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Ready 2 Rumble:
Round 2

Preview By: Siou Choy

Developer:   Midway
Publisher:   Midway
Genre:   Boxing
Est. Release:   June 11th, 2001
Posted:   4-26-01

Boxing fans itching to take on the best in the virtual fighting arena won't have long to wait. Midway's Ready 2 Rumble: Round 2 will be a launch game for the Game Boy Advance when the system makes its North American debut on June 11.

Most of the fan favorites like Afro Thunder, Angel "Raging" Rivera, and Lulu Valentine are back for another go, but longtime series fans will be surprised to find Butcher Brown and Boris Knockimov conspicuous by their absence. All told, there will be 11 boxers available for selection, which number includes the expected (if somewhat diminished) allotment of hidden characters.

Of course the game wouldn't be complete without the voice of Michael Buffer, that guy who somehow got 15 minutes of fame out of bellowing "let's get ready to rumble!" before most heavyweight championship title bouts. As a special treat, the GBA version also includes a playable character called, none too creatively, "rumble man", who bears more than a passing resemblance both physically and vocally to the aforementioned Mr. Buffer. Doubtless, this should prove to be a real draw for those whose regular haunts include such highbrow entertainment functions as the car shows and monster truck rallies he frequents in a semi-professional capacity.

Naturally, the GBA's take on R2R will include the rumble feature made popular in the Dreamcast and Playstation 2 versions. To unleash a series of special moves the player needs to build up their "rumble meter", which increases every time their fighter lands punches on their opponent. Once the rumble meter is full, the gamer has to hit the "shoulder" buttons simultaneously to unleash a flurry of nigh-unstoppable blows. Contrarily, the stamina meter also plays an important role in the game, with levels shrinking after each punch is thrown. This results in a fatigued condition marked by a slowdown in speed which makes combinations of punches significantly more difficult to execute.

The standard arcade, championship, and survival modes will be available in the GBA version as well. In arcade mode, you select a boxer and square off against randomly selected opponents. Championship mode provides you with the opportunity to rise in ranks and build up your boxer by facing a predetermined series of increasingly difficult opponents on the R2R circuit. Mini-games between each match allow you to increase the stats of your fighter. Lastly, survival mode gives you the chance to see how many fights you can get through on a single health bar.

Judging from promotional screenshots provided, the graphics for R2R:R2 appear to be a mix of sprites and polygons, the combination resulting in a very nice looking two-dimensional boxing game. Graphically, the GBA version already looks leaps and bounds better than the Game Boy Color version - of course, we're hardly talking Dreamcast or PS2 here. The camera in R2R: R2 is basically locked into a side-on perspective, zooming in and out as necessary throughout the course of the bout, with the camera rotating around the boxing ring to create the illusion of 3D. Additionally, the GBA's processor is not fast enough to calculate the movements of the characters in real time, so Midway has captured some key frames from the more powerful console versions and converted them into more easily animated 2D sprites.

Regardless of any of the aforementioned system limitations, Ready 2 Rumble was the first boxing series to capture my attention since Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! on the NES, and I remain eager to see how it fares in it's second attempt to adapt to a 2D milieu.

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