Computer Gamer

Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing
By Activision
Amstrad CPC464/664/6128

Published in Computer Gamer #7

Dave Bishop takes an in-depth look at Activision's latest contender in the computer boxing championships

Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing

Although, at first glance, it may appear that Activision are just trying to knock some of the stuffing out of Elite's Frank Bruno's Boxing in fact Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing is an upper-cut above the rest and was even being designed long before Frank gave Harry his first interview!

Programmed in the States by Activision adoptees "Gamestar", The Main Event as it was then called, was first previewed at the summer CES show in Chicago where it received high critical acclaim. However, when the dust cleared after the explosion of the McGuigan bombshell it became clear to the powers that be at Activision that here was an extremely hot property! So, having changed some of the names to protect the innocent, The Main Event was renamed to heighten its marketing profile. But they did more than just change the name, now you could actually have a crack at the champ himself!

What Type Of Game Is This?

Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing is more than just an 'Exploding Fist' of the ring (no disrespect intended to Melbourne's excellent karate game) because it's a real simulation of the sport where actual boxing is only part of the story. No matter how adept you become at throwing punches, you'll never be able to string together more than a couple of wins unless you've mastered the strategical side of the game such as training and knowing your opponent's weaknesses.

Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing

So this is a game which requires the strategy and planning skills of a boxing manager as well as the physical attributes of a successful boxer.

The Player Modes

There are two variations to the game:

  1. One Player And Two Player
    The two player option allows each person to become any of the nineteen contenders or the champ himself.
    The one player option is far the most interesting and challenging as you must always start at the bottom of the pack and work your way up to become the main contender for the world crown. Then, and only then, you will have earnt the redoubtable pleasure of twelve rounds with the 'Man'. This is an awesome task!
    As the one player option is by far the most interesting I shall concentrate on this side of what is a most absorbing sport simulation.
  2. Selecting The Make-up Of Your Boxer
    Having named your adopted fighter you have the chance to define his race, colour, gloves and shorts colour, and type.
    The only preset of real consequence seems to be the type of boxer you opt for. Your choices are:
    Danger: likes to 'stick and move'. Rarely goes inside.
    Boxer: sometimes moves inside, but prefers to keep his distance. An excellent style if you like to flurry.
    Mixed: very unpredictable. Hard for your opponents to 'read'.
    Slugger: no-nonsense style. Doesn't tire quite as easily because he doesn't do much dancing. Goes inside often.
    Bulldog: likes to slug it out toe-to-toe. Can sometimes trap a dancer against the ropes.
    If you select 'New Pro' you will start with a world ranking of nineteen whereas contenders start with a ranking of ten. New pro's have a real tough time serving their apprenticeships in the lower echelons of the world elite!

Your Boxer's Profile

Once you've created your boxer, you can now view his profile which is made up of the following components:

Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing

Image: nice guy, loudmouth, etc.

Attitude: Negative, hot temper, etc.

Stamina: Sluggish, slow, average, quick, lighting. This is your 'toughness' register and will determine the amount of endurance you get back between rounds. With a high stamina rating you also stand a much better chance to getting back of the canvas after a knockdown.

Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing

Agility: Poor, average, good, massive. This is the key to your fighter's punching speed and will decrease with every punch thrown.

Strength: Feeble, weak, average, strong, awesome. A reflection of your fighter's power. The greater your strength the more damage you will inflict. Every punch you throw, hit or miss, will drain your fighter's strength.

Endurance: weak, erratic, average, tough, mighty. This is the key to knockdowns. If your endurance decreases below 10 watch out because kissing canvas time is here. Endurance goes down when you are hit *and* when you miss your level is displayed during the bout above the ring.

Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing

Best Punch: it is important to recognise your fighter's strengths and weaknesses so if you've got a particularly good upper-cut then *use it*.

Recovery: a measure of how fast you recover from your encounters.

Ranking: guess what!

Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing

Now you know your fighter's profile it's time to choose your first opponent.

The Circuit Status Screen

Here you can view the thugs above in the world rankings with those with whom you are elligible to fight highlighted in yellow (nice choice of colour Activision!). By moving your joystick over each name you can see the size of the purse and the number of weeks training allowed before the bout. Press fire to select an opponent and you can see his profile. At this stage, if you don't like what you see you can refuse the bout and choose another one. As in the real thing, you will only ever be able to challenge boxers close to you in the rankings.


Having identified the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent it's time for your training which can last for between 6 and 12 weeks. There are five areas in which you can allocate you time in weekly blocks:

Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing

Road Work: this has a tremendous effect on your endurance and will also build up strength and agility.

Light Bag: will build up your stamina and is good for agility too.

Weights: pumping iron is a strength builder.

Star Time: is great for your stamina but will improve all your boxer's attributes.

Heavy Bag: good for building your strength but also pays dividents in the stamina and endurance departments.

Correct allocation of training time between these five disciplines is crucial to the success of your fighter!

Into The Ring

The action is depicted by a side view of the ring as seen from an elevated ringside seat. Movement of the boxers in the ring is on a left/right axis only rather than over the whole of the canvas. Sprite design and animation of the boxers from above the waist is good but spoilt slightly by the unconvincing way in which their legs move - a pity but maybe a symptom of that well-known virus 'nomorus memorius'.

Sound effects of leather against leather and flesh are convincing, re-inforced by the backwards motion of the head when a blow to the chin connects.

Joystick control is complicated but comprehensive embodying the complete arsenal of punches a world class fighter would expect to have at his disposal.

Knockdowns are fun although it would have been nice to hear the sound of dazed body connecting with canvass at ten metres per second squared but the heightened activity from the crowd, including the odd flashlight, excellently conveys the sweaty ringside atmosphere to the player.

Worthy Of Its Name

Yes and yes again! Barry McGuigan's World Championship Boxing is a realistic and gripping boxing simulation requiring a neatly balanced helping of brain and brawn and should provide devotees of this type of simulation with months of bruising fun.

Dave Bishop