Mike Tyson Boxing
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| Mike Tyson Boxing

Whilst there are undoubtedly some people out there who enjoy the relentless brutality of 12 rounds of toe-to-toe slugging and the resultant debate over a points decision, most of us, quite frankly, want to see our contests ended by a nice, clean knockout. There's a wonderful clarity to the good old KO and the anticipation leading up towards the fateful blow is surely where the genuine joy of boxing lies. What slightly distracts from this joy, however, is when the knockout punch is delivered within the first 60 seconds, and herein lies the central problem with Mike Tyson Boxing.

Whilst the game bills the big fight perfectly, with smart visuals (you view the action from behind Tyson and can move around a 3D ring), a really solid control system allowing for different punches of varying weights, and even a funky little training mode (using memory games and reaction tests to increase stats), when you actually get into the ring to duke it out, it becomes immediately clear that there's been a bit of a mismatch. Despite being billed at a lowly number 7 in the world rankings with stamina, speed and power stats to match, if you have 2-hands free for your phone and adopt a direct style (i.e. just keep hitting 'im Frank!) virtually all comers can be knocked over in the requisite 3 times within a single 60 second round and mainly using jabs. Indeed, despite a couple of retaliatory knockdowns and a slightly closer squeeze with the top 2, that's exactly what happened en route to our first world title in 'career mode'. Whilst this may well be a pretty accurate representation of Mike's early form and it doesn't stem the short-term fun too much (we all like winning right!), it's not exactly true-to-life recently and, more importantly, it doesn't make for a very enthralling long-term challenge.

What makes this all the more annoying is that the fundamental control system is so well conceived. The joypad moves Mike around, the 1,4,7 and 3,6,9 keys allow you to land jabs, hooks or body shots with either hand (you can even vary the power by holding the button down to let the punch build up – at the risk of being hit in the meantime) and the little impact flashes on screen make it clear who's connected with who.

Sadly, even cutting back on the round-lengths doesn't matter, as although this will stop or slow-down the knock-outs, you'll still see yourself assuming prominence thanks to a really smart points-indicator bar at the top of the screen. Perhaps the problem could be averted to some degree if you could select to be another boxer, maybe an unknown – but you can't. Hence, to really challenge yourself here you must either refuse to train to increase your stats for later boxers, commit yourself to a realistic boxing style, play the game on a handset with awkward key placement or simply fight with one arm behind your back. Whilst the latter might be in-keeping with Tyson's bravado and even potentially more suited to games played on public transport, it's hardly Queensbury rules to have to hamper your own performance!

Mike Tyson Boxing

Just like Iron Mike himself, the game is undoubtedly world-class but has a fundamental flaw
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