Rumble Roses Review (PS2)
Wrestling - you either love it or hate it. It’s had ups and downs throughout the decades. At one point in the late 80’s someone decided that a woman’s wrestling program showing some skin and taking itself seriously would work. That name of this program was "GLOW", AKA the "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling". If you never heard of it, then you should consider yourself lucky. The ladies didn’t wrestle well, didn’t sell their moves well, and basically made it painful to watch. But being the teenager that I was, I continued to watch it, just to see the ladies.
Konami has taken a chance in releasing a wrestling game using essentially the same premise as that old show; and thanks to the advancement in technology in the video game industry; they have been able to create a game that doesn’t have the same issues as that old TV program - mainly the selling of moves and actual wrestling. Konami has also taken a chance releasing this wrestling game during the fall/holiday season; where the most anticipated games of the year are often released. "Halo 2", "GTA: San Andreas", "Metal Gear Solid 3" – all these games are taking a huge portion of the gaming sales and leaving other games sitting there, never to be purchased.
I digress. "Rumble Roses" is a game that most people will not even think twice about picking up, but it's a pretty good wrestling game. Whether this game has enough to warrant a purchase from you, however, is a decision that I hope to help you make.
"Rumble Roses" uses a modified version of the Yukes wrestling engine, used in the "Smackdown" games (which of course was taken from the venerable "All Japan Pro Wrestling" series. Those who are used to "Smackdown" will get used to the controls within 30 minutes. There are just enough differences to make the game feel differently than "Smackdown". The main modes are Exhibition and Story. You also have an options screen to change different settings, such as audio levels, and difficulty. You'll also have access to the Gallery mode. This mode is basically just to show off all the girls. You can read their bios, listen to their music entrances, hear the one-liners they spout off in the ring, and of course, you're able to zoom in on the girls while they “stretch” for you. You unlock each wrestler’s gallery in the Exhibition mode ( more on that in a moment). I found it funny that when you are going to go look at the wrestlers' gallery, the game asks you if you are sure you want to do so. I assume some might think it’s a bit too much for the kiddies, so take note.
First, the Story mode; There are 11 wrestlers, and you can unlock their "heel" (bad) or "face" (good) identities and costumes. This will take some time to unlock. Each wrestler has a story which will take you through seven matches. Usually a wrestler’s story will sort of overlap another’s with a few differences. The stories themselves are so cheesy, that I couldn’t help but laugh. When I say "cheesy", I'm talking about a female doctor that's taking parts from other wrestlers to build a super-woman wrestling robot (or something to that effect). There are funny moments, but if you plan to buy this game for it's story mode, you're better off picking up something else. It's overly dramatic and tries to induce a sense of global concern similar to what we see today in the WWE, but these gals actually sound like they're serious, and that makes it even funnier.
Each wrestler has her own move set, which she shares with her alter-ego. Some wrestlers have the same type of submission holds, but for the most part, each girl plays differently from the next. Your basic punch, kick, grapple, and counter moves are all in there. You also have three different finishers (Humiliations, Lethals, and Killers) for each girl, a modified limb damage system, and four different weapons to choose from. Learning moves doesn’t take long, and the moves are executed well and are sold well. You must learn to counter, or the AI will beat you down. But at the same time, if you're good, you can simply knock the “panties” (pun intended) off the AI. You can work parts of the body and do damage so you can later try for a submission. This leads to one of my main complaints about the game - submissions seem far too effective. Putting the game on the hardest difficulty level alleviated most of this, however. You can literally repeat the same submission move over and over again and make your opponent tap out within minutes. The AI will counter some of the grabs, but if the wrestler is down, you can have your way with them. Again, the problem mostly goes away at the hardest level because of the AI’s ramped-up ability to counter your attacks.
The other mode (Exhibition) is a bit more than the name implies. Anything unlocked in exhibition mode is only unlocked for this mode. Here, you'll have basic one-on-one matches, mud wrestling matches, and you can compete against other wrestlers and use "Rumble Roses'" "vow" system. Basically, this system will allow you to pick up to three different types of “agreements” to try to accomplish in order to gain percentage points. With enough points, you will be able to challenge the champion for a title match, which in turn will let you unlock more goodies( galleries if you win), and you may also defend the title ( which unlocks more locations for each wrestler). Depending on the vow agreements you selected, you can turn your wrestler from heel to face, It’s refreshing. You can even pit the computer against itself to see who the strongest fighter truly is.
All in all, the wrestling is what you would likely expect, and is actually better than a lot of the wrestling games on the market today. If you can get past the all-girl show and get over the Velveeta-style storylines, then you have a deep and complex wrestling game. Unfortunately, after you are done unlocking everything and going through all the stories, there really isn’t much else left other than the occasional exhibition match.
GRAPHICS & AUDIO
Now there are games that look good, and there are games that look really good. This game, as difficult as it may seem to grasp, looks really good. The women move in a frightfully realistic manner. From the intros - in which you can see a ninja jumping off a giant toad (what?), to watching a wrestler come riding in on a horse, the realistic motions from each combatant are a sight to see. This same movement is also displayed in-game. The women gyrate in all the right places, and for the male audience, you will only be able to just stare at times. Granted, they're over the top gyrations, and frankly, it doesn’t really affect the ability to play, but it's there - and you will notice it. They leave something to the imagination, and I am sure this was Konami’s intent. The women are beautifully rendered, and they will display emotions depending on whether they are beating up an opponent or getting their clocks cleaned. The backgrounds are fully rendered, and the crowds look good, if a bit sparse.
The wrestler intros are all unique and last a good minute or so, but eventually you will grow tired of them. Very few "jaggies", if any, are seen while playing. The moves are executed realistically, and in a very fluid motion. There were no frame rate drops that I could find.
The sound is a bit of a mixed bag. The voice acting is not great, and actually at times, it's downright pathetic. Don’t expect the women talking to have their lips moving with the dialogue. Sometimes I can’t even tell when the wrestler is thinking out load or speaking to the opponent! They have their standard grunts and moans when getting attacked. The women also have a basic set of dialogues which they blurt out when they are being set up on a move, or going for a killer move, or the like. These also get repetitive, but not so annoying that you have to turn it off.
There is no announcing team. The crowds and intro explosions sound decent. You won't be humming any of the game's music when you're out on the town.
Here, you'll get basic one-on-one wrestling. You can select the wrestler, the location and not much else. No tag team, no online play, nothing. The game is fun if you are playing with friends, but as I mentioned before, once you're done unlocking everything, if you don’t have friends to play with, then you won't have a reason to play anymore.
Well, if you made it this far then I can assume you might still be interested in the game. If your money is budgeted for other titles, then I can't recommend this over other games; but if you enjoy wrestling games and have some cash lying around, I would at least consider renting it before you buy. The wrestling aspect of it is good, very good in most cases, but the overall package feels shallow in the end. There are too few modes, not enough worthy unlockables, and no type of extended functionality, such as a create-a-wrestler - and this brings down the longevity of what would otherwise be a quality game.