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Black & Bruised Package Art
 GENRE
  Sports
 DEVELOPER
  Digital Fiction
 PUBLISHER
  Majesco Inc.
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-2
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Black & Bruised

[Ed. Note: Eric Mattei was actually raised by a pack of badgers in the wilderness of the Northwest Territories. He was discovered by Jeff Pearson on a staff-hunting expedition a few years back. Suffice it to say, his grasp of human conventions is still a little skewed. If you find yourself offended by his sudden, unexpected, and completely unrelated departures from reality into his twisted, badger-based, violent sexual fantasies, we highly encourage you to let him know at Eric@nintendojo.com. If he weren't so prolific, we'd have sent him back into the woods years ago.]

Majesco is rounding out into a solid publisher. From their initial efforts on the GameBoy they are now publishing a solid and diverse amount of product across all the consoles. After the dark, quasi porn “Bloodrayne”, Majesco has made a markedly distinct change of pace with their latest effort; Black and Bruised. Much like Zelda: Wind Waker, this game uses the Jet Set Radio inspired cel-shaded graphics which evoke a “Looney Tunes” feeling. While Zelda may have been a controversial title in which to apply this visual style, arcade boxing seems to fit the bill perfectly.

Black and Bruised has a lot more going for it than just it’s well-animated, cel-shaded breasts. There are some funny characters, a decent control scheme, six different play modes, and a bunch of power ups that add some over the top flare to the game. However, like Rocky before it, Black and Bruised does take a beating in some regards.

visuals

After Sega’s revolutionary roller-blading/graffiti Jet Set series, a lot of companies have jumped on the cel-shaded bandwagon. Even Capcom used the visual approach to create a stunning racer; Auto Modellista. When challenged to create a unique boxer amidst the likes of Knockout Kings, Rocky and others, developer Digital Fiction decided to go with cel-shading. The approach has paid off as this game looks really cool; the visual style compliments the arcade feel of the game well. It really does feel as if you’re playing a cartoon.

The camera does seem to get a little lost in all the action. Sometimes it takes a bit too long to swing around when the action moves around the ring. I can see the compromise with which Digital fiction was faced: use a camera that jitters around the action and doesn’t miss anything or slow the speed of the camera movement down a bit and allow it time to respond and not disorient the player. This problem could have been avoided entirely if they would have pulled the camera back a little further so that as much camera movement wasn’t required. The compromise in this scenario is that you wouldn’t see as much of the detail in the faces and that would be a loss. Crap, I’m confused. I should’ve just used stock reviewer comment number 2 here: “the camera seems to need work as it gets lost at times.” Forget my metaphysical camera discourse. Suffice it to say it could’ve been executed a little more gooder. HA!

All in all, the presentation, in-game graphics, menus, and all other visual components in the game come together in a solid looking arcade title that defies the standard convention of boxing games (in a good way).

audio

While John Williams hasn’t inspired the soundtrack here, you will find some decent audio work. Some of the quips that the combatants fire at each other are downright funny! Also, you’ll find that the music for the 21 different arenas is unique to each environment. Once again, the sad thing here is that the ratio for visuals to audio is way too skewed towards the visuals. In the same way that your senses operate in unison and balance to tell you what your environment is doing to you, developers should put more balance into their development of audio and visual.

It would have been nice to hear some more ambient effects, like jeers from the crowd, as well as better realized sound effects. While everything is competent in Black and Bruised, if you compare it to THE standard for audio work, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, this game could use more audio effort.

Keep in mind that the audio is functional and the voice acting is excellent. I’m not saying that the audio detracts from the game. In reality, the audio works well here. What I’m suggesting, as I always have, is that incredible audio can raise a game to a whole new level. Think of having your girl undress in front of you, sure, she looks great but when she mixes in a dirty-voiced comment like “You want me don’t you... come and get me tiger”, well let's just say that her added audio component takes the experience to a whole new level. [Ed. Note: See? Badgers. Please reverse gender as appropriate.]

gameplay

There’s an interesting level of control options here. Like Rocky, there are a standard set of punches that are modified using another button. For example, you can either throw a straight punch or a hook depending on what you press alongside the R-button. Also, you can combine several straights, hooks and uppercuts to tag together combos. The problem here is that when you get into the gameplay, the game moves too quickly to flesh out these combos as a player. In fact, I find it impossible to execute a proper combo. Rather, most times I’m reduced to mashing buttons. While the game intimates a deep control depth via combos and control layout, in reality, the game falls short as it doesn’t allow you an opportunity to properly enjoy the excellent work that Digital Fiction put into the control scheme.

Like any sports game there’s offense and there is defense. Boxing is no different. The problem with Black and Bruised defense is that it really boils down to a guessing game of whether the opponent is going high or low and when he’s going to punch you. Subsequently, you can’t really defend yourself that well. This becomes fairly annoying as you delve into the game.

There are a lot of great gameplay modes to play through, but unless you like the frenetic button mashing approach to games, you may become tired of the game a little too quickly.

multiplayer

Multiplayer provides a lot of versatility.

With the spouse: Arguing about whether or not the in-laws should sleep over this weekend? Don’t spend the night in jail, fire up the ol’ Cube and pummel them digitally and without legal repercussions. Why not put something on the line here too. Like if they lose, you get to nail their best friend and if you lose, you get to nail their best friend! [Ed. Note: Remember! Eric@nintendojo.com. Do your part, people!]

With friends: Ah yes, nothing says—I’m a loyal and loving friend like screaming “You son of piece of Llama excrement! All you did was mash buttons and cheese me off. Now fight fair... It’s like when you punk off and go for it on fourth down in Madden all the time... you know what, forget it... I nailed your sister, you hack! [Ed. note: When Eric says this to you, punch him, because he probably actually did.]

With family: For our E rated age group of readers, Mom and Dad won’t cough up more allowance? No problem, take your GameCube with Black and Bruised in it and beat them with it, then, when they have the “dazed” effect around their heads, take their wallets. [Ed. Note: Assaulting parents is mean and very illegal. Even in Canada. Don't do it. Besides, you'd ruin your Gamecube]

overall

Black and Bruised is a title that both visually and sonically communicates a cool arcade experience. The issue that arises here is that it falls short in the gameplay department. While the game has a bunch of play modes and a lot of cool things to learn, the ultimate experience of the game is one of a button masher. Black and Bruised is still a fun arcade title; you should check it out and see if it's for you.

final score 6.8/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
Staff Profile | Email
"Lost like tears in rain"


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