Review: Rumble Roses (PS2)

Rumble Roses
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)
Platform: PS2
Publisher: Konami
Developer: KCET and Yukeâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s
Release Date: 11/09/04

Wrestling. It is the modern version of Greek tragedies. Good and Evil face off with uncaring Gods doing whatever thou wilt ala Aleister Crowâ┚¬Â¦ no wait, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s mainly sweaty bodies rubbing against each other, tangled in some twisted version of the horizontal mambo. Usually those bodies are male and for some reason the main viewers of this spectacle are male. Konami seeks to bring more curves and estrogen to the squared circle, lots more.



STORY/MODES:

An evil nurse named Anesthesia is using the Rumble Roses wrestling tournament to find great physical specimens to use as additional parts for her cyborg named Lady X, who was created using the DNA of the worldâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s greatest woman wrestler: Kamikaze Rose. The participants in the tournament each have their own quests but can they prevent themselves from being turned into mindless killing machines by Anesthesiaâ┚¬Â¦ and is Anesthesia really whom she claims to be?

That strange plot is the basis of the story mode in Rumble Roses. As far as different game play modes there is your exhibition mode that has a few different matches. One is a straight up wrestling match with the Vow system (you accomplish different tasks during a match and depending on whether that task is a face or heel option you become either good or evil), a championship match (used to unlock galleries of qualifying characters [characters have to be 100% heel or face]), mad mud match (yes, mud wrestling), and your typical story mode.

As far as modes go the nifty face/heel movement means you can only use one version or the other of any given character, making you go through a somewhat boring process of sending a character back to being a face or a heel to use that persona in exhibition.

The game relies on a face/heel designation and while it is using the way a character wrestlers, Anesthesia is hardly a face. There is dialogue actually missing from parts of the story, that show up thanks to subtitling, and the story, while humorous to some, is bad B movie fodder. It is so terrible at some points, and certain characters are so bland (Makoto and Reiko especially) that you can only soldier through as if you are in the Charge of the Light Brigade.

The story does get a bit of praise for being strange, plus it makes me want to create a wrestling cyborg using DNA from â┚¬Å”Das Wunderkindâ┚¬Â Alex Wright. There are also some weird alternate storylines for the opposing persona of different characters but the story given to these is minimal, at best. Most of those alternate stories are quite funny and most deal with the tough road of being a rule breaker. It is like Yentl, only with more cleavage and more wrestling.

Story/Modes: 4.5



GRAPHICS:

As expected for a game that intends to titillate the visuals are tended to quite well. The characters bounce when they move but not quite up with the infamous bounce mode of the first Dead or Alive (or subsequent DoAs). The character models are well animated (some would say overly animated in some respects) but their hair really never moves and there are occasions when body parts pass through one another.

The ring entrances are very well done, capturing the pomp and circumstance of the contemporary wrestling world (at least the giant US conglomo type wrestling world). Each wrestler has a unique theme song for each of their personas (face or heel) and their entrances and songs change accordingly. The lights, video wall movies, dancers or extras, and props all add to the wrestlersâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ entrances, giving more of a television wrestling federation feel.

Another problem is the visuals of the so-called mud in the mud wrestling competition. To be blunt the mud looks more like gravy. While the beach locale and sand look good the mud, which is the key component to this mode, well second fiddle really to the swimsuits, is just some strange rippling substance. Even the shadows on the so-called mud look alien.

The lack of variety in the arenas, there are only four locations to fight, can be a tad visually boring. The characters move fluidly though and what visuals do make up the backgrounds are very nicely done (the added touch of advertising other Konami releases was actually quite welcome).

Graphics: 7.5



SOUND:

Rumble Roses has a surprising amount of dialogue for each of the 10 main combatants. There is an unlockable character but that character does not speak so she obviously has no dialogue. However the rest have an abundance of things to say, whether it be in between matches or an Easter egg locker room interview. The voice acting is uneven, the characters Makoto and Evil Rose being prime suspects for crap voice acting of the year while Bloody Shadow and Aisha are good examples of good voice work. Most of the characters have voices that fit with the characters and are not too distracting, a big plus when having to listen to them speak in the ring over and over again. Sometimes there are bits of dialogue that arenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t completed, Aishaâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s story is a big example of this, and it is a curiosity because of just how much audio was recorded that some slipped through the cracks.

The in ring action sounds feature the bone crunching, mat slamming, and opponent taunting we have come to expect from wrestling games. Though a tad generic and a bit flat, the action sounds do their job but there are only so many times you can hear a body hitting canvas or a ligament stretching without it beginning to grate on the nerves. As with most fighting/wrestling games there is music that plays while you are grappling, but this is rather annoying and your best bet is to turn the sound off when you are in a match and turn it back on afterwards.

The real audio champion in this game comes from the soundtrack. Licensed tunes from Des-ROW and the Killer Barbies plus an adequate cover of Yankee Rose are some of the highlights of the entrance music smorgasbord that awaits the player when they begin their tour of duty with Rumble Roses. Each theme song is well chosen and fits with the heel or face persona of the character the music accompanies. The soundtrack to the game is so well done and appealing that buying the soundtrack can enter into a gamerâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s mind.

Sound: 7



CONTROL & GAMEPLAY:

Controlling your wrestler in Rumble Roses is rather simple. You have a grapple button, an attack button (for fists and kicks), a run button, a pin/release hold button, a taunt button (the right analogue stick), move characters with either the digital pad or left analogue stick, and R1 used with either the attack button (square) or grapple button (triangle) can counter a maneuver if timed right.

Sometimes when trying to run your character stutter steps. When trying to grapple someone on the ground the character will keep turning their foe over and over again and then you get your move countered. This is downright annoying but on the flip side you donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t cry when you manage to do this to an AI controlled grappler.

The controls are pretty standard far. You can climb up to the top rope using the circle button and then launch an attack using the triangle button. Throwing someone into the ropes involves using the triangle button then x button. It is very intuitive, especially for fans of wrestling games. There could be more move variety and a list of individual moves for each wrestler provided in the manual, but at least the controls are up to Yukeâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s reputation.

Control & Gameplay: 5/10



BALANCE:

Rumble Roses is a schizophrenic game. Sometimes it seems to be a difficult game and then suddenly Rumble Roses changes into a cakewalk. On the default difficulty setting often times matches will end up turning into who can grab the other one on the ground the most. The AI controlled character will get placed into submission maneuvers over and over again, allowing the player controlled character to cruise to an easy victory. Conversely there are times when the AI character will counter most anything the player throws at it and demolish the player post haste.

Eventually the game breaks down into relying on one or two moves to beat every opponent you see. A few counters and one or two different attacks to stave off boredom but the way the game is balanced between submissions and normal strike attacks it makes no sense to waste your time doing anything but submission holds. The game really needs more tweaking to liven up the different means of achieving victory. At least there is button mashing galore to get the blood pumping a bit.

Balance: 3.5/10



REPLAY ABILITY:

Having 10 characters to guide through story mode twice (one for initial face or heel personality and once for the opposite), an exhibition mode that has a system to make a character a face or a heel, and a championship match mode gives RR some legs to stand on when it comes to playing for longer than an hour. Once you unlock all the costumes (through completing both stories of a character) and all the character galleries (done through getting a character to 100% face or heel then having a championship match in the exhibition mode) hardly anything is left aside from 2 player battle mayhem. Still Rumble Roses is not as barebones as it can appear to be.

Replay Ability: 4/10



APPEAL:

If you thought the Dead or Alive series was a niche audience game then Rumble Roses is a shut in audience sort of game. First off it is a wrestling game, which automatically reduces the amount of people who will play it by a large number, and secondly it is a fan service game, which cuts out another large segment of people who wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t buy it because theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re too self conscious. There are enough people who will play Rumble Roses but owning this game means you will probably get lumped in with those 13 year olds who will flood the GameFAQs message boards asking about having â┚¬Å”teh hoat sexs in fableâ┚¬Â.

Appeal: 3/10



ORIGINALITY:

Aside from Super Wrestle Angels, All Japan Women, Beauty Girl Wrestling, and a few other womenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s wrestling games that escape my memory at the moment, Rumble Roses is the only womenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s wrestling game around. Addendum: none of the other games were released in the United States so, in fact, Rumble Roses is quite a different creature entirely for these shores.

Premise excluded, there is hardly anything that would constitute a different take on wrestling, aside from a Humiliation finisher. The championship exhibition mode is nice, especially with the vow system that has a character go from face to heel and that can qualify as something new but it is hard to innovate in these modern times and Rumble Roses just threw in a few different twists but anyone coming to this game looking for the next great leap in combat games is probably insane.

Originality: 4/10



ADDICTIVENESS:

Contrary to what some may believe: even unintentional humor can keep a person glued to their seat. There are some genuinely funny moments in Rumble Roses and a player can find some of the characterâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s personalities growing on them despite misgivings and prejudices. The game wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t suck you in like a Leisure Suit Larry game but it may get you to play for a bit longer to find out a bit more about the crazy Rumble Roses tournament and to possibly hear more funny bits of script. A prime example is the entire Aigle obsession with her foesâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ teats, which is a laugh riot.

Unfortunately, after several matches you will find the giant Achilles heel of Rumble Roses: tedium. Going through 8 matches that are tantamount to either destroying your opponent or getting the tar beaten out of you really makes Rumble Roses a chore despite the humor. Plus the bad voice acting, when it is at the height of its terribleness, really hurts and makes a person want to skip several scenes to make the hurting stop.

The fact that so many wrestlers share the same moves and after the first few fights everything falls into a discernable pattern can really turn a player away. While not as much of a chore to play as some other games (Otogi 2), RR becomes a flaming car wreck of boring, going from enjoyable experience to forced labor â┚¬Å”funâ┚¬Â.

Addictiveness: 3/10



MISCELLANEOUS:

The game manual is written firmly tongue in cheek and shows the humorous side of the game. Thankfully Rumble Roses does not take itself seriously, it makes the game go down smoother. The problem here is that there is nothing more offered by RR. Its manual is comical, but when your manual sticks out as a strong suit that tells a person that maybe your game should have had a bit more substance to it.

Miscellaneous: 4/10



Story/Modes: 4.5/10
Graphics: 7.5/10
Sound: 7/10
Controls: 5/10
Balance: 3.5/10
Replay Ability: 4/10
Appeal: 3/10
Originality: 4/10
Addictiveness: 3/10
Miscellaneous: 4/10