03 May 2010
Boxing - Atari 2600
While my daughter and I watch Sesame Street something about Elmo has been giving me the creeps. Who does he remind me of? Why is that face so familiar? I don't think Elmo was around when I was a kid. And I was more of an Electric Company kid anyway (they had Spider-Man, after all, and Morgan Freeman - who allegedly once donned the Spidey suit).
I recently found myself looking through my Atari 2600 cartridges on a particularly nostalgic day. I popped in Boxing, and there he was. If you look at the screen quickly, it appears there are a black and white Elmo beating the crap out of each other.
I'm glad I popped this old gem in for a spin, because it reminded me of all that was great about early gaming. Much like other Activision sports titles such as Ice Hockey, Boxing is a spartan but attractive title that uses the wee power of the 2600 to get at the essence of the sport. The 2-minute bouts (against a friend or the computer) are always white-knuckle affairs in which movement and punch timing are critical. Your thumb will get sore with this game, the true hallmark of early gaming. And rivalries will rise and fall.
A guy I knew a long time ago once told me that all other sports are just watered down boxing. I was impressionable at the time and I thought it was a brilliant quote (even thought I'm sure it wasn't his). You could say that Boxing on the Atari 2600 is what's left of the onion when you strip away all the layers on the newer, fancier games. This game is pure in a way that is nearly impossible for new games to be.
By Victor Paul Alvarez