 2D sprite graphics are passable, but that’s about all the praise I can give it.
What really kills a game like this is the controls–which are unreliable at the best of times in Riddick Bowe Boxing. Between button delays and unintended actions, I’m afraid to say that this frustrating game will have you chucking the controller across the room.
10 Unbeatable A.I.
On the outset, FaceBreaker looks like a fun, over-the-top portrayal of the sport. In reality however, FaceBreaker is a boring, over-the-top betrayal of the sport. Released in 2008 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii, this cartoonish title will have you in a rage for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the gameplay is the very definition of the word stale. Button mashers might love it, but the rest of you will hate it. Then there’s the insanely wonky A.I. which delivers one of the toughest (to the point of impossible) gameplay experiences I’ve ever come across. And, with scant game mode options, you’ll find there’s really not much to do in the game.
Graphically it’s very colorful, but don’t be fooled–the rest of the game is anything but colorful.
9 Wii Don't Like This One
Taking its inspiration from the manga series Hajime No Ippo, Victorious Boxers: Revolution serves as the third game to come from the anime, released in 2007 for the Wii. Sadly, boxing in your living room has never felt so lacking in fun.
If you’re going to do motion controls, at least make sure they’re stable. Unfortunately, they can prove to be troublesome as players flail around in hopes of landing that big uppercut. However, it’s more trial and error than anything else. Beyond that, there’s some shoddy voice acting, inferior graphical quality, and an unpredictable A.I.–making this one that punches above its weight far too often.
You won’t be feeling too glorious after playing this title, and you certainly won’t be starting a revolution over it either. Stick to watching the anime if that’s more your thing–you’ll thank me later.
8 The Return Of The King
Don King Boxing wasn’t the first failed foray into the video game market for the iconic promoter, in fact, there was another in 2008: the sluggish Don King Presents: Prizefighter.
Despite boasting a really decent roster of fighters, the game lacks in some of the core components of its make-up. Now known for their ultra-realistic sports presentations, it’s a surprise how poorly developers 2K rendered the graphics here. It’s not only from an aesthetics standpoint that the game falters either, but its poorly implemented gameplay too.
Fighters circle each other sluggishly, the controls are unresponsive, and the collision detection system is deeply flawed. All in all it’s a very clunky title that fails to land many successful blows despite its attempts. ‘Let’s get ready to fumble’ more like.
7 This Seems Wrong
Oh dear, oh dear. The name alone is enough to have you thinking “this is going to be awful,” and you’d be right. Released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, and in 2011 for the DSiware, Animal Boxing pits you, the player, against some cute, furry animals. Wait, what?
That’s right. Unless you’re a cruel and sadistic person, there’s nothing about punching animals in a game that’s satisfying in the slightest. Worrying premise aside, the game also flounders in the gameplay department, basically consisting of tapping the screen again and again like a maniac.
Throw in the fact that the animals all sound the same, the backdrops get ridiculously repetitive, and the punch variety is as hollow as it gets, and you’ve got a game that should have just stayed down for the ten count before it even hit the shelves.
6 He's Had Better Games
You’d think ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ would get a video game that would do him justice, but it certainly didn’t come in the form of Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing. This PS2 exclusive just doesn’t get out of the gates at all when the bell rings.
With a scant selection of boxers, extremely limited replay value, and worst of all, some of the worst gameplay traits ever seen in a video game depiction of the sport–Mike Tyson Heavyweight Boxing is so bereft of ideas, that even playing as the man himself gets very boring very quickly.
It’s not some much ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ as it is arguably ‘The Baddest Boxing Game on the Planet.’ However, it gets worse as we head into the top five–and Mr. Tyson isn’t out of the woods just yet either…
5 Another Failed Game By One Of The Greats
That’s right, Mike Tyson Boxing is (somehow) even worse than the aforementioned title–and that’s bad news for us all. Released just two years earlier for the PS1, Mike Tyson Boxing is riddled with errors from top to bottom.
The game has unresponsive controls, dated visuals, poor rendering, useless multiplayer, lacklustre presentation, and repetitive gameplay… but hey, apart from those things, it’s awesome! Totally worth it if you want a game that fails to deliver on any of the things people want in a good boxing game.
With games like Knockout Kings and Ready 2 Rumble out at the time, you’d have to be the biggest Mike Tyson fan ever to choose this over those two stellar boxing simulations. We’re calling a stoppage on this one–and you will too after about five minutes of game time.
4 Before He Was Known For Grilling...
At least some of the rubbish games on this list have a distinct style and character. Well meet George Foreman’s KO Boxing–a game that is just comfortable to be a clone of the much better Punch-Out!!
This 1992 game for the SNES and Sega Mega Drive doesn’t do anything to forge its own path, but rather, borrows from its predecessors in a way that simply doesn’t work as cohesively as they did. On top of that, the gameplay is poorly implemented, and the graphics are downright ugly.
George Foreman was one of the all-time great boxers. Sadly, you wouldn’t know it by playing this sorry excuse of a boxing game. Buy the George Foreman grill instead–it’s much more useful than this offensively bad title.
3 We Wish We Could Give This Game A Final Blow
We kick of the top three entries with this absolute stinker that came out in 1988. Okay, so it’s pretty old but that’s no excuse for some of the horrible gameplay here. Final Blow fails to pack any sort of punch at all unfortunately.
You get to play as five very uninteresting fictional boxers (yay) in a quest for boxing dominance. Sadly, it’s littered with issues. For starters, the controls are mind-numbingly simple, consisting of two punch buttons and little else. Because of this, strategic fights are practically non-existent.
Then there’s the sub-par graphics, the useless multiplayer component, and the lack of game modes to contend with too. Make no mistake about it–Final Blow doesn’t even come close to landing a jab, never mind a final blow.
2 This Game's Not The King Of The Ring
This 1985 game from publishers Data East is rife with problems, featuring one that no other game on this list has: inappropriateness. Yes, but first let’s talk about why it’s also rubbish in the gameplay department.
Ring King is quite frankly a poor man’s Punch-Out!!, lacking the style and swagger of the latter title. Gameplay is slow, fighters are all practically the same, and the graphics are completely uninspired. You’d have to be a bit nihilistic to get any enjoyment out of this one.
Oh, and the dubious content mentioned earlier? Check out the corner boy between rounds when you need stamina. He gets down on his knees, moves his head in a peculiar motion, and… well, you get the idea…
1 When Motion Controls Fail
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been annoyingly referring to the modern classic Ready 2 Rumble a lot throughout this article, and that’s because it truly is a great example of how to successfully put a unique and over-the-top spin on a rather nuanced and mature sport. Sadly, the third in the series is the complete opposite to that trailblazing ethos.
Released for the Wii in 2009, Ready 2 Rumble: Revolution is deeply flawed in several areas of its design. The controls are absolutely dreadful, the graphics are really shoddy, and the sound is appallingly lacklustre. Seriously, take our word for it–the game sucks.
Put simply–this game is utterly atrocious. Buy any boxing game besides this one, or just stick to the far superior original–chances are you’ll have a better time with any of them compared to this mess.