The latest in a long line of boxing simulations has a twist that makes it different from all previous attempts: you can cheat! You don't have to, of course, but your opponents certainly will, and your chances of winning improve too.
In the centre of the screen is a boxing ring occupied by you, your opponent and the referee. Below it are two bars representing how many hits each fighter has taken and there's a clock that counts down to the end of the round. Above the ring is a board with the round number on and on either side of that is a score and a small figure. The figures have a number in the centre which tells you how many 'chances you have left. Each player has five 'chances' which decrease every time you lose a round or get caught fouling your opponent.
The fight is split into fifteen rounds and to win you must have more points than your opponent at the end of the fight or reduce his 'chances' to zero. At the start of the round both damage bars are green and every blow taker: by a fighter increases the amount of red in the bar. If the bar is completely red the fighter is knocked down and loses a 'chance'. The player with most red in his bar at the end of a round loses a chance. If both are equal, then no-one loses anything. Now to the important bit cheating! The two figures at the top of the screen can be one of three colours: green, amber and red. Red means that the referee has his beady little eye on you; amber means there's a chance of getting away with a foul; and green means you can kick, butt and knee to your heart's content. Illegal moves are more damaging (and fun) than legal ones and so help you to victory. Once Mild Martin the junior champion has been defeated you go onto Steady Eddie the County Champion and work up to Deadly Dan the World Championship man. Each opponent gets progressively tougher and more determined to win by foul means.
As with all combat games you have a wide variety of moves available to you, eight with fire pressed and eight with-out. Switching from legal to illegal and vice versa is a simple matter and you can also block punches when and if you feel like it.
All you get for sound effects are cheering crowds and the thud of glove on flesh, but that's really all you need. The boxer graphics are large, colourful and well animated, and By Fair Means Or Foul has a refreshing line in humorous graphics. Even the shadowy crowd looks good as they leap up and down in their seats at the end of a round. Colour is used well throughout.
First thoughts are "Oh no, not another lousy boxing game", but fortunately it's much more than that. It's fun to play, the opponents are tough enough to keep you interested and, best of all, you can use unfair tactics to win a fight. Not the greatest game ever, but certainly the best boxing game.
As a boxing fan I have to look severely on this travesty of the noble art. How dare they allow kicking and illegal punching?
Right, now I've got that out of my system: By Fair Means Or Foul is brilliant! It's amusing, enthralling and the range of difficulty is wide enough to keep beginners and old hands equally entertained. It ain't cricket, as Frank Bruno memorably put it - but it sure is fun!
Beat Steady Eddie.
P. Large and well animated boxers.
P. Good use of colour.
N. Thud and cheer.
Grab Factor 69%
P. Fouling adds greatly to the excitement.
P. One or two player game.
Staying Power 80%
P. Six different opponents to beat
N. As in real life, once you're World Champion the only way is down.
Superior has been quiet for a long time, but they're back with a bang. Know what I mean. 'Arry?