It's not over 'til it's over. Or 'til your hands seize up
Fittingly, given that Rocky Balboa is a boxing game, your hands will be killing you after just a few hectic rounds. It’s not the game’s fault, though; it’s more the fact that PSP requires you to have fully elastic thumbs.
Thankfully, the controls themselves are well laid out, and make the best use of the handheld’s somewhat awkward layout; after time, they become second nature. The face buttons are for your basic punching: Square and Triangle take care of left and right direct smacks, while X and Circle take care of left and right uppercuts. Simple enough. Combine these with the nubbin - which controls your boxer’s body movement, to alter the power and angle of your punches - and hit R at the same time to dodge any unfriendly blows.
So there’s a wide-ranging set of haymakers, jabs, hooks and sucker punches at your disposal. Pushing left on the nubbin while hitting X, for instance, unleashes a mighty left hook that can practically lift an opponent clean off the canvas. Meanwhile, the dodge move fools an opponent into going for you and then leaving himself open to a sudden onslaught. The thing is, with some boxers (especially Rocky), these more powerful blows can be relied upon a little too easily to put the kibosh on a rival, and unbalance fights - especially against human-controlled opponents. There’s little fun knocking your opponent down when you haven’t really earned it.
Power Moods are activated once a succession of meaty blows has been rained down on a fighter, and make the screen go all blurry as your power is increased. It’s a simple form of focus, and can be countered by landing a heavy blow of your own.