A lack of ambition and a modicum of modesty isn’t synonymous with the sport of boxing, but there’s something refreshingly stripped back and bare-boned about Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions.
I don’t say it to damn the game with faint praise, but Survios – developers of the more serious-minded VR game, Creed: Rise to Glory – manage to avoid the pitfalls that many licensed games experience by aiming low but punching with precision.
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is a game content to get the basics right and add just enough franchise flair to elevate the experience into something authentic and appealing.
Arcade Mode is the prime example of the game’s featherweight construction. Each of the 20 playable fighters has a short narrative-focused campaign. Rocky Balboa’s story, for example, sees the iconic boxer recall his career to Adonis Creed. This framing gives players a chance to revisit some of his most famous – and not so famous – movie encounters.
Each match is introduced by an exchange of concisely written dialogue presented through static images, dialogue boxes, and the occasional vocal grunt. It’s not FIFA’s Journey mode, true, but it’s economical and effective. The light visual novel treatment delivers just enough flavour and then the mechanics of boxing take centre stage.
The game in the ring is a winner here. Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is not a boxing simulation, but there’s some depth to the combat and (for the most part) it avoids being a simple button-masher. Punches and grapples take time to master, and managing the Health, Guard, and Super meters is crucial to success.
Teasing the right trigger deploys limited-use Guard Stance and Slip manoeuvres, but defensive acumen isn’t key. It’s better to go on the attack, placing well-timed jabs, performing Ender combos, and landing neon-infused Power Moves when an opening arises.
If you hit the floor – a common occurrence on the highest of the three difficulty levels – you’ll have to spam the Y button to avoid a knockout. It’s Big Rumble Boxing‘s most arcade-like moment, recalling the controller-busting mechanics found in many 80s and 90s sports games.
In my youth, I spent countless summer afternoons playing Rocky on the Sega Master System. Back then, I genuinely thought the graphics were lifelike. They, erm, weren’t, and nor are they here. However, the exaggerated caricatures of Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Dolph Lundgren – to name just a few – are impressive. They look potato solid but move like butter in the ring.
Likewise, the varied locations summon the spirit of the movies, even if they aren’t accurate depictions of the real-life venues. Creed‘s Goodison Park, for example, becomes Hartley Park.
Music is also on point. You’ll hear Gonna Fly Now and Eye of the Tiger often enough, but The Fire by The Roots ft. John Legend and the majestic Waiting for my Moment by Childish Gambino, Vince Staples, Jhené Aiko, and Ludwig Göransson are other highlights. The soundtrack also serves as an excellent background to the game’s mini-game training montages.
A lack of multiplayer modes is the game’s most disappointing stumble. The action still shines, but 1v1 matches are the only option for settling scores with friends and family. Online multiplayer is also absent.
Finally, a training mode lets you practice pixel-perfect pugilism. Helpful on-screen prompts turn the tutorials into a sweaty rhythm game in which each successfully timed input results in a satisfying smack to the body. It’s worth spending time here to uncover some of the game’s more complex combos.
As slight as the overall package may be, Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions rewards players with fluid gameplay and a healthy roster of unlockable fighters and outfits. If you love boxing, you’ll find enough to enjoy. And if you’re a fan of the movies, this Reasonably-sized Humble Boxing game is hard to resist.
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|Series S, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: Out now
Boxing is one of the least served sports in video games – even Handball has an annual franchise – so any competent adaptation will get some attention. Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions isn’t a champion of the genre, but its lean, focused design makes it a strong contender.
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