KO, Not OK. Review

Ben Silverman
K-1 World Grand Prix Info

genre

  • Sports

players

  • 1 - 2

Publisher

  • Konami

Developer

  • Konami

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2

rating

KO, Not OK.

I sat

through

a few

Muay

Thai

kickboxing

bouts

while

off

roaming

around

in

Thailand,

and

if

it

weren’t

for

the

prodigious

amount

of

rum

and

Coke,

I might

have

passed

out

from

the

sheer

violence.

Watching

a guy

lose

a tooth

to

a fist

is

one

thing,

but

watching

the

tooth

almost

land

in

your

aforementioned

drink

after

a knee

to

the

mouth

is

another

thing

entirely.

Yet despite its overseas popularity, the sport never seemed to take off in

the States. Instead, mixed martial arts events like UFC

and Pride have appeased our bloodlust by offering

all kinds of broken bones, bloody noses and even the occasional chokeout.

K-1

actually dates back to 1992, making it the oldest of the popular martial arts

circuits (the UFC started in 1993), but the event hasn’t gotten much gaming

attention with only a few weak offerings over the years. K-1: World Grand

Prix
is the first next-generation version of the sport, but it will also

likely be the last. This is a lackluster brawler that’s more in love with the

fighters than the fighting.

And unless you’re a big fan of K-1 already, you won’t know who any of these

guys are. I recognized a few of them thanks to ESPN at 2 a.m., but for the most

part it’s strictly hard-to-pronounce international fighters galore.

The

gameplay

is

incredibly

straightforward



punch,

kick

and

knee

your

way

to

success

in

3

to

5

rounds

of

occasionally

brutal

fighting.

There’s

a

stamina

meter,

a

health

bar

and

a

little

homunculus

representing

damage

to

either

your

head,

body

or

legs.

All

par

for

the

course.

But the fighting system is woefully unprepared to enter the ring. You can pull

off a few pre-set combos for each fighter by pressing the “Combo” button along

with an attack, but it’s so dumbed down it feels cheap. There’s also a “KO”

button that throws a big shot when coupled with an attack button, but these

aren’t very interesting and the different fighters don’t have many unique attacks.

No quarter-circles? No actual button combos? No alternate stances? No fun.

The thing is, you won’t really need much of that, as you can do remarkably well with some strategic button-mashing from start to finish. The AI has a hard time when you mix it up, and you can basically go undefeated by alternating between low and high attacks until your thumbs hurt.

K-1‘s

sluggish

control

could

use

a

healthy

application

of

KY.

Considering

how

fast

and

brutal

the

sport

is,

you’d

expect

some

quick

moves,

ducks

and

dodges.

If

you

moved

like

this

in

a

real

fight,

you’d

literally

get

your

head

punched

off.

There are plenty of modes in K-1, but all roads lead to the same stale

fighting. Grand Prix lets you fight for a while until you win the title, Exhibition

lets you set up matches however you see fit, and basic Time Trial and Endurance

modes crop up for good measure. There’s also a Revival mode that lets you relive

famous rounds in K-1 history, though they sure don’t look very memorable when

you watch the accompanying videos. Nice body blow, Jorgen.

The

game’s most notable mode, Champion’s Revolution, is one of the worst Career

modes I’ve ever seen. There is no option to create a fighter; rather, you just

take one of the K-1 guys through the Grand Prix mode, beefing up stats along

the way by engaging in boring little training sessions. I suppose this could

have been tolerable, but after about 6 or 7 fights you’ll reach the Championship

tournament, after which you take on fighter after fighter without going back

to the stats screen to buff out your guy. So essentially the interesting part

ends after fewer than 10 fights, leading to a shorter career than the Dell

dude.

Plus, it’s just not hard enough. I beat the Grand Prix mode in about an hour and a half on my first try. I completed Champion’s Revolution in the same time without losing one fight. I beat 21 straight opponents in my first shot at the Ironman endurance mode. You can up the difficulty, but the standard level should have been far more challenging.

K-1‘s delivery is also less than stellar. Though the framerate is fine

and the animations are decent, the backgrounds are cheap and there is no damage

modeling whatsoever. No blood, sweat, or teeth – just the occasional cheek bruise,

unless that’s just a smudge on my TV. I’d love to figure that one out for you,

but there’s no instant replay aside from a short repeat of the knockout punch.

As this is a Konami game born in Japan, the music is mainly canned heavy metal

thunder. The ring announcer speaks so slowly, I swear he was an extra in “Awakenings.”

Konami

is

also

known

for

their

hidden

modes,

and

K-1

certainly

supplies

the

bonus

material.

You

can

unlock

a

few

videos

for

every

fighter,

as

well

as

a

cute

but

still

boring

mini-game

called

“Robok,”

which

is

just

a

Rock

‘Em

Sock

‘Em


version

of

the

standard

fighting

game

using

little

blocky

robot

guys.

The K-1 tournament might be a big hit internationally, but this game cannot

hold its own against the likes of Tekken, DOA

and Virtua Fighter, not to mention the soon-to-be-classic

Soul Calibur 2. Diehard fans of the sport who already know these fighters’

names by heart will probably get some kicks out of it, but the rest of you should

just kick it to the curb.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

0.5
Rating
Plenty of modes
Plenty of fighters
Plenty of problems
Lame fighting system
Subpar delivery
Too easy
Bad Career mode