MMA has to be the hardest sport to turn into a video game because of the number of techniques in different styles of martial arts. It was also considered barbaric when the UFC was in its dark ages. To the mainstream, MMA was just two tattooed dudes beating each other up in a cage. However, the sport is now more mainstream than it ever has been. UFC is now on ESPN and there are a ton of other organizations putting on fights.
Sports such as boxing and football have had video games since the Atari 2600. But we never got to see MMA games on arcades or 16-bit consoles such as the Super Nintendo. This is because MMA was still a new and niche sport during the 1990s. A game based on MMA wouldn’t occur until the sixth generation of consoles. Ultimate Fighting Championship was released for the Dreamcast and it brought both the UFC and MMA into 3D gaming.
Creating a video game featuring the intricacies of MMA is hard, but an MMA game on a handheld seems even more difficult. However, in 2000, Crave Entertainment published the only MMA game for the Game Boy Color.
The game’s roster features 8 playable fighters but all of them play exactly the same. As a representation of mixed martial arts, UFC does a bad job. Submissions in the game don’t exist and the only form of a ground game is when a fighter mounts his opponent. Striking consists of pressing B for kicks and A for punches. That’s about it. The goal is to simply deplete your opponent’s health bar until it’s empty.
The animations of the fighters are actually not that bad. The most impressive thing about the game is the scene that occurs before a bout begins. A large sprite of Bruce Buffer stands in the center of the octagon and introduces the fighters. UFC for the Game Boy Color is understandably not a good game nor a great adaption of mixed martial arts. The developers could not cram the moves of boxing, wrestling, and jiu-Jitsu onto the Game Boy’s A and B buttons. However, UFC gives us a glimpse at what an adaption of MMA might’ve looked like in earlier generations of consoles where graphics were predominately 2D sprites.