Throwback Thursday: Ready 2 Rumble Boxing – The Dreamcast’s One-Two Punch
On September 8, 1999, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing released for the Sega Dreamcast. The console being built on the success of Sonic and Soul Calibur, developer Midway opted for another over-the-top experience in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing. The arcade-style sports game was much in the vein of Nintendo’s Punch Out, with fans and critics appreciating the title’s bright, tongue-in-cheek humor and fast-paced fighting style.
Having done so with Mortal Kombat, Midway was known for creating games for the arcade and later adapting them for the home market. However, the advent of the comparably advanced Dreamcast hardware convinced the developer to finally make their first direct-to-home title. Envisioning a new boxing title, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing would forego the Madden NFL series’ route of realism, instead focusing on an experience akin to the over-exaggerated NFL Blitz games.
The title “Ready 2 Rumble” comes direct from prolific ring announcer Michael Buffer, who lends his likeness and “Let’s get ready to rumble!” catchphrase to the game. Even before the game was announced, Buffer had been openly searching for a unique boxing game to lend his talents, and became excited upon learning of Midway’s over-the-top project. Though Buffer’s voice is present, he requested not to appear as a fighter, as he’s never considered himself more than a voice to the action.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing sports a roster of sixteen boxers, each with their own signature look and fight styles. Colorful personalities such as the legend Boris “The Bear” Knokimov, the lethal Selene Strike, and the old timey “Big” Willie Johnson are a few standouts of the bunch, but the audacious character of Afro Thunder is widely considered to be the most recognizable. Each character not only delivers the pain via punches, but also in the form of trash-talk hurled throughout a given match.
Players’ goal in Ready 2 Rumble Boxing is to strategically dodge and pummel opponents until only one fighter is left standing. Adding a bit more depth to the button-mash combat is the “RUMBLE” meter, which fills up one letter at a time following particularly well-executed hits. After “spelling” the full word, players can activate the “Rumble Flurry,” a devastating combo that unloads a series of damage-heavy punches.
Ready 2 Rumble presented a few unique elements seldom seen in games at the time. Gradually-appearing bumps and bruises were a standout detail during especially brutal match-ups, as was a constant 60 frames per second. The Game Boy Color port of the game also presented a unique innovation, as it was one of the few handheld titles to to utilize a rumble feature built into the cartridge.
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing was followed by two sequels, the latest one releasing in 2009 exclusively for the Wii. The second game, Round 2, expanded to a greater number of consoles and also widened the fight roster to include popular celebrities such as basketballer Shaquille O’Neal and musician Michael Jackson. Then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton also make an appearance in the boxing game roster, mirroring their presence in fellow sports game NBA Jam.
For a short time, a Ready 2 Rumble Wrestling spin-off was believed to be in the works, aiming to take advantage of the of the growing professional wrestling scene at the time. While this project never came to fruition, we’d get a taste of this idea in Midway’s 2008 wrestling title TNA Impact!, where Afro Thunder cameos as an unlockable character.
What’s your opinion of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! Also, be on the lookout for the next Throwback Thursday where we’ll highlight yet another title from gaming past. For entries from previous weeks, check out these next few links below:
Eric Hall1836 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his weekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.