The Ninjabot

Categorized | Games Editorial

Rocky’s Video Game Legacy

Posted on December 11, 2015 at 8:35 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson


This Thanksgiving, Rocky Balboa returned to the big screen in the movie “Creed,” where he trains the son of his deceased friend Apollo Creed. The movie, which the critics absolutely loved, brings Balboa back into public consciousness, a place where he originated when “Rocky” was released in 1976.

Nowadays if you go online you can buy your own “Italian Stallion” boxing robe (or Ivan Drago’s, if you favor). The Internet is filled with other merchandise from T-shirts, posters and mugs, to action figures and dolls. “Rocky” is such a part of the public consciousness that “Rocky” has his own slot machine alongside similar games for Captain America, Spiderman and King Kong. Yes, he’s that popular even today, so much so that he continues to appear on a platform with some of the biggest names in pop culture.

Just about everything has already been said about the “Rocky” movies from ranking them as movies to discussing the training montages to ranking the villains Rocky faced. There is one item though that hardcore sports gamers might remember, although they likely already forgot it happened: the Rocky Legends video game.

In 2002, to coincide with the release of “Rocky Balboa,” Venom Games and MGM Interactive released a video game based on the “Rocky” movie franchise. In the game, which was available for Xbox and Playstation 2, users controlled Rocky and had him climb through the boxing ranks, or become other main characters in the “Rocky” franchise.

The game tried to mirror the boxing-based plots of each movie, but it had a fatal flaw in its planning: there wasn’t much actual boxing in the “Rocky” movies. In each movie, Rocky has one big fight and one villain. We never see Rocky go through the progression to the top. In the first movie, he’s a nobody given a great chance and he makes the most of it.

So what the video game did was try to fill in some of these gaps, creating imaginary fighters to drum up drama for the player. Users could also play as Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago and go through similar backstories leading to their fights with Rocky, but even those stories are limited. As Clubber Lang, for instance, your character must win a prison fight, win a few small-time matches and then beat Rocky.

As for the critics’ opinions, they weren’t that into it. It has an overall review score of 73/100, which makes it an essentially average and forgettable game. And anyone who’s played it would certainly agree.

It also didn’t help that this game emerged around the time of Knockout Kings and Fight Night, both of which were superior boxing games. If a gamer wanted to rule the ring, he was best served playing one of these games and creating someone that looked like himself or taking over the career of a real fighter. While the fighting controls were better, there was also more character investment. A player would have to win 12 to 15 fights (at least) before getting a title chance, giving the matches more weight.

The only redeeming quality of Rocky Legends was the ability to play as characters from the movies, but with limited storytelling and below average gameplay, the idea of Rocky as a video game never quite made it to the top.

Who knows, maybe “Creed” can turn things around—you know, if the film gets its own proper game. If not, at least the mobile offering is pretty damn fun (and free to play).

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