The title of the game could well lead you to believe that you step into the boxing gloves of Barry McGuigan himself and take to the ring. You don't; the idea behind the game is to work your way through the many professionals and semi-professionals of the World, so you can take on the mighty Irishman himself and try to beat him.
When you start the game you are asked to assemble your boxer. This interesting option allows you to add personality customised individual style to your boxer.
When you are assembling your boxer you can select the race, colour of shorts, hair, personality (ranging from 'loud-mouth' to 'nice guy') and then the actual type of fighter he is. You have several options: dancer, boxer, mixed, slugger and bulldog. These all give you a really individual style and therefore gives a lot of scope to playing the game; you can work out which is the best sort of boxer to build, so that he suits your style of gameplay.
Once you've chosen your boxer you can start the build-up to the fight. First you can choose the opponent you'd like to challenge, but at the start you can only challenge one of two boxers, this is because you're new to the circuit and the big boys aren't interested in small fry. It takes quite a while to build up a reputation and, like anything else in life, you have to fight consistently well if you want to get anywhere in your career.
Opponent chosen, it's wise to get in a spot of training. You're told what sort of fight you'll be having, the boxer's form and how many weeks preparation there is before the fight. Training time is allocated for building up in five separate areas; road work, light bag, heavy bag, weights and spar time. Naturally certain conditions can be finely tuned by careful training, and you should avoid giving yourself massive stamina whilst leaving yourself light in the strength area.
Once you've selected your training you can then fight an opponent. Fighting takes place in a packed arena and your boxer is viewed panoramically from the side in semi 3D. The boxers can move backwards and forwards, and have a total of nine moves that may be used to knock down your opponent. Control of the punches and defensive moves is done similarly to Way of the Exploding Fist, using up/down/left/right and the same in conjunction with the fire button. If you put the joystick in the centre your boxer goes into automatic defence mode, which is useful against body blows from the opposing fighter.
Punches under your control include jabs, hooks, cross punches, uppercuts, body blows and also a 'guard up' so you can ward off an attacking opponent without getting hurt.
Shown on screen whilst you're fighting is the time, round number, points, endurance and count. The count comes into action when you or your opponent gets knocked down.
While fighting there is a constant update of your condition and how the crowd is reacting. You then know what to concentrate on next round, whether to go for a knockout, defend, tire your opponent, or try to gain points.
If you manage to win the fight then you are automatically moved up the elite ranks of boxing and can challenge stronger opponents (there are nineteen) and ultimately challenge McGuigan himself.
All these challengers have their own 'personalities' and an individual fighting style, and as you progress up the ranks you are put against tougher and more determined boxers who are strong, skilful and cunning.
There is also a two-player option, which allows you to battle it out with a human opponent and both try to work their way to the top.
Sports simulations seem to be getting better all the while. This one is not only a great sport action game, but the 'management' aspect adds hugely, and you can't expect to get very far without creating both the boxer's body or his personality. And all of this is made to work because of the graphics and general presentation, which is excellent. Barry McGuigan represents a marvellous purchase for anyone who likes the sport, and a good game, even, for those who don't.
Alligata's Knockout had the honour of being the first boxing game to appear on the C64 several months ago, but unfortunately it was let down by rather poor graphics and limited gameplay. Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing on the other hand has plenty to offer, with a stunning array of options that give plenty of scope for many hours of enjoyable boxing.
There aren't many boxing games on the Commodore but soon there'll be quite a few, what with this, US Gold's boxing game and Frank Bruno's. The question of which one is the best buy will obviously come up, but subsequent ones will have to be of extremely high quality to be better than this one. The way the game is presented is superb, making you fight for recognition and punch your way to the top.
Building your boxer is brilliant fun and you can personalize him to become almost like yourself, or how you'd like yourself to be if you were a boxer. His movement isn't too difficult to master, and once that has been done you can have some excellent fights. The graphics are very good indeed, with incredibly realistic animation and some nice touches, like flashes from cameras as a knockout punch is photographed.
The sound matches the animation too, with realistic leather-on-skin effects and the sniff as a boxer lunges out. I really enjoyed this game as I battled my way to professionalism and with the training, personalisation and excellent range of moves you can now become a boxer without hurting yourself!
Fabulous options as you fight to the top.
Excellent animation on boxers and some brilliant touches.
Great jingles and FX.
A more powerful hook than McGuigan's left ...
... and the game has just as long a lasting effect.
Value For Money 90%
A new Activision game at the old Activision price.
An excellent new sports simulation.