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Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: PLAION
Developer: Survios
Release Date: Sept. 3, 2021


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PS4 Review - 'Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions'

by Cody Medellin on Sept. 3, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is an all-new arcade boxing game which features legendary characters from MGM’s classic Creed and Rocky film franchises.

Buy Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions

If you want to get an idea of how popular the idea of a boxing video game is now, consider this. In the seven years that the PS4 has been on the market, only three boxing games have been released for the system. When you omit the games that were strictly for the PSVR, that number dwindles down to zero. When you realize that just about every major video game platform has had at least one or two boxing games appear in the platform's first few years of existence, this predicament speaks to the popularity of boxing video games — and the sport itself. That drought finally ends with the release of Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions.

It should be noted from the get-go that Big Rumble Boxing adheres to arcade-style boxing rather than a simulation style. For example, there's no stamina meter, so button-mashers and boxing rookies can easily jump in and have a field day. Such players will be crushed by those who use blocks and dodges and slip counters effectively, so it still adheres to the arcade mantra of a game being easy to learn but difficult to master. You have two punch buttons — one for basic punches and one for power punches — and each one has five different attacks, depending on which direction (if any) you're pairing it with. As demonstrated in many fighting games with simple button schemes, that's enough for players to bust out some pretty strong combos.

What players will find interesting is how the boxing formula is now mixed with some fighting game conventions. The block meter depletes whenever you block a hit, and if the meter drains completely, opponents get a free opening for a punch. Players also have a powered-up punch that can break through a block but takes a while to wind up and execute. Landing successful punches builds a meter that lets you execute a super punch that takes a significant chunk of the opponent's health. It also knocks down the opponent, but that doesn't count as an actual knockdown unless the player's health is drained. Getting knocked down still initiates the expected minigame of you mashing a button to build yourself back up before the 10 count, but three knockdowns in a round doesn't lead to an instant TKO. Instead, it takes four knockdowns to accomplish that feat, unless you modify the options.

The mechanics and vibe make the game sound like a spiritual successor to the old Ready 2 Rumble Boxing games from Midway but more amplified. The rounds go by quickly, since they're 60 seconds by default, but it still feels like ample time. Punches are thrown quickly, and while every fighter has a different arsenal of punches, there aren't too many differences between them. Thanks to the lack of stats, there's no notion that one is weaker than the other or that you picked a big, slow brute to go up against a lithe, speedy fighter. The conceit works for the known characters and the ones created for the game, so there's no way to pick a wrong boxer.

As far as gameplay modes go, Big Rumble Boxing keeps it basic. There's a Training mode to let you practice moves against a programmable sparring partner. If you're expecting the How to Play section to be an interactive tutorial, prepare for disappointment, as it's simply a series of cards listing out moves and certain situations. Versus mode provides the ability to tweak some options, like number of knockdowns and the length of each round, but don't expect any online play since this is a local-only affair between two players or one player and a CPU opponent.

Arcade mode is where solo fighters will spend their time. It could've been a throwaway mode where players are given random opponents as they fight their way up the ladder, but the developers decided to craft a story for each character. Pick Rocky Balboa, for example, and he'll reminisce about his past fights and add a tinge of humor during the cut scenes. Pick someone like the original character Scraps, however, and you'll get what can be best described as a nonsensical but funny tale. You can tell that the developers had fun crafting some of these narratives, so you'll find yourself wanting to play as every character just to see the lighthearted tales.

If there's a misfire, it's in the training montages that almost every fighter has to go through. To be fair, the minigames are fun; you'll hit alternating buttons to run on the treadmill, hit buttons in the correct order on a punching bag, or pound on giant slabs of meat with specific punches. Their presence makes it feel like you're playing out one of the famous "Rocky/Creed" movies, but your performance doesn't have an effect on your fights. It is a shame that you can only play these in the Arcade mode; having this available beyond Arcade mode would've helped to flesh out the roster of modes.

Only half of the roster is available from the beginning, but dedicated players should find themselves with a full roster in no time. The setup may trigger some memories (both good and bad) for those who were fighting game fans during the PS One and PS2 console generations, but Big Rumble Boxing offers more than one avenue to unlock the rest of the game. Those who tackle the Arcade mode can unlock characters and costumes via that route, similar to those aforementioned fighting games. Those who simply jump into Versus mode won't be left behind, as every fight brings the player one step closer to unlocking a new fighter or costume; players of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be very familiar with this method.

Like the rest of the game, the presentation is flawed but charming. The character designs don't go with a completely realistic look for the boxers, so while Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed look recognizable, their style fits well with the game's cast of original characters. The backgrounds are also quite good, with little details like posters of the characters in the various gyms. All of this runs at 60fps with no slowdown, which is fantastic all around.

As for the audio, things start off well with the music, as almost all of the songs taken from the franchise's history play throughout the matches and the menus for a cinematic feel. The voice work is where things start to fall away. Getting Michael B. Jordan to reprise his role is a big achievement, and the voices for the original characters are nice, but the ones emulating the movie's characters are more hit-and-miss. Another miss is the fact that the voices are only used during the fights, so those playing Arcade mode will just see text blurbs for those cut scenes.

Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions is a pleasant surprise for fans of arcade-style boxing games. It might not overflow with modes, and the lack of online play hurts, but the Arcade mode offers some well done, if ridiculous stories. The mechanics are simple to understand but deep, allowing for some technically smart fights to occur. In the end, the game won't go down as a classic, but it provides a fun experience and would be a good addition to your local versus game lineup.

Score: 7.5/10

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