reviews\ Dec 3, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Rocky - GBA - Review

In 1976 Sylvester Stallone created a movie legend. Rocky Balboa went on to star in several feature films with legions of fans following each twist and turn in his rags-to-riches-to-rags life. Who could hear the opening strains of Bill Conti’s theme without thinking of Rocky gulping down egg yolks or racing up museum stairs?

More than a quarter of a century later, the Rocky legend has made it to the GameBoy Advance, thanks to Rage and Ubi Soft. Though this is a two-dimensional game with side-scrolling fights, the game does do a commendable job of following the five movie storylines. How the fights wind up though is entirely up to the player.

The game features modified cutscenes, featuring film dialogue and stylized images from the films that propel the story along. It begins with Apollo Creed looking for a worthy opponent for his upcoming bout in Philadelphia. Those who have seen the film know how it goes. He settles for Rocky because of his nickname, The Italian Stallion.

"Apollo Creed versus the Italian Stallion ­ sounds like a monster movie."

Cut to Rocky and his battle with Spider Rico. You will be unable to move along game’s path without first defeating Spider. Because the game mirrors the movie, you have the opportunity to fight through all the opponents Rocky got to face in the films. However, before you can progress to the fight, you have to go to training. You can auto train, but the results are sketchy.

In training, you can work the speed bag, the heavy bag or on pads. The CPU gives you orders which in turn you must execute as quickly as possible. This is all under a time limit. Failure to complete the commanded key combinations results in less than satisfactory training and could affect you in the next fight.

So you work the heavy bag and the pads in order to hit 15 grueling rounds against Rico. A knockdown is counted and you have to try to get up off the canvas before the fight ends. Each round is scored on a 10-point must system. The winner of the round gets 10 points. After 10 of the 15 scheduled rounds, if you are behind, you may have a tough time catching up unless you score a knockout.

Other fight modes within the game include exhibition, knockout (this is a tourney that is unlocked after you complete the movie mode), and versus (head-to-head against another player via a GameLink).

The game screen has two bars for each fighter, a blue bar measuring your fighter’s stamina, and the energy bar. When the latter is depleted you are going to kiss the mat.

Graphically this game is rather flat. The fighter portraits bear some resemblance to the movie counterparts, but the animation is a little jerky. The action is intense though. Just wading forward and trying to go toe-to-toe with your opponent is one way to lose. The game does a good job with the cutscenes, though they are stagnant.

The game’s sound is good, and not only delivers the theme music, but other sounds associated with the movies are there for the ride.

The controls will take time to get thoroughly under control. You can jab, jab, then throw a hook, but learning to uppercut for effect is acquired through work. There also seems to be some slight lag between stabbing the keys and seeing Rocky throw the punch. The opponent may be open for that body shot from the right hand, but on several occasions, after stabbing the appropriate keys, the punch was delayed until after the moment was gone.

Rocky is a good game that brings back fond movie memories. This is clearly not the best-looking fight program for this console, but it is very challenging and entertaining.

This game is rated for Everyone.


Gameplay: 7
There seems to be some lag between sending commands and having them actualized onscreen. There is a routine to go through in order to get to the fight (you must train), and the 15-round bouts can be very challenging. The game is also loaded with cutscenes that may advance the story but do interrupt game flow.

Graphics: 6.8
The graphics are flat, and some of the movement is jerky. The game is relatively colorful, and does feature some classic still photos from the movie series.

Sound: 7
This element is a little better than most games, featuring the classic Rocky theme and some of the sound bites from the films.

Difficulty: Medium
The controls will take time to get a solid handle on, and the fights get progressively harder.

Concept: 8
The idea of linking all the feature films together for one long boxing career is very good. Though the game seems a little awkward on this platform (as opposed to a straightforward arcade boxing game), the GBA does handle the chore reasonably well.

Multiplayer: N/A
The game does allow players to battle one another through the GameLink system.

Overall: 6.9
The concept carries the day on this game. It is not the best fight game on the platform, but taking a popular icon and retelling the story through the fights is wonderful. This game has been released on other platforms and may perform better there. On the GameBoy the controls are a little ponderous and the graphics are flat. Rocky fans will enjoy this game. Fight fans will like the challenge. Graphics fans will want to stay away from this title.

Above Average

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