Not since the early days of the Sega Master System have we had the pleasure of such a classic boxing endorsement. This overly-simple 8-bit, 2D boxing sim allowed players to be the Italian Stallion himself and take to the ring in bouts against all his well-known opponents - high punch, low punch, block - hammer all the buttons as hard as you can. Well, that was then and this is now, and, thankfully, gaming technology has come on quite a bit since then.
The premise remains the same though - take control of everybody's favourite comeback king and guide him through an extensive career, visiting familiar locales and encountering the full cast of opponents from the series of films. Starting out in a decrepit old church hall, early bouts are none-too taxing, featuring no-hopers such as Spider Rico and Dipper Brown. That is until Apollo Creed steps in and the learning curve takes a slightly more obtuse angle, as we come up against big boys like Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago.
The combat itself is fairly easy to pick up, offering instant access to the range of punches, blocks and dodging manoeuvres, which are perfectly adequate for the first couple of ties. To succeed any further, however, it is pretty essential that the game's combos be mastered, so a visit to the game's sparring mode is definitely recommended.
A very commendable aspect to Rocky is the game's attention to detail. The animation is fluid and realistic throughout, and a facial damage engine really makes the boxers look like they've been smacked about considerably. Throw in the game's over-the-top sound effects and it all makes for a greatly satisfying experience.
Rocky the game is extremely faithful to Rocky the film. From the minute that well-known theme kicks off right at the beginning to the overacted, Hollywood-ised fight sequences that feature throughout, developer Rage have done a great job in recreating the gutter-to-glory feel of the 1980's movies.