Friday 25 March 2016

Toughman Contest (32X review)

Developer: High Score Productions, Visual Concepts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: 1995

Toughman Contest is a boxing game that features the infamous Eric 'Butterbean' Esch on the cover.

The three modes are an Exhibition, a Tough Man Contest (four competitions in a Mill, La Cantina, Roman Coliseum and Imperial Palace) and Customisable Tournament (for 2, 4 or 8 fighters). A total of 24 fighters are available to select and each bout consists of three one-minute rounds. On Defense you can block, duck and dodge, while on Offense your basic attacks are jabs, hooks and uppercuts; however, before each fight you can select three Power Punches (out of a total of 14) such as Haymakers and Windmill Wind-Up that do massive damage if you manage to connect. The action is viewed from behind your wireframe character and the key to succeeding is to mix things up and counterpunch. However, the action is so fast that it's difficult to see your opponent's shots coming; as a result you'll barely have any time to duck or block so taking damage is inevitable. Occasionally your boxer will throw a punch and then pause at the end of his motion as if striking a pose; it's weird and leaves you completely open to attack! It's also possible to take shots after the bell which is extremely cheap! The rounds finish so quickly that most fights end up going to the judges decision which is unsatisfying. I do like the ability to customise your Power Punches though as it encourages you to try out different attacks to find your favourite. There's also a cool instant replay option and a password system to pick up where you left off. Unfortunately the rest of the presentation is poor as decisions are presented by nothing except text and the crowd don't even bother responding to the winner! 
Toughman Contest had the makings of a fun boxing game but it's confused as to whether it wants to be an Arcade or simulation title. While the gameplay is woeful perhaps its biggest issue is its lack of personality and charm, and in my opinion you're much better off playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (1987, NES) instead.
Random trivia: The game was also released on the Sega Mega Drive in 1995.

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