World Championship Boxing Manager 2 Review
A quick dodge allows your boxer to land a three-hit combo. He has the speed and the finesse to handle his opponent, you’ve had him training specifically for this match for weeks. He needs to watch for the haymaker which he knows is coming, but he is tired. Maybe you’ve pushed him too hard for the past week. Maybe he hasn’t slept enough. But he’s tough. Your fighter takes a hit on the jaw. He bobbed when he should have weaved and now he’s hurt. Between rounds you’ve been coaching him and icing the wounds he’s collected from previous missed dodges, but this is his last chance to land any significant hits; better yet, a knockout. The clock ticks down the last seconds of the fight. 3…2…1…*ding ding*
Developed by Mega Cat Studios and published by Ziggurat, World Championship Boxing Manager 2 serves as the official sequel to 1991’s World Champion Boxing Manager, placing you in the role of an up and coming boxing manager and gym owner. It is up to you to hire and train your stable of fighters, maintain their well being, and even choose whether to praise them or not for a job well (or not so well) done. Every choice has a consequence and an associated impact on your fighter’s statistics. If you shower a fighter with praise, they’ll get soft and their training in the near future will not be as effective. If you go too hard on them, their stress level will rise and begin to have a negative impact during their fights. A teeter-totter balancing act is necessary in order to harbor the right environment for a World Champion to thrive.
In Story Mode, an introduction to the game mechanics and a turned down difficulty level allow new players to get comfortable with the game and its interface. The first scenario available is “An Underdog Story”, which follows a promoter with a troubled past and an amateur boxer who team up in an attempt to make a name for themselves. Through a fairly basic storyline, the game sets the player up to learn the ropes of managing a boxer, training them, and promoting them in order to make money. There are a few basic dialogue choices sprinkled throughout the campaign, and the dialogue itself was actually voice acted, which I enjoyed. The game loop from here becomes rather repetitive; check to see when your boxer’s next fight is scheduled, train to increase their skills and stats, make sure your boxer isn’t tired before the match, and send them into the ring to see if weeks of training have paid off.
Ringside, you can initially select from four types of fighting strategies: neutral, offensive, take risks, or bide your time. Between rounds you can change between these strategies and also elect to apply an enswell, ice pack, swab sticks, or give them a water bottle. Each of these items provide different buffs to health and stamina, allowing you to decide which would best suit your boxer at that time. The fights themselves are automatically run, no player input is needed. Your only role at this point is to sit back and watch as your fighter either delivers a win or gets their teeth punched through the back of their head by someone who has trained harder.
While the interface itself is nothing overly complicated, it does have some nuances which can be a bit confusing at first. I found the calendar system somewhat annoying due to specific dates being referenced but not labeled in the actual calendar. Scheduling training for your boxer is quick and painless. There are a plethora of training activities, all which use up your boxer’s limited energy bank and boost specific traits. Rest days allow your fighter to recover their energy, while over-training them leads to decreased stamina on the day of the fight.
Although I did enjoy the initial scenario in Story Mode, Career Mode is where World Championship Boxing Manager 2 shines the brightest. While training one boxer is fairly simple, managing an entire roster of boxers adds a significantly higher level of difficulty and requires prudent planning on the part of the player. Scheduling multiple fights and training regimens along with keeping your boxers happy and healthy becomes a real balancing act. Adding another boxer to your gym not only means spending more money, but also spending more time dealing with their specific needs.
World Championship Boxing Manager 2’s artwork consists of a nicely styled, pixel based aesthetic, and a rough-around-the-edges boxing motif adds to the atmosphere of the game. The colours used are vibrant and easy on the eyes. Sound style is basic and on par with a Super Nintendo-era game. The in-game music in Story Mode was upbeat and catchy initially, however after playing for an hour or so the music did become monotonous. Point and click controls are basic and intuitive, leaving minimal room for guess work.
Overall, World Championship Boxing Manager 2’s gameplay can be satisfying, although repetitive. Upgrading your boxers and your gym seems to be the hanging carrot which keeps players involved. Collecting “trinkets”, which boost a boxer’s stats for a limited amount of fights, is another point of replay value.
Available now on PC and coming to consoles, World Championship Boxing Manager 2 allows you to fulfill your dreams of building a successful boxing gym from the ground up and maybe even getting to train the next World Champion.
World Championship Boxing Manager 2 (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
World Championship Boxing Manager 2 is a boxing management sim with mild RPG elements wrapped in a vibrant retro pixel art style. While it can get into a repetitive game loop at times, the developers have attempted to sprinkle in some items for the sake of replayability. Entertaining and easy to pick up, this title is worth checking out for those interested in straightforward management games.