History of boxing video games from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! to EA Sports Fight Night
For the first time since 2011, Undisputed brings boxing matches from the ring right into the palm of your hand. Developed by Steel City Interactive, the game aims to transform the gaming experience of the sport.
With the possibility of an early release to play (for now) on PC, it drew rave reviews. In Undisputed there are revolutionary footwork mechanics, a way to manage your stamina, more than 60 types of single punches, over 200+ licensed fighters, a career mode and, for the first time, a women’s division.
The game is an improvement over games that started in the late 70’s through 2011’s Fight Night Champion.
The simple improvements also make for some nostalgia for how far boxed video games have come since their inception.
MORE: Every retired boxer in new Undisputed video game
Here’s a brief history of some of the boxing games that helped revolutionize gaming. Which one do you remember?
video games for boxing
Heavyweight Champion (1976)
The black and white arcade game released by Sega is considered to be the first true boxing game. It featured hand-to-hand combat, a rarity at the time. The original version showed gameplay from the side view, but was later modified to show the view behind each player’s boxer.
Created by Atari, the game is one of the first created by Activision. With a top down view of two boxers, the only way to win was to land 100 punches or if the player with the most punches in two minutes was declared the winner.
MORE: Undisputed makes history with playable women’s boxers
Punch out!! series
From 1984 to 2009, Nintendo released the Punch-Out!! Series. Originally played in arcades, the series was available on Nintendo systems and later Wii. The main antagonist was Little Mac, a 17-year-old who has been heralded as one of the top characters in gaming history.
1985 a sequel to the original Punch-Out!! came in the form of Super Punch-Out!! It was the first game with the “duck” train.
Things got interesting in 1987 when Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! was published. Little Mac battles through the World Video Boxing Association. In the end, Mac takes on Mike Tyson, who was then the Heavyweight Champion, in a “dream match”.
The final punch out!!! Game was brought to the Wii in 2009.
Ready 2 rumble series
Developed by Midway, Ready 2 Rumble had three versions and was produced in 3D, allowing more control over how your boxer moves. The game was available through PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color.
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Knockout Kings series
Ahead of Fight Night, EA Sports put together Knockout Kings.
Knockout Kings 1999 with 38 boxers was available on Playstation. Knockout Kings 2000 had 25 fighters on its roster including Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard. Creating a custom boxer was allowed, and there was a “Super Punch” option that allows you to instantly knock down an opponent for good.
Knockout Kings 2001 is considered to be one of the best boxing games on Playstation. Ali will be joined by Joe Frazier, Rocky Marciano and others. Players can also battle in iconic locations like Madison Square Garden. It is the first game that features women’s boxing and matchups with famous boxers from different eras.
Knockout Kings 2002 allowed players to use a real boxer in career mode. There are no female boxers in the game. This sequel featured Oscar De La Hoya, Butterbean and the Klitschko brothers. Knockout Kings 2003 was similar to 2002 but was only on GameCube.
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Fight Night series
The latest boxed video game series presented some of the best gaming experiences out there. Fight Night was available for PS2, Xbox Xbox 360 and PS3 (for Round 3).
Fight Night 2004 is produced by EA Sports and is considered a real classic. It featured Total Punch Control and a career mode. Fight Night Round 2 in 2005 featured Little Mac from Punch-Out!!! Fight Night rounds 3 and 4 followed.
Fight Night Champion in 2011 changed the game. A darker version whose story revolved around Andre Bishop, a boxer serving time in a correctional facility. The new direction was well received. The game had a clean but dark look, adapting it to the modern gamer.