Rocky Boxing is a polished game that captures some of the essence of its namesake, but it just can't go the distance in the end. In Rocky, you guide the Italian Stallion through training, sparring, and fighting against three of his most notorious rivals, Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago. The problem is that you'll be done with this game before you can slur out your first "Yo Adrian," and since the boxing itself is the least compelling aspect of the game, there's little reason to go back to it afterward.
There are five different modes in Rocky Boxing. The first is training, which is effectively like a game of Simon, except you characteristically pound out punches against a slab of meat by repeating the number sequences put forth by the computer. It's a little simpler than Simon, with only three buttons to choose from instead of four. If you complete the training by properly inputting up to a 15-number sequence correctly, you are rewarded with a slight increase in your stamina bar. The second mode is sparring, which replicates a full fight, except that the opponent is much easier and that winning a sparring match will also reward you with an increase in stamina. This is all to prepare you for the matches against Creed, Lang, and Drago, who you can fight in any order, although they are proportionally more difficult by order of their appearance in the movies.
The game's boxing play consists of three punch buttons, which execute a jab, a hook, and an uppercut. You can also move left and right in the ring, and defend against oncoming punches. The buttons are responsive, and punches can be executed randomly or in one of five preset combos. The problem with the fighting is that there's no challenge. The best strategy is to hit all of the buttons randomly to whittle away at your enemy's health bar. Should the enemy gain the momentum in the match, you can merely move to the side a bit, or block and then begin mashing at all the punch buttons again. This nonstrategy will win you every fight in the first round. The only reason to go back and play them again is if for some reason you feel compelled to play against your own time, which is listed in the high-score menu. Otherwise, there seems to be no other reason to go through with it. After winning any one of the modes, you are returned to the main menu to pick another, without any sense of linearity or reason.
The graphics are very good on the LG VX7000, from the in-game avatars to the movie stills that get displayed when you win a fight. Mickey even makes an appearance--in just the form of a head--to give you advice on the different modes. All of these little details contribute to the atmosphere, which is very true to the license, except for the boxing itself. The sound, although disappointingly lacking Eye of the Tiger, is adequate. The sound effects themselves are well done, even if the main theme leaves something to be desired.
Rocky is full of polish and character, but with such a boring fighting mechanic, it doesn't fully execute the one-two punch. If you're a fan of the Rocky franchise and are looking for a boxing game, Rocky Boxing is a thoughtful enterprise. But for a more rigorous gameplay experience, you might need to look somewhere else.