The original Rumble Roses was an average game that featured a decent fighting system, but glaring issues hurt the overall package. In Rumble Roses XX, Konami tries to rectify those problems, bringing the first wrestling game to the Xbox 360 with rather uninspiring results. Featuring over-the-top women characters, RRXX comes off as less of a wrestling game and more an exercise in futility.
Say what you will, but RRXX never denies its own sleazy attempts at exciting young men. Opening with a terrible Motley Crüe-esque song, the introduction features the characters of the game performing their various moves while attempting to be "sexy." When the first 30 seconds of a game shows you everything that can be seen, that does not bode well. Players are thrown right into character selection, with no real additional help from there. The game has no story mode, so it's tough to get your initial bearings, but everything does center on the locker room, where you can change your character's uniforms, save, and watch your character jump up and down for no apparent reason.
After that, you go into the main selection screen, which is a map where you can select from several options. There are different locations to fight, each one attempting to incorporate something different, which is the first of this game's numerous faults. Although the levels look decent, it's tiring to play on the same ones over and over again, with little variety after the first few matches. Of course, all wrestling matches take place in similar rings, but if you are going to introduce individual wrestlers, shouldn't they have some kind of personal level, similar to every other fighting game ever made? While this might have been done for simplicity's sake, it becomes a very boring retreading of the exact same thing. Why create so many characters to have them all fight in the same five or six arenas? Then again, the ladies are nothing special, so it's not quite as bad as it seems.
I have specifically held off on talking about the characters so far because I wanted to tie it into the graphics. Trying their hardest to take pages from the WWE's lingerie matches, Konami has tried to feature characters that would be appealing to male audiences. However, what we end up with is sort of creepy, as characters are mostly strange fetish stereotypes (the dominatrix school teacher, for instance) that seem to cater to a select group of people. Because there is no real storyline, there is little to base the character off of, aside from their exaggerated ring entrances, which seem to further subjugate the pixelated females featured within. At 30 seconds, the silly entrances are fairly long, and some run even longer. There's a person who sings with a band (terribly, I might add), one that has roses shot out of a cannon as she dances towards the stage as a big red mascot … thing stands next to her. We never really learn much about these fighters, but for those who remember the atrocious acting of the first title, that is not really that bad at all.
What is bad is that there is really nothing stimulating about these supposedly "attractive" characters. I personally have never understood some men's attractions to female characters in games, and that's coming from a man. Graphically, the female fighters look all right but have strange faults that tend to stand out. For instance, the breasts in their entirety do not necessarily seem animated, but the front areas do. Now, this would not be so weird if the characters' bosoms were not so enormous, making the strange animation stand out even more. Also, any loose clothing or hair moves with the wind, yet it does not seem like there is a lot to the animation, so no matter what is going on, they tend to move in the same manner. Aside from some minor clipping issues, the game does look fairly good, but if you are playing on a relatively small television, it becomes difficult to see what is going on in four-person matches, as the camera zooms fairly far out. As you progress through the game, your character will become a fighter based on the kind of moves you like to perform, causing her muscle tone to change accordingly.
Several gameplay modes exist, featuring: tag team matches, humiliation matches, handicap, three- and four-way battle royals, street fights, and the voyeurs' favorite, Queen's match. Most of these should be familiar to any wrestling game veteran, with the humiliation matches and Queen's match standing out. The standout for several reasons is the Queen's match, quite possibly one of the oddest matches of any wrestling game. Before the match, a punishment is selected, and whoever loses much perform it. The punishments range from dancing a samba to posing like a kitten, to being tickled with a big hand on a stick by the winning character. You can then change the camera angles as the action is performed, moving around and zooming in or out on the wrestler's body. However, the character's eyes are vacant and almost cartoonish, her flesh a weird color, and the previously mentioned breast glitch stands out even more. Similarly, whenever going into a submission move, you have access to camera controls, allowing you to move around and zoom in and out, as your character tortures another.
One of RRXX's strong points is actually the wrestling itself. Although this is not a difficult game (I won a match by pressing only the Y button over and over again), there is some depth to the reversal system used. Any punch or throw can be reversed, leading to some surprisingly tense matches as you try to counter every counter. However, the key component of a counter system is having it actually work, and unfortunately, it seems to be slightly off. Every move lags, and that extra second might mean the difference between getting a move off and losing a match. Collision detection is also a problem, with some moves never hitting correctly, as the opponent dodges it when she should be face-down on the mat. As you play, you raise your special move meter and can eventually perform a Killer Move (basically just a charged-up regular move) or the Lethal move (imagine the Smackdown move for each individual in the Smackdown series).
Music is weak, as each song sounds like it's from the 1980s, but sung by female J-pop groups. It's weirdly melodramatic at times, but mostly just oddly irritating, especially when some of the songs were featured in the previous version, such as "Yankee Rose". Sound effects are equally bad, with the girls saying short quips as the game goes on, which could – and should – have easily been left out. For anyone who played the first Rumble Roses, it's good that they removed the voices in this version, as the only thing more painful than the submission moves was hearing the terrible actresses pummel the script.
There's an online option as well, but the problem with collision and slow characters remains, leaving it sort of bland. The matches mostly make the transition over from single-player and play fairly well, when things are working. Although the customization options do make it somewhat entertaining to see what others are doing, it still grows boring quickly. A few other features round out the title, including the popular digital camera you can purchase to hold photo shoots for your characters. They pose, allowing you to be the digital Hugh Hefner and take shots that can then be uploaded online. There is a ranking of the best shots taken, with the chance to download them to ogle to your heart's desire.
Rumble Roses XX is a strange game. At times, I actually found myself enjoying the wrestling aspect, even with its faults. Just as quickly though, I was forced to watch a rendered female dance seductively at the camera. Trying to straddle the line between simulation wrestling game and fetish video, Rumble Roses XX invariably fails. Like most beautiful people, RRXX has a great package on the outside and glaring faults within. Although most mainstream gamers will find too much wrong to really enjoy this game, RRXX does offer the fetish community quite a bit to like. Either way, its above-average wrestling engine merits a quick rent for any 20-something male Xbox 360 owner who is lonely on a Saturday night. Otherwise, it might be best to let the roses rumble on their own.
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