Toughman Contest (Electronic Arts) Review | Mean Machines Sega - Everygamegoing


Toughman Contest
By Electronic Arts
Sega Mega Drive (EU Version)

Published in Mean Machines Sega #30

Toughman Contest

"Aw-roight my sahn! You've made yaw mum right proud ya know. That woz summink special out there. The way ya laid into 'im, it brought a tear to me eye. Honest, I forwt you woz gunna kill 'im back there. All those left 'ooks and uppercuts, you mashed 'im and went back faw more. A truly gratuitous victory. So wots this little chat abaht then? Well I'll tell yuz sahm, me and yaw fatha 'ave been 'avin' a bit of a chat abaht puttin' ya up for the Toughman Contest. Wat ya mean, ya don't wanna fight? You're made for it, and you'll make uz millionaires!

"Roight, all you've gotta do is get on a plane to America and fight 23 utha meat 'eds from around the world. It's so easy sahn, free rounds of a minute apiece, and all you've gotta do is make mincemeat of the lightweight. Nuffink easier! And you'll neva guess wat - those weirdo Yanks only go an' give yuz three special moves wiv which you can beat 'em to a pulp. Now go on owt there and make yaw mum rich beyond her wildest dreams. That's a good lad!"


Based on the TV series from the other side of the Great Divide, in which grown men beat each other to a pulp.

How To Play

Choose a boxer from one of the four continents and slug your way to the top of the Toughman Challenge.

Float Like A Butterfly

The Toughman Contest is no piece of cake so selecting the perfect candidate is of paramount importance. To help you make the right decision, each boxer has been broken down by a team of statisticians. Scored out of 100, the vital statistics cover power of punches; how light your fighter is on his feet; the amount of damage he can withstand; and speed at which he can get back on his feet after hitting the mat.

Sting Like A Bee

Along with the usual selection of uppercuts, jabs and hooks, the boxers have all been genetically engineered to release special move attacks. In a semi-Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter sort of way, a combination of D-Pad presses and button pushes let rip killer moves such as the Super Uppercut, the Windmill Wind-up (a cartoon caper in which the boxer winds up his arm like an elastic band to unleash an almighty slow) and the Popeye Punch (pretty much self-explanatory). But instead of assigning different special moves to individual boxers, the player has the choice in the pre-fight screen to pick any three special moves for their prize fighter.

Towel Down

Defeat comes to even the best. And there comes a point in every boxer's life where he must face up to a pasting from some of the younger and faster boxers. So to save ace, and maintain a hint of dignity, the option to throw in the towel is available.

A word of caution though - only ever throw in the towel if you are certain that even a draw is beyond all hope, as it's not something you want to be remembered for in the long term.


The greatest shame about Toughman Contest is that it could have been a contender. The prospect of a 32MEG boxing game had all the promise of huge sprites, plentiful animation, and great playability. But, even though it has the first ingredient, the latter two are sorely missing.

The sprites are big and chunky, but they move in slo-mo, and even come to a sporadic halt after any special move is performed. Talking of special moves, they may be selectable from the menu and varied, but you never feel as if you're in control and they happen almost by accident.

With a bit of patience, not all hope is lost, as it is possible to compensate for the lack of responsiveness, but in all truth Toughman Contest doesn't have the form to be a belt challenger.


It looks like Electronic Arts are out to take on Nintendo's Super Punch Out head on. Whilst I prefer Toughman Contest to the Super NES game, though, both suffer from a lack of staying power.

Ever since the likes of Frank Bruno's Boxing for the Spectrum, the art of pugilism have failed to recreate the action of the ring. Boxing is a sport of skill and agility and, whilst Toughman Contest comes close to recreating that, it never seems to gel as a game and is sluggish and uninvolving.


Graphics 73%
P. Huge character sprites and nicely designed animated backdrops.
N. But the boxer animation is severely lacking, and slows down frequently.

Sound 75%
P. The thwacks and cracks are good and meaty, adding some weight to the punches.
N. But the digitised speech is a little weak.

Playability 64%
N. Toughman Contest's biggest downfall - it doesn't feel as if you're in control of the character and the action slows after a special move.

Lastability 65%
P. A tough challenge to beat the other opponents and master the special moves.
N. But this is mainly to do with the clumsy and unresponsive control system.

Value For Money 67%
P. £49.99 for 32 MEG is not bad value.
N. If only the game was champion enough to justify the money.

Overall 64%
EA's biggest game to date, but one that misses the mark through lack of playability. Not a heavyweight contender.