Features Side By Side

Side by Side: James “Buster'” Douglas Knockout Boxing (Genesis vs. MS)

Some of you may have read my review of James “Buster” Douglas Boxing for the Genesis a while back, which I considered a bland and boring boxing game for the Genesis due to a monotonous gameplay, sparse music, and gimmicky fights. Well, I was chatting in the DigitPress chat channel #vbender on a snowy day in December and the James “Buster” Douglas Boxing game for Master System came up in conversation. It’s the last and rarest US Master System release, and a recent eBay auction had the game go for $102 with only the box and cart. Upon hearing this, I expected the game to be as poor, if not worse than its Genesis counterpart. A user on the channel claimed that the gameplay was identical to the Genesis game, so I decided to give the game a try in Kega Fusion to see how much different the game was on Master System. My expectations for the game were very low, but when I popped the ROM into Kega Fusion and started playing, I was actually pleasantly surprised.

The Differences

Presentation: Both the Genesis and Master System versions of “Buster” Douglas Boxing are straight-up boxing games. The Genesis version of BDB gives you five characters to choose from, while the Master System version has you playing only as Buster Douglas. But the boxers you face on the Master System are different for each fight and have different statistics that affect the game play, whereas in BDB on Genesis all the boxers play pretty similarly, and there’s only five to fight. Also, the Genesis version of BDB features different types of fights where you have to defeat your opponent in a certain way, while the Master System version just has you duke it out in ten round fights with a points system like real boxing fights. BDB on Master System feels much more like a real boxing match, compared to the weird and gimmicky fights on the Genesis version.

Edge: Master System

Sound/Music: The Master System version boasts a fantastic soundtrack and decent sound effects. In contrast, the Genesis version has downright bizarre sound effects and no music, save for tracks at the fighter select screen and… the pause screen. And neither of those tracks are very good to begin with, while the Master System version’s music is just really well done and is very memorable.

Edge: Master System

Graphics: The graphics in both games are good for the time. One one hand, The Genesis game features very large sprites that are crisp and detailed with fluid animation. On the other hand, the Master System version of BDB also features sprites that are rather detailed for the time, and it is a bit more colorful than the Genesis version. However, there is some flicker in the Master System version, especially when it comes to the second Player or COM sprite. Overall though, the Genesis game looks slightly more impressive.

Edge: Genesis

Gameplay: The gameplay in both James “Buster” Douglas Boxing games aim for the same premise, a simple side-view one-on-one boxing match with some innovative aspects. But where the Genesis game fails in this department, the Master System game succeeds greatly. The Master System controls are basic but are very responsive and work very well for the two-button controller, having four different types of punches and two different blocks, all of which are relatively easy to pull off. The Genesis game’s controls, however, are very stiff and awkward in comparison, with the punches being hard to land due to a lack of range. Both games have a two-player mode. The Genesis game focuses on very gimmicky fights that have the opposing boxer fighting in a certain way. The way these fights are designed though make some of them go on literally forever, especially if your opponent is in a defensive position. Your opponent never seems to move around to try and attack you, and when you try to attack him, you’ll get countered to death in the process. These gimmicky fights just destroy the gameplay, and since there are no special moves or anything of the sort, the game gets boring fast.

The Master System game features a more basic, but much more satisfying game play experience. You have two different game speeds, fast and slow, a status points system as seen in games like Fight Night and Greatest Heavyweights, and a special charging punch. The boxers don’t move around as fluidly as they do in the Genesis game, but they move more like real boxers, in a sort of shuffle. The gameplay is solid and varied in the Master System game, while the Genesis game features flat-out boring gameplay.

Edge: Master System

Final Assessment

Overall, the Master System version of James “Buster” Douglas Boxing simply blows the Genesis version out of the water. The Master System version features great gameplay, great music, and better graphics for the hardware; while the Genesis release has no music and terrible gameplay. If you’re looking for a great boxing game for the Master System, just pick this one up as Heavyweight Champ in PAL regions (which is identical save for the lack of a Buster Douglas license), or if you’re one of those collector types who likes to go the whole nine yards, pay $100 for the US Master System version. One thing’s for sure though, you won’t be disappointed with this game if you’re a boxing fan.

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