Floats like an anchor, stings like an moth

The Champ logo

WHILE the game loaded I read through the manual, which has an introduction so pseudo-intellectual that it may well make it into Private Eye's Pseud's corner.
It explains the story and rules of boxing - the game is endorsed by the WBA, incidentally - going into detail to such an extent that it reminds you that referees must keep their fingernails cut short for safety. It also explains the nine fouls, although none of them can be reproduced within the game.

Once loaded you are presented with a menu from which you can select one or two players, Taining, Highscore Table, Show Wolrd (sic) Ranking, Create a data disc, Reset the World Ranking (spelled correctly this time), Sparring and Start Game.

You enter into a bout of sparring to practice the moves. The joystick is used in a similar way to other combat games. The boxer can move left or right, defend his head, stomach and chest, plus he can dance. This involves jumping up and down on the spot, rather than doing the Paso Doble.

With Fire depressed you can produce hooks, straight punches, stomach punches and the ominous-sounding killer punch, which is rather like a fast cricket underarm bowl, continuing the motion through to end up with your fist under your opponent's chin.
Best of all is the clinch, which results in both boxers grabbing each other in a passionate embrace which almost certainly falls on the wrong side of Clause 28.
You score for each successful punch, although you're never really sure what your score is because the score baord is so difficult to read.

Each player has a morale and condition factor which decrease as each successful punch rings home. IF they reach zero the boxer falls to the ground and is out for the count.
Although I managed to knock my opponent down 17 times in the first round - why didn't the ref stop the fight? - I lost because the opponent wore me down with a succession of puny little punchettes.

Following a knockout you are treated to a nicely executed TV-style action replay, complete with "motion blur" effect as the boxer crashes to the canvas.
The action replay isn't the only good thing in The Champ. The referee darts about authentically getting in the way - unfortunately you can't punch him - and when a boxer is pushed up against the ropes, the ropes wobble nicely.

The sound effects are quite good. The referee says lots of referee-type things like "One, Two, Three, Four..." and as punches connect they sound just as artificial as they do in the movies.
Obvious effects like the end-of-round bell are missing. And the music is dreadful. The box proudly proclaims the fact that the game contains the theme from Rocky. It is so appallingly arranged that it would be a positive advantage to have a bad case of cauliflower ears.

As well as the boxing matches themselves, you can take a trip down to the gym for some training. This involves skipping and having a go at the punch bag.

All in all, what could have been a perfectly good boxing simulation has turned out as something positively mediocre.

The moves all work in the way described in the manual, but boxing is a sport of lightning fast reactions, putting together a series of orchestrated punches - Bill Conti said that, not I - and the game's response time to my energetic joystick wiggles was frankly not fast enough to give an real impression of a boxing match.
You feel the game is waiting to catch up with you all the time.

The Champ logo

LINEL £24.95 joystick

This one or two player boxing game, endorsed by the World Boxing Council, pits the player against twelve opponents in an attempt to become the Champion of the World.

Before you get the chance to go for the title, you'll have to prove yourself by taking on lesser opponents, and to defeat them you'll have to undergo training in the gym.
There are three training routines: skipping, punch-bag and punch-ball. During the fight you have a total of eleven defensive and offensive moves, and the idea is to hit your opponent enough times to either knock him out (reduce his energy bar at the top of the screen to zero) or to score more points than him by the simple ruse of landing more hits.

Each opponent has a different style of boxing, so it takes a while to learn which moves each is more susceptible to, but even so it's not an impressive game. The gameplay is as poor as the animation, and it offers nothing new to the genre.

The Champ logo


It would be far too easy to say that Linel's latest offering takes more than a slight leaf from the Rocky movie. Music by Bill Conti, it says on the intro screen. Bet you can't guess what they used for an intro soundtrack? The intro sequence is, as ever with Linel products, impressive with a sampled master of ceremonies introduction.

To start off with, you aren't the champ. The idea is to become the champ. Easy enough. You start life as a bum (that's tramp to us English folk). Fighting in the streets, resplendent in your pro-boxing gear. Win a couple of fights, and you get spotted by a manager, who signs you up and automatically puts you onto the professional circuit - after a bit of training of course.

Training is made up of three events. First is the skipping rope, where you have to make the boxer jump in time with the rope. Then there's the sandbag, where a sparring partner will show you a punch or two, and you have to match his punches. Finally there's the speedball, where you have to waggle the joystick in time with the boxers hands, keeping up a steady rhythm.

The Champ is polished, it's amazingly professional and full of brilliant little touches. The referee counts out the knockdowns, the boxers fight realistically, the soundtrack is brilliant, and the graphics are amazing.

However The Champ takes a dive in the first because of its poor gameplay. For a start half the punches only seem to work half the time and secondly, the game is far too easy. What sort of challenge is there if your opponent keeps on falling? Boxing is a tough game to simulate and Linel haven't overcome that.

And that's what stops The Champ from being a champ. It plays so badly that suddenly the sparkly bits don't seem so sparkly anymore.

The Champ logo

Linel, Amiga £24.99

Boxing causes brain damage? I dunno what you mean 'Arry. It's an art, a sort of ballet with knockouts. At least you won't get hurt playing Linel's version of the 'gentlemanly' sport. You are a young fighter on being WBC champion. To achieve this you'll need to beat the existing champion. But he won't fight you straight away, so you must defeat a number of lesser opponents before you get a title shot. After a couple of backstreet fights you're spotted by a manager who will train you in the gym with the sandbag, punchbag and skipping rope. How well you do here determines your 'condition' for the next fight.

During a bout the boxer is controlled in typical beat-'em up style and can win either by a knockout (reducing the opponent's energy level to zero) or on points.

Phil King After taking such a long time to appear The Champ comes as something of a disappointment. I was hoping for a detailed simulation but this is really just an everyday beat-'em-up with hardly any strategy attached to it. I also found it far too easy to become world champion by repetitive use of a couple of moves.
Paul Rand Why is it that everyone hates this game except me? Granted, for most of the time the gameplay is short on variety and doesn't take too long to master, but that's boxing all round, isn't it? The Champ is an admirably presented piece of software, although some of the features of boxing are missing - where are the dirty tactics?! 25 quid is also a bit steep but The Champ may be of some interest to well-off boxing fans.