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Showtime Championship Boxing Box Art
GENRE
Sports
DEVELOPER
Nikitova Games
PUBLISHER
Destination Software, Inc. (DSI)
NUMBER OF PLAYERS
1-2
WI-FI ENHANCED
No
DS COMPATIBLE
No
BUY NOW AT

Showtime Championship Boxing

Destination Software, Inc. (DSI) has made a business out of marrying big name licenses with budget-priced software. Showtime Championship Boxing is the latest in this line, throwing the cable channel’s famous boxing series into a budgetware title developed by an outsourcing game developer. The end result is exactly what seasoned gamers probably feared would happen -- namely, a train wreck of a game that looks terrible, plays terrible, and is worth a whole lot less than any budget price tag.

visuals

The graphics are a special kind of awful, made all the worse by the dirty trick the game’s opening FMV plays. The introductory cinematic is a rather nice-looking CG rendering of powerful boxers squaring off in front of a frenzied crowd. Then the other shoe drops, and in a classic bait-and-switch Showtime suddenly turns into a boxing sim straight out of 1999.

The in-game graphics engine is nothing short of atrocious, with character models that are so poorly detailed that they are painful to look at. A blow to the head makes a boxer’s head rattle like a bobblehead, while choppy animation makes every move look like a bad 1980s Saturday morning cartoon. The anemic, jaggy, bikini-clad card girl is one of the most unsightly uses of “suggestive themes” one will ever see in a game. Visual hit detection is suspect, realistic footwork is nonexistent, and the crowd looks abominable. To add insult to injury, there is an annoying load time between every round. In contrast to the clean look and flashy style of Wii Sports boxing -- or even the odd charm of DSI’s own Chicken Shoot -- this game is a dull, uninspired mess.

audio

Like the graphics, the sound opens with promise. The opening CG sequence features an atmospheric, epic theme. Sadly, that opening gives way to music that is mediocre and repetitive. Sound effects are equally bad, with each fighter saddled with pedestrian grunts and groans that constantly recycle. Crowd noise is unresponsive, even when one boxer is beating another senseless.

gameplay

The game features a basic selection of modes, including a single-bout, a few belt circuits and a two-player mode. Each of the modes has some degree of customization, including boxer selection, number of rounds and shorts color. Overall, the package is probably good for a several hours of gameplay, assuming a player chooses to endure the game for that long.

Choosing a boxer seems to be little more than window dressing. While the playable characters vary in terms of look, they all seem to play more or less identically. Sorry, folks -- you can’t create a custom character. This makes one of the major objectives of the game -- unlocking new characters -- a superfluous exercise. It also takes a lot of wind out of the various belt circuits.

Once in the ring, each fighter has two bars -- a health bar and a fatigue meter. The health bar is depleted with each taken hit but also slowly regenerates over time, while the fatigue meter is depleted with each swing but also regenerates. The health bar feels woefully unrealistic, as a beat-up fighter will return to full form at the beginning of the next round. For example, we knocked down a fighter down twice and beat him to within an inch of his life in the course of a single round, only to find him at 90% strength at the start of the next round. Even the NES classic Punch-Out!! was more realistic.

Showtime relies heavily on motion as part of its boxing mechanic. The Wii Remote and Nunchuck are held in hand as the right and left hands, somewhat like Wii Sports boxing. A flick of the Wii remote or Nunchuck punches with the right or left hand, respectively. The type of punch thrown is context-sensitive, with different punches depending on whether the Wii remote and Nunchuck are held up, down or leaning toward the side. In addition, holding down the B button or Z button charges up a more powerful attack that consumes more fatigue. Moving around is effected with the analog stick.

Unfortunately, while the controls look ambitious on paper, they do not work well in practice. Motion detection is inconsistent, as often the game will fail to register punches from either hand. Hit detection is spotty, as is the effectiveness of defending blows. In the end, most people will resort to mindless swinging punctuated by pauses to refill the fatigue meter.

multiplayer

Showtime supports two-player sparring matches. Rather than employing a split-screen, the first player fights in the foreground while the second player fights in the background. It works, notwithstanding the bevy of aforementioned gameplay problems. There is no online play.

overall

DSI, along with Conspiracy Entertainment, has flooded the Wii market with budgetware titles that range from mediocre to awful. This game firmly falls into the latter. The graphics are horrifying, the sound is bland, the controls are unresponsive, the characters are superfluous, and the health and fatigue bars are poorly implemented. Given that Wii Sports boxing (or Punch-Out!!, for that matter) is better in almost every conceivable way, Showtime Championship Boxing has absolutely no business in your gaming library, not even for $20. Stay far away.



final score 2.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
Staff Profile | Email
"Round 1! Fight!"


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