Knockout Kings 2000 — Issue 48

Not tech­ni­cal­ly a knockout
Knock­out Kings packs a punch for PSOne

Ah, Elec­tron­ic Arts aka Crunch Time World Head­quar­ters, how gamers love thee (sar­casm insert­ed). Begin­ning in 1995, there was­n’t a sports game, col­le­giate or pro­fes­sion­al, that was not giv­en EA’s sports label “the game amongst sports games.” When you saw offi­cial­ly licensed sport game com­mer­cials in the late ’90s to ear­ly 2000s, nine times out of 10 they would be from EA Sports. I have played some titles in EA’s Mad­den series but my main expe­ri­ence with EA Sports came dur­ing my junior year in col­lege when I played an EA game that fea­tured the best of pro­fes­sion­al box­ing to deter­mine who was tru­ly the undis­put­ed best amongst them. Knock­out Kings 2000 stepped into the ring and put on a show.

In Knock­out Kings 2000, you get to play as one of 25 leg­endary pro­fes­sion­al box­ers such as Mar­velous Mar­vin Hagler, “Smokin” Joe Fra­zier, Son­ny Lis­ton, and my favorite, the “Great­est of all Time” Muham­mad Ali. In addi­tion to these clas­sic box­ers, you can cre­ate your own box­er like I did with box­ers named “Bus­ta­jawzs” or “Crush­er Bear”. Depend­ing on which option you choose, you’ll be fight­ing at well-known sport venues such as Cae­sar’s Palace and Great West­ern Col­i­se­um in either the Cham­pi­onship, Slugfest or Train­ing modes. 

Despite EA’s attempt to faith­ful­ly ren­der each pro­fes­sion­al box­er’s and venue, the graph­ics are of PSOne qual­i­ty. It can be dif­fi­cult to see box­ers unless you have excel­lent mas­tery over the game’s cam­era sys­tem, which brings out the scenes in bet­ter quality. 

The con­trols in Knock­out Kings 2000 are sim­ple and do not require com­pli­cat­ed move­ments unlike oth­er fight­ing games. The super punch is very easy to per­form, which is a bless­ing since I’m a but­ton mash­er at heart. I can say with con­fi­dence that after a few bouts, I became a new world heavy­weight cham­pi­on going straight to train­ing to main­tain my com­pet­i­tive edge. 

EA did excel­lent in the music depart­ment with each mode hav­ing a unique theme for train­ing and var­i­ous music styles for the Cham­pi­onship and Slugfest modes. I espe­cial­ly like the ’50s-like gui­tar entrance theme and a hip-hop hor­ror mix that brought fear to my oppo­nents’ hearts when I used my “Crush­er Bear” char­ac­ter. The sound was top qual­i­ty, and EA gave upcom­ing artists such as Androyd, Alien Fash­ion Show and my per­son­al favorite rap­per, O, a place to shine. O pro­vid­ed the main theme “In the Game” as well as a music video with cameos by Hagler, Roy Jones Jr., and Floyd May­weath­er Jr., which was a nice touch.

I like a lot about Knock­out Kings 2000 but there are some prob­lems. The cam­era needs adjust­ment so the fight­ers can be seen prop­er­ly but even worse the mod­el­ing of each fight­er looks like EA rushed its pro­gram­mers. The fight­ers are unrec­og­niz­able, which is dis­ap­point­ing. Anoth­er issue that I had was in the train­ing ses­sion where I want­ed to learn com­bo tech­niques. The train­ing want­ed to rush my learn­ing, result­ing in lit­tle train­ing val­ue for my box­er. My final prob­lem was announc­ing calls. While I appre­ci­ate that respect­ed box­ing com­men­ta­tors Al Albert and Sean O’Grady called the action, their tim­ing was off some­times on mak­ing cru­cial com­men­tary, or they were not made at all. 
Knock­out Kings 2000 is a great sports game for the PSOne. While EA is known for cash grabs, and low-qual­i­ty work on their games, I believe that they found the mag­ic for­mu­la for suc­cess with this.

SSX Tricky — 3Q2014 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of

Grab your gear and hit the slopes

SSX can get a lit­tle … well … Tricky. OK, yes, I went for the easy joke, but it’s one that can be made with a sol­id title in SSX Tricky. Tricky tends to take the best things about the SSX fran­chise and make them bet­ter. And that’s bet­ter for every­one because snow­board­ing games of the time weren’t exact­ly fresh­ly pow­dered experiences.

Tricky set­tles into its role as a snow­board­ing sim­u­la­tor with slick visu­als and an added bonus of inter­est­ing char­ac­ters. The eas­i­est way to describe play­ing Tricky is that it’s you ver­sus the moun­tain, and well, some­times you ver­sus the oth­er char­ac­ters ver­sus the moun­tain. While the World Cir­cuit mode is tout­ed as a main attrac­tion — and it is cer­tain­ly is for sev­er­al rea­sons — the mode that does the most for me is Free Ride. There’s noth­ing quite like run­ning down the tracks and pulling off tricks with­out oth­er char­ac­ters to annoy you. The char­ac­ters aren’t real­ly that annoy­ing, and the rival­ry sys­tem is fun, but I pre­ferred my soli­tude while learn­ing the game and Prac­tice and Free Ride pro­vid­ed that easily.

Those slick visu­als are also on dis­play through­out the dif­fer­ent modes, and it imme­di­ate­ly sets the game apart from its com­pe­ti­tion of the time. The game flat-out looks great on the Game­Cube, and the oth­er con­sole ver­sions looked great, too. The Game­Cube ver­sion has an inter­est­ing con­trol scheme that lends itself to rolling down the slopes, and it’s intu­itive and becomes sec­ond nature as you become more com­fort­able pulling off var­i­ous tricks. For that increas­ing lev­el of com­fort, you are reward­ed with big­ger and bet­ter items that should help you improve as well as make you look a lit­tle bet­ter on the track. It’s that dri­ve to unlock these good­ies and tracks that keeps you com­ing back to Tricky.

That’s all along­side the sound­track, which is excel­lent, too. There are a few vocal pieces with the instru­men­tal tracks for the dif­fer­ent lev­els, and all are appro­pri­ate for the atmos­phere EA wants to con­vey. In par­tic­u­lar, the remix of Run DMC’s mas­sive hit “Tricky” is the high­light — as it should be. If it’s the main theme of the game, it should stand out, which it man­ages to do so. It nev­er gets old to hear the trio’s 1986 hit sam­pled and remixed (editor’s note: ’80s rap nev­er gets old, in any sit­u­a­tion) while throw­ing down mas­sive tricks on a treach­er­ous moun­tain. And, believe it or not, the voice act­ing adds to the game as well. Usu­al­ly, a ful­ly famous all-star cast of voice actors pro­duces mixed results. How­ev­er, Tricky is an excep­tion to that rule. Folks like Lucy Liu, Oliv­er Platt, Patri­cia Velasquez and Bil­ly Zane deliv­er sol­id results.

With three oth­er sequels and a reboot in 2012, Tricky has had the chal­lenge of stand­ing out in a crowd­ed library of titles fea­tur­ing snow­board­ing. But it’s not that hard to do when it’s got good mechan­ics and great atmos­phere, a rather tricky feat to accomplish.