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After a 15-year hiatus, the Italian Stallion returns to video games courtesy of British developer and publisher Rage Software, who secured the Rocky license from MGM Interactive to help commemorate the film's 25-year anniversary. The game draws its lineup of 30 boxers from each of the five films making up the series, including five versions of star Rocky Balboa as well as opponents Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, and Tommy Gunn. Four modes of play include Exhibition, Movie, Knockout Tournament, and Sparring.
The action takes place from a default side-view perspective as players wear down their opponents by performing a series of jabs, uppercuts, and straight punches to the head or body. Blocks, dodges, and evasive dodges are available to escape harm's way, and knockout blows are inflicted by a fighter's super punch. Two meters, health and punch power, are depicted along the top of the screen, with the latter filled by holding back punches. Exhibition Mode lets players select their boxers, venue, round length, number of rounds, and computer skill level (novice, contender, or champ) as they challenge a friend or the computer to a single bout.
Movie Mode has players embarking on a career as Rocky himself, developing his skills in between bouts by selecting one of five training exercises in strength, speed, stamina, determination, or movement. To improve strength, players can don the punch mitts as trainer Mickey Goldmill yells out which punch to throw. Speed bag involves timing and rhythm as players alternate swings in an attempt to keep a horizontal meter within a target zone. Skipping has Rocky jumping rope by pressing a button whenever the rope nears his feet, sit-ups involves rapidly tapping two buttons, and heavy bag has players throwing specific combos at highlighted areas.
Once players complete Movie Mode, the Knockout Tournament will become available. Up to 16 players compete as they move up the ranks by winning their assigned bouts until only one remains. Sparring Mode consists of practicing punches against a standing, moving, or fighting computer opponent. With a memory card, players can view their top scores in each of the training games as well as their punch accuracy, punch speed, and fastest KO from the Records menu. Also available is a Gallery option where movie footage can be viewed for each of the five MGM films. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide