Let me start off by saying WOW! What a wonderful surprise Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions turned out to be. When I heard the development studio Survios (creators of VR game Creed: Rise of Glory) were making a non-VR arcade boxing game with the official Rocky licensing, I knew it could only go one of two ways. It’s either another underwhelming use of the IP or the arcade button-mashing boxing game that we’ve always wanted in the Rocky universe. Thankfully, Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is the latter.
When starting up, we are greeted with the iconic right to left title scroll showing boxing action in the background. You get a glimpse at some of the boxers such as Rocky, Apollo Creed, Ivan Drago, and Adonis Creed. Once I was at the main menu and heard Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now”, tears of joy filled my eyes. I haven’t even started playing and already my hands are getting clammy around the controller due to my excitement.
Yo Adrian, I’m Finally In A Fun Boxing Game!
There are only 3 game modes to choose from including the following:
- Arcade (story mode)
- Versus (only local play)
It’s pretty obvious that Arcade is the main mode and completing each boxer story will unlock another boxer to play in the other two modes. We can choose from 10 playable boxers. Each boxer is from either the Rocky or Creed films. There are also another 10 boxers to unlock. Besides these additional boxers, you will also unlock alternate attires and boxing arenas. So yes, what I just described may sound a bit light on content, especially compared to modern gaming expectations such as having multiplayer and a create a boxer mode, etc. I agree these are valid arguments, but I fully see what Survios was trying to achieve which is to tell us every Rocky / Creed story in one game and they absolutely nailed it!
The first boxer that I selected was of course Rocky. The story is presented and told in a centered conversational text box with a stylish image of your boxer on the left and your opponent on the right. These images will change accordingly to coincide with the conversation. This story presentation format is common in classic JRPG. There is no voice acting besides the occasional grunts or one-liner. In my story, Rocky is retired and the version we have seen in the Creed films. He is talking to Adonis about his career as a boxer and some of the not-so-great steps he took along his path to the top.
Before every fight, Rocky would discuss in detail what was going on in his life at the time physically & mentally. If you take the time to read each back and forth exchange, you will realize that they are telling us the entire story from Rocky 1 through 4. This applies to all the other boxers including the unlockable. Now, this form of storytelling only works if the writing is done well. I’ve completed the Arcade mode with multiple boxers and each story was told with sincerity toward the source material. This game is actually telling you a legit story for every character within the Rocky film franchise. With that said, these conversations can be lengthy but fulfilling. Once the story has been told, it’s time to RUMBLE!!!
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions gameplay and in-ring presentation are reminiscent of the beloved “Ready 2 Rumble” which was developed and published by Midway Games back in 1999 and its sequel in 2000. The control layout is simple which is ideal for an arcade boxing game and includes the following:
- Left Stick or D-Pad – Move your boxer
- Square – Throw left & right punches
- Triangle – Perform a strong attack (each boxer has their own unique attack)
- Circle – Grab your opponent to dish out some insane uppercuts
- Cross – Dash front, back, left-right
- R1 & R2 both perform the same block function
- L1 – Perform special attack
That’s it! You can mix up the square and triangle buttons along with your movements to create some fun combos and in doing so, you build up your special attack meter. The action is frantic. You will want to button mash square and triangle until your thumb is numb, but you will quickly realize that you must strategize your strikes. I wouldn’t go as far as saying each boxer has a pattern, but I will say they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you time your blocks just right, it will parry your opponent’s fist leaving him open to attack. A flurry of strikes can also daze your opponent causing him to put his arms down. Both fighters will kiss the mat multiple times with no 10 counts issued. The only time you truly count the lights is when your health bar is fully depleted. At this point, you have to button mash square to fill a circle in order to get up. The more times you get knocked down, the harder it is to get back up.
Overall, the gameplay felt solid and responsive. Special moves can be blocked or avoided if timed correctly. My only complaint is that when your opponent is evading an attack, he can get behind you and land some serious strikes to the back of your head. There is no way to block these strikes and the process of turning around is automatic so we have no control or way to block such attacks. This is something that I hope is patched or removed if possible.
The character models are beautifully designed to look like their real-life counterparts. So there are no over-the-top features such as oversized arms and huge heads. Before big matches, there is a mini-game segment in which you are running on a treadmill by rapidly alternating L2 /R2 or punching meat via QTE button prompts. This portion of gameplay is meaningless since you can’t upgrade your boxers’ attributes. A score is issued at the end, but again this doesn’t materialize into anything that will impact the upcoming match. It would be nice if this could be tweaked to generate a stored special attack or something to that effect.
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is an insanely long title, especially since once word spreads about how fun it is the game will just be regarded as Rocky’s arcade boxing. I think Survios is on the right track with the presentation, art design, character models, and gameplay mechanics. I could easily see a future title with real-world boxers and online multiplayer. With that said, if you are a fan of Ready 2 Rumble, Rocky, or both then this is a hands-down must-have game. OH! And of course, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” is in the game.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions for the PS4 provided by Survios.