Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Release Date: November 09, 2004
Buy 'RUMBLE ROSES': PlayStation 2
Try to see it from the eyes of their programmers. The life of a coder isn’t exactly a glamorous one, you know. It’s often filled with long hours, scary amounts of work, and quite the sacrifice as far as social lives and human contact outside of the workplace is concerned. Many of them sacrifice their very being for months at a time, so that you may have fun.
Now, also note that Yuke’s talented programmers have been making World Wrestling Entertainment video games for over half a decade. The WWE is known for large, sweaty men grappling with each other in a varied number of slightly disturbing ways, forever trying to overpower each other, all the while suffering soap-opera levels of drama, deceit and heartbreak.
Sure, there are always a handful of appealingly proportioned “divas” that make it into any given game, but 90% of every title is a sausage showcase, which follows the same formula, only with differing features.
Shoot, I know I would crack.
I’m surprised we didn’t get this game sooner.
We call this game Rumble Roses I’m sure most of the Yuke’s staff called this a vacation. A chance to let it all hang out. A chance to go crazy. A chance to just do what they felt like.
…either that, or marketing told them to make it. I kind of doubt it, though.
Anyway, I’ve come to an epiphany that may get me ousted from some circles, but it’s better that I get this out of the way now rather than later.
If I were Stranded On A Desert Island(tm), and I had to choose from having either Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball or Rumble Roses to take with me, I’d pick Rumble Roses every single time.
When DOA hit, I, just like everyone else, was wowed by how great it looked, and how it showed tons of girls lounging around in swimsuits without a care in the world. Oh, and the volleyball, gambling and dating sims were all right, too, I suppose. However, while so many people were wondering where the “nude code” was, and/or complaining about the lack of one… I was wondering where the “fight” button was.
I love my pixellated gals as much as the next person, but I’m an action gamer at heart. After I got tired of watching girls on the beach, and playing a few rounds of v-ball, I got tired of the game as a whole. A few other folks attempted to join the fanservice fold shortly after DOA’s release, and in the process we got things like Acclaim's Summer Heat-- and I remember passing them up completely as well.
The sad fact is, it doesn’t take long to get tired of video volleyball, no matter how many sunbathing, embracing girls you dress it up with, or how many swimsuits or minigames you toss in. When all the skin-showing is over and done with… one needs some gameplay to continue to keep themselves occupied.
God help us, Rumble Roses is the first game that realizes this.
It makes sense when you think about it. Yuke’s already had a tried and true wrestling engine, and they know how to craft a game around it. So at the request of Konami, they did—only instead of large sweaty hunks of manmeat, they inserted bodacious babes, added a story mode that surpasses even WWE Day of Reckoning, and filled in the rest of the game with a crazy amount of camp, comedy, and personality.
Oh, and mud wrestling. Can’t forget the mud wrestling. It’s amazing how the innocent-looking mud in this game ends up making the characters looks practically flesh-colored—as in, it’s almost a nude code in itself. You heard none of this from me, by the way.
The wrestling engine itself has actually been simplified for accessibility—things like rope breaks are a thing of the past here. Countering, however, is still in, and while Yuke’s seems to deem it fit to change the countering scheme for every single wrestling game they do, this one actually works out quite well. Pressing a button will give you a strike, and another will give a grapple. R1, however, is the defense button, and will switch the two aforementioned buttons to counters of their respective moves if pressed simultaneously and done with the correct timing.
The AI, as usual, is pretty counter-happy, but not so much so that you have absolutely no fighting chance, especially with the more intuitive counter system. Outside of counters, if you’ve played the Smackdown games, then you’ve played this, only this game has fewer rules attached, fewer wrestling moves, fewer match types, and there is absolutely no create-a-wrestler feature to be found.
Rumble Roses, to its credit, does introduce some game dynamics that are just incredibly nifty and need to make a return. They both revolve around character alignment; in an Exhibition match, you can turn your character into a heel or a face by setting, and then fulfilling, certain conditions in a match (win without blocking or countering, for example). Once your character is good or evil enough, they change to their “alter ego”, which is also unlockable for use in Story Mode. These alter-egos have their own unique movesets, entrances, and stories (though said stories are not as detailed as those of their original versions), and effectively double the character roster.
Still, there’s no beating around the bush here—if you’re looking for a hardcore (and not in that sense) wrestling game, this is not for you. The gameplay and the fanservice are intertwined here—one cannot survive without the other. It is only when you are observing the different personalities, entrances, and characteristic moves of the ladies, combined with the over-the-top atmosphere, and ridiculous stories (the “evil mastermind” is a Sexy Evil Nurse character archetype, and the last boss is a cyborg wrestler lady straight out of 70s sci-fi flicks, for crying out loud) that you realize that you have to take Rumble Roses as a complete package, or not at all. Fortunately, if you do, it’s not one of those decisions that you end up regretting.
Oh, yeah, and the ladies? They look good. Not only do they look good, their dresses, poses and mannerisms run the range of surprisingly ingenious and tasteful to downright scandalous. Got a fetish? Rumble Roses has it covered. Got a thing for naughty schoolteachers? Evil nurses? Cheerleaders? Kunoichi? Karate girls? Army chicks? Cowgirls? This game has your number, and then some.
It also has an attitude that shifts gears back and forth from “respectable game” to “guilty pleasure” a lot. This is a game whose ninja-character has an entrance that is so true to character, your jaw drops—she appears in a puff of smoke on top of a summoned frog, then ninja-streaks into the ring. Of course, one the match starts, it’s quite possible to have her or her opponent do a move that leaves the girls’ legs trapped in a spread-eagled position for the entire crowd to witness. This is indeed a strange beast.
The scary thing is, this is a Playstation 2 game, and yet its characters actually look comparable to their DOA counterparts. The models have been given immense attention to detail and an astronomical polygon count… and it shows, because it’s pretty easy to see that polygons were taken away from the game’s backdrops and surroundings and given to said models as well. Still, as you’ll be paying attention to the lovely ladies most of the time, the lower detail in things like the arenas and fans aren’t something you end up missing a whole lot. This game pushes the PS2 in ways it isn’t normally pushed, and it’s all the better for it.
When the characters open their mouths, however, it’s a slightly different story. Voice-acting is hit-or-miss. Some of it’s not too bad. Other parts make you cringe. The soundtrack, fortunately, is one of the better parts of the game. Each character, be they normal or alter-ego versions, have their own theme songs, a great many of which are keepers. In-match music is less varied, but catchy in its own right. Ambience is also sufficient—you can hear the fans, the splashing of the mud, the sounds of the beach, and the ringing of match bells, but nothing truly stands out here.
From here, all Yuke’s and Konami can do is build on what they have, and truly realize Rumble Roses’s potential. There’s a great foundation here, and the game can only get better. Heck, all they have to do is make this title as full-featured as any of the WWE games that they work on. Individual beachfront entrances for the girls would be nice, not to mention more arenas, more moves, more match types, and a create-a-wrestler system.
If you’re not a fan of the female form, displayed with equal parts taste and shamelessness, lower this score by a point. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy the fanservice, and the neat gameplay and atmosphere that the game tosses in to go with it. This game gets its score due to its melding of concept and execution. There is still much room for improvement, but what is there still manages to be fun and keep one’s attention for hours on end.
At absolute worst, this is a must-rent. It’s just got to be seen to be believed.
It’s done the impossible.