Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
After his success in the four United Artists films, Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) gets the chance to parade his red, white and blue shorts in Sega's officially licensed Rocky game.
The action starts with a one or two-player option, where selection of the one-player mode begins Rocky's challenge for the title. Before a fight he undergoes a strenuous training session. In the two-player mode, the second person is given the chance to take the role of Rocky's opponents - Creed, Lang and Drago - and there's no pre-bout training.
Three training sessions are entered, each one taking place before a match, with the purpose of endowing Rocky with the necessary skills to beat each opponent. The objective is to 'qualify' from the session by achieving a set amount of hits within the time limit. The sand bag improves Rocky's punching power in readiness for his fight against Creed; the punching ball improves punching speed for the bout against Lang, and finally the punching mitts improve the accuracy of Rocky's punch for the Drago match. Although the training can be skipped, Rocky will not be 'energised', and the other guys are likely to make mincemeat of him.
During a bout, there are several punches available to the player, including uppercut, hook and straight-on punch. The match consists of 15 rounds, each split into three minute bouts, with a one minute interval at the end of each.
Energy is displayed as two power meters at the top of the playing screen, one for each boxer. As each successful punch connects with a rival, the power decreases accordingly. If however, the other player's energy is low, a knockdown punch sees them eating canvas and taking a count of ten to recover. Should they beat the count, another two knockdowns during that bout results, in a KO, and the end of the game. If the match goes the whole 15 rounds, a winning decision is awarded by the judges.
Two Mega Cartridge; £24.95
The immediate impression of Rocky is that it doesn't look like a Sega game: the intro screen is smart, the backdrops are effective (especially as the lights drop around the ringside) and the main sprites are great; very realistic and fairly smooth in operation - even the sprite flicker is limited. Control is nice and simple, although you often have to be quite fast to connect a punch before your opponent, and later contenders prove quite a handful. The training sequences are a somewhat limited and add little to the overall gameplay, which is at its best in the ring. A decent boxing game, marred only by its lasting appeal.