Black and Bruised
Upon throwing Majesco’s Black and Bruised in my PS2 for the first time, my initial impression was that I had just purchased a graphically updated version of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing. Despite the characters being raytraced this time around, it looked and resembled R2R Boxing. Everything from the cartoony fonts on the menus to the game itself sounded similar. However, the moment El Luchador (one of the 19 boxers available in Black and Bruised) hit the canvas face down for the last time, I realized I had more than a simple button masher on my hands.
Unlike R2R, Black and Bruised’s fights leave the traditional squared circle arenas behind and take players across the world. Which of the 14 first available fighters you pick (from the endowed Holly Vixen to the oversized Bronto Sore) will determine the location of the fight.
Once the bell rings, come out swinging! As a fan of R2R, I found Black and Bruised frustrating to learn. If you go in throwing punches as fast as you can, expect to end up kissing canvas even faster. You’ll have to spend a little time learning how to block and more importantly, pull off combos and special moves. Like R2R, you can earn power moves throughout the bout. Unfortunately, I never survived long enough to use one. My opponents however seemed to constantly have flaming or glowing gloves, both of which pounded me into submission with ease. One move I did get a lot of practice with was the “get up” move, where you have to press X repeatedly after being knocked down from taking too much punishment.
While everybody else is over cel-shading, I still think it looks great. It works here, and helps sell the boxers along with their over-the-top personalities. During the matches, successful punches are denoted with small explosions, while blocked or failed attacks emit a puff of white smoke. On par with the character models are the locations themselves, each one unique and full of moving objects.
Despite the game’s initial difficulty, I kind of like Black and Bruised. I got a sense that the game had a bit of an identity crisis, falling somewhere in the middle between an actual boxing game and an arcade punch out, but maybe there’s a niche for that.
Graphics: 8/10. As the next-gen consoles mature, the graphics continue to impress. For a silly punch-a-lot title, the graphics are astounding. Some of the background models are a little rough, but spend too much time looking at them and you’ll be on the receiving end of a fist. Watch for the damage and expressions to change on your fighters face throughout the bout!
Sound: 6/10. The rockin’ theme song played on the meny cycles every 15 seconds or so. The characters have several quips and even though the punches sound just like a door closing, it’s all in good fun.
Gameplay: 5/10. Not strategy boxing, but not an absolute button masher either. Plan on getting pooch punched a few times before picking up the controls.
Overall: 6/10. A great looking title that’s slightly above average in the fighting genre.