Martial arts and video games have a long-running history.
Since the dawn of video gaming, martial arts has played a prominent role in our childhoods. From the 1976 black and white boxing game, Heavyweight Champ, to the 1984 hit, Kung Fu Master, and even the legendary franchise, Street Fighter, martial arts and video games have an undeniable admiration for one another.
Boxing video games, in particular, have been absolutely amazing throughout the years. The action and excitement, accurately captured with each button press. Memorable moments battling your friend on split-screen mode, or taking turns trying to beat the Final Boss, it’s all been good fun.
As technology advanced, so too did boxing video games. You’ll also be surprised at just how realistic it has become. For many, there isn’t a sport that translates better to video games than boxing.
If you grew up playing video games, chances are, you’ve run into at least one of the games on this list. These are arguably the best representations of the art of pugilism in video games.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five of the best boxing video games in history.
1) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (NES)
You can’t have a ‘best boxing video games in history’ list without mentioning Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! on the classic Nintendo Entertainment System 8-bit console. This little blockbuster was one of the best, most-talked-about video games of its time, providing gamers the perfect combination of fun gameplay and memorable graphics.
Players take the role of Little Mac, who rises through the ranks, defeating one colorful and wacky opponent after another, all the way to the end where legendary heavyweight world champion “Iron” Mike Tyson awaits.
Each opponent offered a tough challenge, and a unique way of beating them. Players have to use quick thinking, reflexes, and smarts in order to get past foes like Glass Joe, Piston Honda, and Soda Popinski.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! was one of the earliest representations of boxing in video games, albeit a bit cartoonish. Still, it introduced boxing as an exciting sport to all the little kiddie gamers in its era.
2) Knockout Kings 2000 (Nintendo 64)
Nintendo 64 was the console to have at the turn of the century. One of the best boxing video games in that time period was, of course, Knockout Kings 2000, developed by EA Sports. It was the sequel to the original Knockout Kings years prior, and improved in a lot of key areas.
Players had the option to choose from an amazing lineup of real-life pugilists past and present. From legendary fighters like “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Duran, and the GOAT Muhammad Ali, to superstars like Oscar De La Hoya, Lennox Lewis, and Erik Morales, the game had everyone you wanted to play as.
Knockout Kings 2000 featured a much faster pace than the original, with input lag between animations greatly reduced. Ring movement was also a lot more fluid, as you could let your fighter move much better in the ring compared to before, allowing the player to create angles just like in real life.
The game featured ring entrances, real-life arenas, boxer bios, and even training exercises. The advanced graphics at the time also helped make Knockout Kings 2000 much more authentic and realistic.
3) Victorious Boxers: Ippo’s Road to Glory (PS2)
While not based on real-life boxing, the Playstation 2’s Victorious Boxers was built around the popular Japanese boxing anime and manga, Hajime No Ippo. Surprisingly, it was able to capture the fast-paced action and adrenaline of the ‘real’ sweet science.
One thing Victorious Boxers had going for it was an extremely precise and responsive control scheme that simulated what it actually felt like moving in the ring.
The left analog stick was used to control your fighter’s upper-body movement and footwork. This was pressure sensitive, meaning the far back you pushed the analog stick, the more exaggerated your fighter’s movement. This allowed for players to be able to slip jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts.
Fans of the Japanese anime were also very happy to see their beloved characters, like Ippo Makunouchi, Ryuichi Hayami, Ryo Mashiba, Vorg Zangief, Kazuki Sanada, and Ryuhei Sawamura, among others.
4) Fight Night Round 4 (PS3)
The Playstation 3’s Fight Night Round 4 was a technological breakthrough, not just for boxing video games, but for video games in general. The game featured incredibly realistic Hi-Definition graphics and physics, and was at the time, the best boxing video game ever made.
Fight Night Round 4 was the fourth iteration in the popular Fight Night franchise, but it was hands down the most significant one. Though the control scheme remained largely the same from its predecessors, it was improved in all aspects.
Punches flew from all angles, with speed and power. Fighters moved flawlessly around the ring, with the bright lights of real-life arenas glistening off the realistic sweat on their bodies. Without a doubt, Fight Night Round 4 delivered the best pure boxing experience in a video game for its era.
The best part of it all was that players could see their favorite boxers come to life on screen, like Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and even legends like Muhammad Ali and Roberto Duran. This means you could also pit fighters from different eras against each other.
5) Creed: Rise to Glory (PS4/PSVR)
Last but certainly not least, is 2018’s Creed: Rise to Glory for the Playstation VR.
If you’re looking for a realistic simulation of what it feels like to actually box in the ring, look no further. Creed: Rise to Glory is the most realistic boxing video game of all time.
Released for the Playstation VR (Virtual Reality), players don the headgear, two PS Move controllers, and step into the “Rocky” universe. Based on the hit movie franchise, you could choose to play as Rocky himself, or as new movie protagonist Adonis Creed, or even Rocky’s classic foes such as Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, and Apollo Creed himself.
Hands down, the best part of the game is being able to experience boxing in VR. Training elements are present too, with players able to participate in heavy bag, double-ended bag, and other punching and movement drills.
Getting clobbered by Clubber Lang and subsequently knocked out in one round, in particular is such a horrifying experience. Even more so, finally being able to beat him is unforgettable.
Furthermore, it’s a great home workout and probably the closest you will get to boxing training without stepping into an actual boxing gym.
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