As the Dreamcast hit American shores on Sept 9, 1999, it came with a handful of memorable launch titles such as Ready 2 Rumble. The title is taken from the trademark call of legendary ring announcer, Michael Buffer (who is also featured in the game). As opposed to real boxers, it features gimmick characters with names more suited to pro wrestling such as Afro Thunder and “Big” Willy Johnson. However, some share physical and personality resemblances to real-life boxers. For example, Afro Thunder taunts like Ali and Tank Thrasher looks notably like Eric Butterbean Esch.
In this game, you can freely move around the ring as boxers have their own unique style and special moves. Some fighters utilize their size and others utilize their speed and agility. Many of the fighters have special moves you’d never see in actual boxing such as Superman punches, which are common in Mixed Martial Arts. With other boxers, they can use fouls such as head butts or unorthodox tactics like belly flops. For every punch landed, a boxer can fill up their rumble meter, which is similar to a super combo meter in 2D fighting games. Once that meter is filled up, the boxer can throw punches in bunches to knock their opponent down. While it is by no means a boxing simulator, it does give a novel experience that appeals to gamers who may not be fans of the sweet science and are just looking for some fun.
So what are some games that measure up to this iconic Dreamcast launch title? Read today’s top 6 to find out!
Similar Game to Ready 2 Rumble
1. Rocky: Legends
- System: PlayStation 2, XBox
- Publisher: UbiSoft
- Developer: Venom Games
- Release Dates: Sept 28, 2004
Kicking off this list is Rocky: Legends, the ultimate American story where you get to play not only as the Italian Stallion, but his other notable opponents such as Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago. While this game is based on the hit movie series, this game is full of colorful characters like in Ready 2 Rumble. In Clubber Lang’s story, you learn he was a boxer in prison, and his wild and crushing hooks are excellently portrayed in this game. Unfortunately, fans have to pity the fool who didn’t recast Mr. T for this game, but both games commonly share hilarious attempts at voice acting.
While the game is a little stiff compared to other boxing games, it does a good enough job to portray a fresh story and capture the spirit of the series. Just like in the movies, Rocky doesn’t have crisp technique but relies on brawling tactics by crushing the body. In addition to boxing in the ring, Rocky also fights on the streets as part of his background as a brawler. And in case you wanted to know, its uplifting theme song and most of its soundtrack are included in this game along with Apollo Creed’s WrestleMania-like ring entrance in Rocky IV. So if you want something that shares the spectacle of Ready 2 Rumble, Rocky: Legends has that but with its own flavor.
Rocky: Legends Trailer:
2. Fight Night Champion
- System: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
- Publisher: EA Sports
- Developer: EA Canada
- Release Dates: Mar 1, 2011
As opposed to gimmick characters, you can play as real-life boxers with Fight Night Champion. Not only do you get to match up against the likes of today’s heavyweights such as the Klitschko brothers and David Haye, you can go against heavyweight legends such as Frazier and Ali. So do you want to see Tyson vs. Ali? You can simulate it and see how it could possibly go down. In comparison to other regular mainstream sports games with their story modes, Fight Night Champion's goes gritty by having you play the role of a former prison boxer who must regain his glory as he must uncover corruption in the sport.
The game allows you to acquaint yourself with the ins and outs of the sweet science by using a jab, the simple but devastating one-two, bobbing and weaving for defense, and utilizing the range of each boxer. Heck, you can even clinch to save yourself from getting knocked out, or even try to sneak in a punch to the balls or a headbutt! In addition, it has a very effective counter system. If you slip your opponent’s punch, fire back with one of your own to either stun or put them down! In addition to the heavyweight division, you are free to play as other boxers from other weight classes such as Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Jake LaMotta. So if you want the ultimate boxing experience, Fight Night Champion is the game for you.
Fight Night Champion Trailer
3. Mocap Boxing
- System: Arcade
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami
- Release Dates: 2001
Along with Fight Night, Mocap Boxing gives a realistic take on boxing but to a different level. Long before VR boxing for the HTC Vive or Wii Boxing for that matter, there was Mocap Boxing for the arcade. In this game, you stand within an infrared sensor mat and hold two motion controllers that represent boxing gloves. As you play, it tells you what to do so it's easy to learn. If the game tells you to duck, you duck as fast as you can. If you hit the canvas, you hit two pads on the cabinet within the 10-count to get up. But if in the event you can hit the opponent, a circle will show up on the screen showing you how many times to punch that area.
As opposed to most games on this list, this game gives players the ability to physically feel as if they’re boxing. While the game isn’t full of gimmick characters with weird moves or trash talking of Ready 2 Rumble, it features some who look like some of the boxers who were popular during the time period such as Roy Jones, Jr., and others with crazy hairstyles that are more in tune with some legendary MMA fighters such as the Mohawk popularized by Chuck Liddell. The game is easy to pick up and a fun workout that will test your reflexes. So if you want to feel like you’re in the ring, Mocap Boxing is the perfect game for you.
Any Game Like Ready 2 Rumble?
4. Title Fight
- System: Arcade
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sega
- Release Dates: 1993
Another arcade boxing classic is Sega’s Title Fight. While the game is presented in a typical arcade cabinet, the joysticks are represented as boxing gloves and you maneuver them to throw punches or for defense. Despite the layout of the controls being two joysticks to represent the left and right hands, they are relatively easy to learn. Depending on the motion, you can do all punches in boxing such as a jab, straight, hook, and uppercut.
If you pull the joystick back and then thrust it forward, it can add more power. It even has dodging, slipping, and blocking for defense. Though it is not full of the strange moves in Ready 2 Rumble, it offers its own distinct cast of characters with their own looks that are both comical and at times menacing. So if you want a novel arcade experience of the old days, Title Fight is your game.
5. Hajime no Ippo 2: Victorious Road
- System: PlayStation 2
- Publisher: ESP Software
- Developer: New
- Release Dates: Jan 29, 2004
Based on the manga by Jyoji Morikawa, Hajime no Ippo 2 Victorious Road features a solid roster from the original manga such as Ippo, Miyata, and many others who were featured in the manga upon its release in 2004. Each character is the game is masterfully represented as they are in its source material. For Ippo, he utilizes Mike Tyson’s peek-a-boo stance and can use his Dempsey Roll. With Miyata, you can utilize his stick-and-move tactics and when necessary, finish with his devastating jolt counter. If you play as Sendo, you can use his smash to land a knockout. Or as Date with the proper timing, you can temporarily stop your opponent’s movement with a punch to the heart, which he has done in the manga.
The best quality of this game is its career mode, which is probably the deepest in any sports games. Through the career mode known as boxer’s road, you create a boxer from scratch and he can train at a number of gyms around the world (notably Japan, Korea, Thailand, the UK and the US). In the career mode, you also manage your boxer’s diet and training routine. You are free to change weight classes (from 105 pounds to 190 pounds) but you must change the boxer’s diet and routine in order to make weight, but it can also affect his in-ring performance.
This game is the perfect balance of the realism of boxing (which the manga also is loved for) and the gimmicks of Ready 2 Rumble (by staying true to its manga origins). Most of the game’s comedy is appropriately portrayed through Aoki and Takamura. Aoki’s Frog Punch and his look away are included in the game, and you can even assign them to your create-a-boxer, while Takamura’s ineffective look away is included as well (and like in the manga, it is useless).
6. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
- System: NES
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release Dates: v
Last, we cannot deny an all-time classic, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. In this game, you play as Little Mac, a rising undersized contender who fights through the open weight rankings in order to face Mike Tyson, who was the best boxer in the world upon this game’s release. Like in Ready 2 Rumble, the game consists of gimmicky but powerful and politically incorrect characters such as King Hippo, Piston Honda, Bald Bull, and Soda Popinski.
Putting aside its age and Tyson’s numerous scandals, the game still excellently holds up. It is easy to pick up and each opponent has a habit that you must exploit to guarantee a victory. For King Hippo, you wait for his mouth to open to punch and upon impact, his trunks will fall off and you can repeatedly hit his belly button until he’s down. But if he lands a punch on you, it’s lights out! Figuring out and exploiting the habits of the opponent is the challenge and fun of this game. It offers a sense of what a learning curve was like for its time and includes a sense of the psychology of boxing. But when you get to Tyson, his punching power in the game is as devastating as the real Tyson in his prime making him one of the hardest bosses in gaming. So if you want the original bizarre boxing game, Punch-Out is it.
Last, we’d like to make some honorable mentions to Wii Boxing, Wade Hixton’s Counter Punch, Boxing Mania: Ashita no Joe, and PunchMania: Hokuto no Ken. From an outside perspective, it is reasonable to think of boxing as a barbaric sport. But like other sports, boxing has a distinguishing cerebral appeal, and some of the games we listed showcase a balance between its visual and psychological qualities for fans and non-fans to enjoy. In some of these games, you just can’t come out swinging or it could backfire.
It’s as ridiculous and ineffective as button mashing in relation to traditional fighting games. You need to carefully plan how to use your boxer against another, and that’s true in the ring and with your controller. Sometimes, you need to feel out the opponent, formulate a plan and put the pressure on them. The fact that these games manage to capture those qualities is what makes them great.