Electron User1st January 1989
Published in Electron User 6.04
In spite of its rather peculiar title, By Fair Means Or Foul (BFMOF) is in fact a boxing game in the mould of Tynesoft's The Big Ko. I first became aware of the game's development well over a year ago, and was about to consign it to legend when it dropped through my letterbox.
Like The Big Ko and the various karate games that have appeared on the Electron, BFMOF allows you to execute a variety of boxing moves. These include a body blow, uppercut, standard punch and duck punch - all perfectly legal manoeuvres. You can also move backwards and forwards and block your opponent's blows by engaging either a high guard or low guard. These are the fair moves. You can however, also execute four foul moves - head butt, knee, kick and groin punch - hence the name of the game.
Like any boxing match, the fights are supervised by a referee who will try to ensure a good clean fight. However, there are times when his attention wanders, so if you want to play dirty, strike quickly.
The probability of executing a foul move without attracting the referee's attention is indicated by the colour of a box below your score. If it is red then you will certainly be spotted, and red/white indicates that you stand a reasonable chance of getting away with it. A white silhouette gives the all clear to any dirty move.
The referee's attention is constantly changing, so he may be watching one competitor with an eagle eye while the other may be able to execute all kinds of ungentlemanly moves. You start off with five lives and will lose one if you are caught attempting an illegal move.
Each player - you can square up to another human or the computer - has an energy level which falls every time your opponent lands a punch. When it reaches zero you lose a life. Fortunately, your energy builds up gradually, but you will have difficulty in avoiding your opponent for any length of time. Your energy is restored to maximum at the end of each round, so you can sometimes hang on long enough to fight another day.Rounds are one minute long, and the time can seem to go very quickly if you are losing. If neither player manages a knockout, the one with the highest energy level at the end of the round is the winner. The defeated player loses a life.
Like author Michael Simpson's other game, WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST, BFMOF pits you against a number of increasingly skilful and vicious opponents. Your first only knows a few moves and is a fairly clean fighter. Later ones can call on a wider range of skills and manoeuvres and do not hesitate to use them.
The ring scene graphics are not particularly impressive, and the game seems rather devoid of colour - a start contrast to EXPLODING FIST. However, the animation of the two boxers is very lifelike, as they swing their arms and jump around on their toes.
The crowd certainly believes in audience participation. If you manage to land a punch, a little "Get him!" or "Again!" speech bubble appears in the air behind you. If you manage to win a round, your fans go wild and celebrate with a deafening roar.
However, they are not particularly patient, and will soon start to shout "Chicken!" if you are seen to be avoiding the action. The referee is a little more subtle - he just goes to sleep. Above all, the audience likes to see clean fighting, and if you or your opponent stoop to ungentlemanly tactics, the audience will soon voice its disapproval by booing the offender.
The players can be controlled using either the keyboard or joysticks, and the controls can be selected individually - one player can use the keyboard and the other a joystick.
You can switch the sound on and off at will, and if you don't like the crowd encouraging or booing you, simply turn them off as well. The game features a demonstration mode that can give you a good idea of strategy and gameplay. Watch it closely.
By Fair Means Or Foul is the result of a well-used idea approached from a different direction and, as such, has been implemented well.
* * * Second Opinion (By Janice Murray) * * *
I'm not one to stop up until three o' clock in the morning just to see Mike Tyson slogging it out with some other prize-fighter. However, I did enjoy this conversion of the popular blood sport.
The graphics are quite good, though they certainly aren't the best I've seen. The animation is reasonably fast and the sound is OK. Overall a competent arcade combat game that deserves to do well.