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Contender
Score: 79%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Company Not in System
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Sports (Boxing)/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:
Bright, colorful, and cartoony. Contender is in the arcade corner, a decidedly different approach from Electronic Arts’ boxing simulation, Knockout Kings. The boxers are represented fairly well (they are all fictional boxers in Contender), and even women can fight the men. The backgrounds are pretty plain and lame. But if you’re looking at them, you’re probably going to get your ass beat by the other boxer.

Gameplay:
Pick a boxer that best suits your style, jump into the ring, and toss bricks (that’s “street talk” for throwing punches) in a variety of Game Modes such as: Main Event, Exhibition, and Tournament. In the Main Event Mode, you choose your boxer, and slowly climb to the top of the championships (well, if you WIN, you will). Exhibition will let you hone your nose-breaking skills as you choose a beater and “beatee” (your boxer and your opponent). Tournament is for all the marbles. 32 random boxers bash it out in five separate rounds until only one is left standing (hopefully you).

Difficulty:
Choose from Rookie, Amateur, and Professional. Although, I felt that Contender’s difficulty was unbalanced. The game is pretty much a cakewalk until you get to the very last boxer. It doesn’t feel as though you are improving or learning, just steam rolling over boxers to get to the last guy.

Game Mechanics:
Contender is an arcade game. There are two punch buttons (head and body), two defense buttons (body and head), and a duck and weave button. In one of the lamest ideas I’ve come across in recent memory, every time you get knocked down, you are rewarded with a “Special” punch, which is like a knockout punch that is two to three times as powerful as your normal punches. So in effect, you are getting rewarded for having your ass beat. You can get slapped around the ring and still win by using a Super Punch. Another thing that is lacking is there is no way to create your own boxer like Knockout Kings. Character creation is a way to greatly improve the game’s appeal and replay value. Contender lets you customize an existing boxer and save it to a memory card, but you can’t create a character from scratch that looks like you, or your boss. So with Contender, you can’t beat up your “boss” after working a 12-hour day, coming home and spending six hours searching the Internet for low priced airline fares for him and his family. Sorry, did I say that out loud? Contender is a pretty good arcade boxer, but I would recommend renting it first before buying a copy.

-Glom, GameVortex Communications
AKA Pete Maher

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