Rocky Super Action Boxing
The Game: Spin up “Eye Of The Tiger” on your turntable, power up your Colecovision, and get ready to go ten rounds with Clubber Lang. If you think you’re tough enough to take on a digital Mr. T, take a swing at helping Rocky Balboa reign victorious once more. Just be ready to taste the mat along the way too. (Coleco, 1983)
Memories: Alas, my feelings on video boxing are a lot like my feelings on video pinball: once you take either activity into the virtual realm and remove the inherent physicality of it, sure, you might be able to nail the look and sounds of boxing or pinball, or just about any other sport, but in so doing you’ve lost so much of the essence that it’s almost a meaningless exercise. From Activision’s Boxing to Punch-Out!, straight down the line, I’m probably not a great judge of video boxing games. To be fair, I can see where Rocky Super Action Boxing improves on the boxing games that were previously available on the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. It’s a tremendous step up visually, and the added controls of the ColecoVision Super Action Controller – required to play this game – do add more than just “left punch” and “right punch”, which helps.
At the same time…it still falls so short of the nuances of boxing that it winds up being only a minor step up. I’m no expert on the sport, but I do know enough to know that there’s more to it than beating the hell out of the other guy with only one or two moves, and trying to keep yourself from being pummelled with just a couple of blocking moves. (Just getting into one brief fistfight in your entire life will be enough to demonstrate that to you.) Rocky Super Action Boxing adds plenty of visual nuances, including one of the very earliest – if not the earliest – examples of a licensed console game featuring digitized imagery from its parent media (in this case, a relatively simple version of the iconic Rocky movie poster image for the title screen). But it doesn’t add enough nuances to even begin to connect it to boxing in anything other than name.
Feel absolutely free to call it a bias on my part, but I have a hard time giving this one more than two out of five. But in fairness, I haven’t seen anything on more recent hardware that makes me think we’ve evolved much past Rocky Super Action Boxing either. This is a genre that’s still laying on the mat.