Title Defense (lost build of cancelled boxing simulation game; 2000-2001)
Title Defense is a cancelled boxing game developed by Climax Studios. Designed as a realistic boxing simulation game, it was set for release on the PC and the sixth generation consoles in early-2001, before being cancelled for unknown reasons.
Title Defense was first announced by Climax Studios in a press release on 9th March 2000. Climax felt that Title Defense would fill a void for boxing fans seeking a simulation alternative, with its president, Karl Jerrfrey, insisting that "Historically, there has never been a truly great boxing game." Intended for the PC and the upcoming sixth generation consoles like the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube (then known under prototype name Dolphin), the game aimed to maximise realism while retaining the engaging nature of arcade-based counterparts like Ready 2 Rumble Boxing. Among realism features pushed by Climax included high-resolution graphics consisting of over 5,000 polygons for each boxer, a "fluid control system", a career mode boasting a realistic climb from the bottom to the top of boxing, AI that reflects boxer styles and damage inflicted and taken, and interaction when it came to the referee, crowd, and commentary. In interviews with IGN and Game Interviews, Climax's business development manager Chris Eden believed that Title Defense would stand-out compared to Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and EA's Knockout Kings series through its realistic physics models reflecting an actual boxing match, and for a highly developed AI system. The game was fully hand-drawn animated, Eden claiming this proved more beneficial than relying on motion capture.
The game, one of the first to be announced for the Xbox and GameCube according to issue 222 of Computer and Video Games, was also slated to have online functionality. During an interview with Eden in the June 2000 issue of DC-UK, Eden claimed Climax was working on a virtual world for at least the Dreamcast version that would enable players to compete in several virtual organisations with ranking systems, and connect with friends to compete in sparring sessions. Eden mentioned in Game Interviews that online functionality depended on what platforms it publisher wanted to support, with the Dreamcast first being selected before developing for other platforms. It is unclear whether any online mode was incorporated into the Dreamcast build prior to cancellation, though based on screenshots in the aforementioned gaming magazines, Title Defense had gone through significant development by May 2000. Nevertheless, it still had more to incorporate, with one screenshot noting the absence of fans in the stadium. Upcoming features included a Manager mode, where players could manage a stable of boxers, in addition to competing with them in bouts. No real-life boxers would be included into the game, as EA had already acquired the licences for Knockout Kings.
DC-UK stated that the Dreamcast version was slated for a January 2001 release, with the other ports being released around the same time period. However, despite the previews in mid-2000, the Dreamcast port was seemingly quietly cancelled. It is possible that Climax ended development as the Dreamcast became a commercial failure, the console eventually being discontinued by Sega on 31 March 2001. This explains why other upcoming Climax Dreamcast games like Austin Powers Mojo Rally, Roswell Conspiracies, and Stunt Driver were also ultimately shelved. However, Title Defense would also go unreleased for the remaining platforms, for reasons yet to be explained. The Dreamcast Junkyard attempted to contact Climax to enquire on Title Defense's development and cancellation, but received no response.
Despite the progress made with Title Defense, none of the unfinished ports have ever publicly resurfaced. Further, no footage of the game was ever released during previews, though various screenshots were published in gaming magazines and online. These remain the only remnants of the game to be publicly available, helping to showcase Title Defense's development prior to cancellation. On April 13, 2023, YouTube video game preservationist PtoPOnline uploaded a video showing off a build of the game dated to April 1999.
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- Bill Lewis vs Freddie Baxter and Archie Sexton vs Laurie Raiteri (lost television coverage of boxing matches; 1933)
- Corbett and Courtney Before the Kinetograph (partially found early boxing film; 1894)
- England vs Ireland (lost television coverage of boxing matches; 1937)
- Exhibition Boxing Bouts (lost early television coverage of boxing matches; 1931-1932)
- The Fighting Marine (lost Gene Tunney drama film serial; 1926)
- Gene Tunney vs Jack Dempsey (lost radio coverage of boxing match; 1926)
- Gene Tunney vs Jack Dempsey (partially lost radio coverage of "The Long Count Fight"; 1927)
- Georges Carpentier vs Ted "Kid" Lewis (lost radio coverage of boxing match; 1922)
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- Jack Dempsey vs Georges Carpentier (lost radio coverage of boxing match; 1921)
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- Johnny Ray vs Johnny Dundee (lost radio coverage of boxing match; 1921)
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- Leonard-Cushing Fight (partially found early boxing film; 1894)
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- Archived Climax Studios website announcing the game. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- IGN reporting on the game's announcement. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- The Dreamcast Junkyard detailing the game's coverage for an ultimately cancelled Dreamcast version. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- Archived Game Interviews interview with Eden. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- IGN interview with Eden. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- Issue 222 of Computer and Video Games summarising Title Defense and stating it would be released in early-2001. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- June 2000 issue of DC-UK previewing the game. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- IGN preview of the Xbox version, noting the possible inclusion of Manager mode and slating the game for a 2001 release. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- GameSpot reporting on the Dreamcast being discontinued. Retrieved 10th Jan '23
- Unseen 64 summarising Title Defense. Retrieved 10th Jan '23