You, Too, Could Be a Contendah

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Tim Allen would love this game. It's testosterone city. Wimps need not apply.

Electronic Arts' "4D Boxing" simulation is great. You don't even have to like boxing to appreciate what the Canadian game designers at Distinctive Software Inc. have come up with: surely the closest thing to real heavyweight boxing anyone this side of Mike Tyson ought ever to experience.

The action is state-of-the-art. The graphics are beautiful, functional and just a touch bizarre. The music is a kick.

We ran into some major pain loading the game on our 386 SX, but once we limped through that and wiped out portions of our resident programs, learning the game was a snap.

You design your own fighter. You choose his size and weight and other attributes. You build him from a collection of highly stylized body parts that combine into an unusual cubist character.

The result is not a realistic-looking prize fighter; but he does move like one. (The boxers are really just glorified stick figures. Because graphics take up so much computer memory, the designers sacrificed realistic pictures for realistic movement, a practical decision with an intriguing aesthetic result.)

Once you have your fighter built, you then box either another human fighter or a field of 50 computerized contenders on your way to the championship.

The fighters get better and the purses get bigger the higher you go on the ladder.

Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee.

The subject matter of "4D Boxing" may not be to everyone's taste, but this is one of the year's best games.

It is sure to become the game to match for character action, and its graphics could well set a new artistic standard, too.

4D Boxing

Rating: *****

IBM and compatibles; 640K; joystick recommended. List: $49.95.

Computer games are rated on a five-star system, from one star for poor to five for excellent.

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