Rated PG-18 - Ring King
With all the various genres of games in existence today, there is a definite lack in the number of quality titles in particular areas, especially as they relate to sports. For example, there are only a handful of remotely decent games focusing on tennis, and possibly none focusing on badminton or full-contact lesbian catfighting (although the Dead or Alive series comes close to addressing the latter). Another underserved genre, surprisingly enough, is boxing. I suppose that could be a result of the sheer number of games where guys attack each other with ridiculously outrageous flying kicks and fireballs, not to mention the concept of guys getting their spine torn out or being beaten to death with their own severed limbs. Honestly, after developers came up with the idea of ninjas harpooning their opponent's chest or pulling their own faces off and incinerating them, I can understand why video boxing hasn't caught on as much as it could have. In fact, when you think of classic boxing titles, there's a chance you won't bother thinking past the arcade or NES Punch-Out!! games, as well as the classic Intellivision Boxing. Nevertheless, there are definitely some other overlooked boxing titles out there. In fact, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! wasn't even the only NES boxing game released in 1987. That same year, another very underrated title crept past many gamers who didn't respect the concept of pure 2-player boxing simulation or fighters who look a lot like Gabe Kotter. A game where the sex lives of boxers were not only public knowledge, but also left to hang out right in their respective corners EACH ROUND. A game so perfect and complete that the developers didn't need to bother with more than one character model. As far as boxing games go, this one remains the undisputed king...
Not shown: boxing gloves and exposed penis.
Developed by Namco and released by Data East in 1987, Ring King, known as Family Boxing in Japan (if that doesn't make you proud to be an American, I don't know what will), took the idea of competitive boxing simulation and brutally killed its opponents in the ring while smugly declaring itself unbeatable. The story is so deep and engaging that you'll play for hours just to see what happens with the main character's personal life. Can you beat the odds and win the love of your life forever?
Actually, fuck that. Here's the real deal. You are Player 1, an enthusiastic, strapping young lad with all the athleticism, looks and charm of a serial rapist. To be fair, that seems to be all the Ring King boxing league consists of. In fact, every single fighter looks to be an exact clone of one another, with some slight differences in skin tone and hair color. Player 1 has his work cut out for him if he is to rise to the top of the rankings, as there are other hungry competitors in the Training Gym such as A. Madman, S. Ropes, C. Rocky and G. Gerry, among others. It's sort of like one of those bank camps where everybody has the auspicious and downright snobbish first initial, only adjusted to make sure everybody looks like a '70s blaxploitation movie star and could potentially be the guy you remember from prison in a not so pleasant way.
We'll see how A. Madman fares against A. Hole.
Eventually, Player 1 will train himself to compete for the Rookie, U.S., and World titles, but the going will NOT be easy. The gameplay is challenging to the point of spousal abuse, especially in the early going, which is why a great deal of strategy will be required. Your fighter starts with 9 Power Points, which may be distributed to any of the categories related to speed, power, or stamina. Fighting through the Training Gym will allow you to eventually increase your maximum Points, allowing for 99 in total, and often the fans will throw Point icons into the ring in the middle of a fight. The gameplay system is very similar in nature to a standard RPG, but your opponents will almost always be a step or two ahead of you, which is why it is vital to adjust accordingly and create mismatches in certain areas. For example, even if your opponent has more overall Power Points and is far superior in punch strength, you can adjust to make yourself faster and last longer to win a decision. Very few boxing titles, including present day, even come close to matching its overall depth.
Even though the gameplay is awesome and the storyline is as deep as I ever want in an NES game, the real selling point of Ring King is the graphics. You couldn't possibly ask for more than this game gives you: white man afros, black man afros, a boxing ring, a referee who occasionally shows up to make the count, blowjobs, fans who appear to be nothing more than disembodied bobbing heads, the works. There are all sorts of creative color schemes for the character model and boxing ring, and the fighters' faces contort in disturbing ways with each blow.
A. Madman cleverly blocks the left jab with his face.
Whoa, whoa, wait a minute, hold on. Let's go back a step. Blowjobs? That's right. It's actually pretty common knowledge on the internet at this point, but this phenomenon deserves as much attention as possible. Between rounds, the fighters get a boost in energy and overall willingness to fight in the most obviously helpful way possible. Don't tell me you wouldn't be dying to go another round with that guarantee. I don't care if you're a paraplegic and you have to fight a dinosaur, you're going to get the Eye of the Tiger with that in your mind. The only drawbacks are that the actual process of regaining energy requires an intensity of button mashing that might drain your real life energy, and that the oral sex seems to be administered by midgets or possibly Oompaloompas, and it's difficult to determine their sex from the angle given. In any case, they sure don't seem to attractive to me, which only serves to further enforce my suspicions of the prison mentality on the part of the Ring King boxers. Still, I think this is a fascinating idea for boxing and mixed martial arts to consider. I don't know how much they pay the ring girls in these sports, but there's no way you would ever have to worry about signing new fighting talent by adding a little something to the girls' job description. Since there's a good chance they're already doing that after the fights anyway, you might as well formalize it a bit.
The music in this game is some of the best on the NES if you're an amnesiac with ADD. The main theme consists of the same 9 or so seconds of disco beats looped over and over. It's a great way to work on your nightclub moves if you ever get bored and decide not to practice boxing that day. In fact, since you've already got an NES hooked up, you might as well plug in the Power Pad and pretend you're accomplishing something when you bounce up and down while your opponent smashes your face in.
Ring King is probably the single deepest 2-player boxing experience on a game console to this very day, and is one of the most overlooked titles in existence. Go find it while I run that ring girl idea by the local boxing commission.
YOUNG CHILD: "Daddy, what's going on?"
FATHER: "Son, have I told you about how babies are made? Let's watch Cinemax tonight."