By Fair Means Or Foul

Publisher: Superior/Alligata
Machine: Amstrad CPC464

Published in Computer & Video Games #86

By Fair Means Or Foul

Talk about hitting the bandwagon fast. First Linel Switzerland announce its boxing game, The Champ, then Nintendo leaps in with Mike Tyson's Punch Out and now Superior Software release its soon-to-be-forgotten By Fair Means Or Foul.

The reason for the slightly strange title is that this isn't a normal boxing game, where every man is a British fighter and everyone is clean and angelic. In this game, you play dirty if you want to get anywhere.

The game is viewed side-on, so's that your boxers on screen are square on with each other, only able to move forward and back, as in games like Barry McGuigan's Boxing thingee and Fight Night. A referee wanders about aimlessly, and to win properly, you've got to keep your eye on him as well as your opponent.

By Fair Means Or Foul

Like most people, the referee has a tendency to get bored very quickly. This is the key to winning. Fight like a gentleman when he's watching, but as soon as he turns away, play dirty.

He doesn't look away for very long, though, so timing is all important. Go for a dirty move, and he calls foul, losing you one of your five lives. The only other way you can lose a life is if you are knocked out, but that only seems to be possible after about 30 continuous hits with no interruptions.

As you hit your opponent, and indeed as he hits you, a damage-meter at the bottom of the screen slowly fills. The idea is to hit him hard enough to knock it up before he can recover. For as fast as it goes up, it drops twice as fast. These boys heal quickly!

By Fair Means Or Foul

You are very limited in the moves that you have to choose from. Basically, a punch to the face, a punch to the paunch, a headbutt (dirty move) and a kick below the belt (another dirty move). Needless to say, the dirty moves do the most damage.

It's with this in mind that I don't like this game very much. I found I was far too restricted for a boxing game.

Graphics are simplistic and blocky, with sparse use of colour. At some points, the graphics are almost unrecognisable. Especially so when the Ref gets bored. His head deflates and collapses on his shoulder.

Sound is as sound does on an Amstrad, i.e. it sounds like it's coming from the other side of a very tight wire mesh whilst you are wearing a greased cucmber in your right ear and a copy of the Financial Times, rolled up and smeared with Sainsbury's own brand Lemonade in your left. [Tony, what have you been up to? - Ed] In other words, lots of crackly scratching sounds coming from the 'crowd' and an occasional bonk from a punch or ping from a bell.

By Fair Means Or Foul just isn't my cup of tea.