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Knockout Kings 2000: For lightweights only

November 29, 1999
Web posted at: 1:08 p.m. EST (1808 GMT)

by Lou Grobious

Action Shots

(IDG) -- Boxing, that sweetest of sciences, requires a seamless combination of strength, speed, stamina, and skill. Knockout Kings 2000 might require finger strength and stamina, but it doesn't call for a whole lot of skill.

Mash and smash

At first glance, Knockout Kings 2000 appears to be quite a contender. The boxers actually look like their real life counterparts; if you pick Muhammad Ali, you won't mistake him for Sugar Ray Leonard. Al Albert and Sean O'Grady spit out some nice-sounding, if somewhat standard, pre-fight banter to get your juices flowing. And it's nice to hear from Judge, I mean Referee, Mills Lane.

Unfortunately, all your expectations come crashing to the canvas once the fighting actually starts. As you quickly discover, there will be no floating like a butterfly. It's more like trudging through molasses. The boxers move slowly, so weaving and bobbing aren't strategy options. Once the fists start flying, you'll discover that this is Button-Mashers' Paradise.


You can jab and throw some quick body blows to set up your haymaker. That's really more technique than you need. Furiously pushing buttons will get you a KO just as easily as a more measured approach. You might be less accurate, but you won't be any less bruising.

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If you want a little more variety than simple button pounding, you can throw in a signature combo using one of the C buttons. Ali's, when used properly, does some nice damage. However, the special combos take a little of your own health. It's nice to see some good combos thrown in among the jabs and crosses, but the bulk of the punishment is best handed out the old-fashioned way.

Unfortunately, the sound suffers from the same problem as the gameplay. The promising intros don't translate into good play-by-play. Crowd noise and forgettable music create some ambiance, but the sound is underwhelming overall.

Sweeter than Sugar

For its many weaknesses, Knockout Kings 2000 possesses some very redeeming qualities. You can fight as or against 25 of the greatest boxers of all time. Dance around the ring as Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, or Oscar De La Hoya. Slip on the gloves against Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Marvin Hagler or Shane Mosley. You can even be "The Greatest."

For those who think getting there is half the fun, you can create your own boxer and pit him against the 25 greats. Assign characteristics and fighting styles, train, and slug your way to the top. Trying to beat the best provides a little incentive and challenge.

Knockout Kings 2000 really shines when you fight a friend. Without the computer AI, button-mashing becomes a sport of champions. You get pummeled just as much as you dish it out, and the punches come fast and furious. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is only hours away, but you won't mind.

Good, but not great

Traditionally, good boxing games have been harder to find than honest ringside judges. Knockout Kings 2000 doesn't embarrass itself, but neither does it stand above the others, especially when compared to the cartoony fun of Ready 2 Rumble. There's a lot of flash and name recognition going on here, but this fighter doesn't have the iron will necessary to be a true champion.

Graphics: 4.0
The faces are nice, but the boxers' animations are too slow. Decent backgrounds keep the fights interesting.

Sound: 3.5
Middle of the road. It's mostly just crowd noise, grunts, and gloves meeting faces. Nothing stands out, but nothing interferes with the game, either.

Control: 2.5
You only need to press buttons quickly. But getting out of your opponent's way is nearly impossible. Even Sugar Ray Leonard moves slowly.

Fun Factor: 4.0
Playing on your own is pretty cool, but creating your own boxer or duking it out with a friend makes all the button mashing worthwhile.

Pro Tips

  • Keep the other guy off you by throwing jabs, especially when fighting a more powerful fighter.

  • If you get in close, quick body blows will wear down your opponent and set up a haymaker.

  • Don't get greedy. Throwing a bunch of haymakers may land a few at first but will open you up for a counter-attack.

  • Don't throw special combinations when your health is low. It wears you out almost as much as your opponent.

  • Push your opponent away if he's getting to you. You can't retreat out of a flurry of body blows any other way.

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