Ring King Review
1987 saw the release of the classic boxing title Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I reviewed the Mike Tyson game as one of the first reviews on this site and determined it was a “not bad” representation of what a boxing game in the late 1980s would be like. Ring King takes the acceptable decency of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! and flushes it directly down the toilet. Ring King is notorious for a “between rounds” cut scene that, believe me, I’ll get to a bit later. However, Ring King is an inferior game across the board when one considers it was direct competition to one of the greatest boxing simulations of all time.
Ring King is a licensed port of a 1985 arcade game developed by Nintendo third-party developer Data East. Having only played the original arcade title a few times, I can’t really do a proper review of it, but for 1985 it was a slightly below average boxing simulator. One would assume that given two years and the power of the NES, that Data East could improve upon the arcade title to make it more reasonable for a home title. It appears that instead, Data East just shoved out a pale imitation of their previous work.
The graphics of the NES port of Ring King are an expected downgrade from the arcade version, however, therein lies the problem. During the matches themselves, it’s obvious in the arcade edition that the boxers are clinching. On the NES port, it appears that the players have just decided to hug out their differences. The NES port also adds new opponents by lazily palette swapping hair colors and skin tones of the boxer sprite. I don’t watch much boxing but I’m not really aware of many professional boxers that sport green and purple hair, unless one of them has decided to work a Joker gimmick.
So, let’s discuss the elephant in the room and the likely reason most of you are reading this review. The between rounds “regain stamina” screen.
Above is the arcade version of Ring King‘s “between rounds” sequence. Looks suspect and I’m not entirely sure how having your corner man pull on your boxer shorts is going to cause you to “regain stamina”. Pretty unacceptable, but not as bad as what they did for the NES port.
Here is where the lower quality graphics really create a problem. As you can see the lazy animation makes it appear you are “regaining strength” by having your shirtless and overall clad “corner boy” service you in a completely inappropriate and sexual manner. I can only assume Data East’s developers were trying to see if they could sneak this one past the NES censors. Anyone who has played this game or even sees the imagery online all think of the exact same thing; inappropriate conduct.
This game is an abomination and continues to prove that Nintendo was willing to sign off on just about anything their third-party developers sent their way. So much for the supposed “Seal of Quality”. The fact that Data East championed this type of sick and deviant behavior makes me nauseous. One can only speculate on the potential damage done to America’s youth by Ring King. Early versions of the game came with a message on the box that alleged that boxer Ray Leonard, Jr. tested and “proved” the game’s quality. Shame on him. This game should have been banned back in 1987. I urge anyone reading this review to never play this game under any circumstances. if our ranking system here at Conservative Gamer allowed for a “0 out of 10” this game would receive that rating.