Ring King (NES)

Ring King Box Art

Ring King

System: NES

Release Date: September 1987

Developer: Jastic/Neue Design

Publisher: Data East

Genre: Sports

Ring King was a game that I spent a lot of time playing during my misspent youth. You take the role of a boxer, give him a name, and then put him through training to power him up. You battle against a bunch of palette swaps with random stats and need to beat them to earn more stats.

A straight left knocks my opponent down and out in the third round.

Gameplay is fairly simple. You can move around the ring and circle your opponent with the d-pad. You punch with the A Button. A jab or straight is the default punch. If you’re facing vertically, you can throw a hook of you press the d-pad toward your opponent. If you’re facing horizontally, you throw an uppercut if you press the d-pad toward your opponent. The B Button dodges, ducks, blocks, etc. You can get a power punch if you’re greater than an arm’s length away from your opponent and press toward them and the A Button. This can result in spinning them like a top, knocking them into the ropes, or launching them into the air.

Your winner by decision, Georg Mack!

Before each match, you can allocate your stats into power, speed, and stamina. How you spread your points is up to your style. I typically relied on power and stamina, as speed seemed to be subjective. If I lost a couple times to an opponent while training, I seemed to be faster than my speed stat by the third try. Their stats also get randomized between fights, which can make it a bit easier. You can also take on opponents in the ranking mode, but they get strong pretty quickly. I finally beat the Rookie champion and then realized I’d have to power up a lot more to go any further, so quit.

Uhhhh… what’s happening here?

My record in the training gym was 18W and 24L. That was enough for 19 stat points. I wish I had my passwords from when I was a kid, I had enough stat points to beat the World Champion. I had a lot more time and patience, too. And of course, any Ring King review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the scene in between rounds. I don’t remember Mickey doing that to Rocky…

Graphics: 2.0

I think the graphics are fine. All the fighters being palette swaps was lazy, though.

Sound: 1.5

The music and sound effects are plain, but the referee’s count is pretty impressive for this time period.

Gameplay: 2.5

There’s a lot of depth compared to other sports games of this time period, but punches don’t always land when you feel they should and blocking doesn’t either.

Difficulty: 3.0

Learn to box effectively and you’ll win fights. Punch away and you’ll tire yourself out, likely leading to a loss.

Fun Factor: 3.5

I’ve had lots of fun with Ring King. Not only now, but as a kid. It’s easily one of the most fun legit boxing games out there.

Overall Grade: 2.5

Ring King earns a B-. You could do a lot worse when it comes to sports games on the NES. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up as one of the best sports titles on the system when all is said and done.

Ring King Video Review on YouTube