Review: Rumble Roses XX (XB360)


Rumble Roses XX
Genre: Wrestling
Developer: Yukes
Publisher: Konami
Release Date: 3/28/06

So.

I liked the original Rumble Roses. Yes, really.

Sure, it was heavily limited. Absolutely, it had less depth than a kiddie pool. And yeah, it was largely about T&A. But beyond the attempted sex appeal, beyond the stupid mud matches, beyond all of that, there was a certain cheesy charm to the game that clicked with me. I’m not entirely sure why, but I have the impression it probably has to do with watching GLOW as a kid. Well, that and the fact that watching a female wrestler, regardless of her genetic impossibility, clothesline another female wrestler out of her boots is amusing as hell.

And hey, if Dixie Clements was a real WWE Diva, she’d probably be the most over person on the roster. Just saying.

So, yeah, I was actually pretty interested in Rumble Roses XX. I mean, okay, it’s of the same caliber of, say, Dead Or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball… but that’s not entirely a bad thing. Sure, it’s a cheesecake game, but it’s a distinctly Japanese cheesecake game, so it’s sure to be ridiculous, over-the-top, and so chock-full of cheesy goodness that I should be able to laugh my ass off whilst playing it. The presentation alone should be worth the price of admission, and since I’m not one of those “scantily clad polygon women are scary and gross” dipshits employed by the big companies, I should be able to find amusement in such a product. And hey, it’s the first wrestling title for the 360, so that alone is enough of a sales pitch for me.

Nope, no bad puns this time around. Sorry. Well… okay, fine, here you go then: let’s dive into the ring and see if we’ve got a Queen of the Ring or a jobber on our hands. There, happy now?


1. GAME MODES


As the storyline in the previous RR title was… shall we say… really honkin’ bad, Story Mode has been excised from RRXX. Instead, we’re given one universal front end from which to choose our gameplay options. Well, we have Career Mode, which allows you to train your wrestler of choice from the bottom of the ladder to Rumble Rose Champion, in various single and tag-team matches. We have our exhibition mode, which allows us to just jump in and play in one to four player matches. And of course, we have online mode, which allows us to jump online and battle it out with other people on the net.

That’s about it.

You can build your own custom character (more on that in Gameplay) and snap pictures of the Roses too, if such amuses you. And there’s a shop where you can purchase various outfits for the Roses, if you so desire. As far as match types go, you have a choice of normal singles and tag matchups, as well as 3 and 4 way dance and handicap matches. There’s also the “Queens Match”, which allows you to make an opponent do something stupid after you win, and “PHM”, or Pure Humiliation Match, which requires you to humiliate your opponent to win.

All told, there an acceptable amount to do here, but it’s nothing special. There’s more variety than there was in the original RR, but there’s far, far less to do here than in, say, Smackdown vs. Raw 2K6. There are plenty of match types that have occurred in the history of wrestling that aren’t copyrighted that could have been implemented here, so the absolute lack of match types is a little off-putting. Still, if you’re jonesing for some 360 wrestling action, there’s enough here to keep you busy, and there are more match options than there were in the first RR, so that’s something of an improvement, if nothing else.

Game Modes Rating: 5/10


2. GRAPHICS


The graphics in RRXX are the easiest thing to appreciate: they’re among the best on the console. Character models, while not quite realistic, are incredibly well-detailed, and Konami went to great pains to make them about as realistic as you can make Double-D polygon sporting animated cheesecake. Veins, beauty marks, and other “realistic” touches can be found on each character, if one actually takes the time to look. Character animations are also top notch, by and large, and each character, both when performing moves and in general, animates very well throughout. The various wrestling venues are also well designed, especially the Resort (with realistic water effects) and Rooftop (with a well-implemented wind effect) venues. Fans, when in attendance, aren’t fantastic, but look far better than in other wrestling titles, and are a serious bump up from the Smackdown franchise, for example.

Not all is sunshine and rainbows, of course. Clipping, while reduced from previous efforts, is still pretty common in the game, and you can expect to see it pop up here and there. There are occasional slowdown hiccups (though they’re pretty rare) when performing Double-X moves, which bears noting. And occasionally, characters look less like human beings and more like silicone dolls… it’s hard to explain, but if you’ve seen still shots, you probably understand what I mean. Despite all of this, though, RRXX is one of the best looking titles for the system so far, and while not perfect, still looks good enough that the flaws shouldn’t ruin your enjoyment one bit.

Graphics Rating: 8/10


3. SOUND

Well, it’s good to see that Konami’s getting so much mileage out of their Bemani song list. Seriously, something like half of the songs in the game have been in Bemani titles at some point in their life (though some are more notable than others), which is good use of your resources, if nothing else. The music is largely Japanese oriented, though, so if you’re not a fan, you won’t care much (though if you’re interested in RRXX, chances are you might be a fan by default). Of course, you can simply use the custom soundtrack feature and be done with it… but you can ALSO change all of the intro tracks to songs from your hard drive! So if you’re tired of someone’s intro music, make a playlist, put one song in it, name the playlist something, and then tell the game to look to this playlist for the character in question’s theme song. A little bit of a pain in the butt, yeah, but it’s still a solid innovation that I’m quite pleased with.

Regarding the voice acting… well, the good news is, with no story mode, there’s less voice acting. The BAD news is, it’s still not that good. Some voice actors (Dixie Clements, Reiko Hinomoto) sound perfectly fine, while others (Aigle, Candy Cane) sound not so good… and some (Benikage/Bloody Shadow, Anesthesia) make you wonder why they didn’t just re-use the original voice actors. Overall, the voices earn a nice, solid “eh” from me… none of them are “screwdriver in the ears” bad, but most of them are below average, and ultimately not too interesting.

And to round it all out, the sound effects are pretty reasonable overall. Some of the punches sound over-done (for effect, mind you, but still), but mostly, the sounds are spot on. Crowd noise is also solid and sounds pretty good, and the crowd reacts appropriately to heel actions and Lethal moves, booing and popping when needed. Overall the effects are solid and well done, though they aren’t really anything beyond the standard.

Sound Rating: 7/10


4. CONTROL/GAMEPLAY


Y’ever play Smackdown? Same thing. Well, more or less.

For those that have somehow managed to miss the Smackdown franchise in its entirety, here you go. Much like Yukes’ other, more successful franchise, everything is pretty simple here. Strike and grapple are mapped to the face buttons, and pressing directions in tandem with the buttons performs different actions. The left stick and the D-Pad control your movement, and the right stick does your taunts. Also mapped to the face buttons are your run command and your all-purpose “action” button, IE climb into the ring, climb the turnbuckle, grab a weapon, the usual. The right bumper is your “block” command, and pressing it simultaneously with either the strike or grapple button attempts a counter of the aforementioned type of attack. The left bumper does your Killer/Lethal moves (finishers, basically) when you have a full special bar for them; Killer moves can be done from anywhere, whereas Lethal moves have specific positions they can be done from. As expected, however, Lethals are better moves overall. The right trigger performs your Humiliation move, which requires a full special bar, and ALSO requires that your opponent’s Humiliation gauge be full (more on that in a bit). And finally, the left trigger allows you to make the tag in Tag-Team matches. So, basically, the controls are all simple one-button affairs in most cases, and unless you’re trying to play Smackdown (where the buttons are mapped to different locations), you should have no problems jumping right into RRXX and playing.

There are mild differences between Yukes’ more popular grappler and RRXX, however, which bear noting. First, and perhaps most notable, is the “Humiliation Gauge”. Basically, as certain moves are applied to your characters, they become embarrassed over such treatment. When the bar fills, the character becomes humiliated, and is made susceptible to “Humiliation Finishers”. These are similar to Killer and Lethal moves, only 1.) they’re pretty much always submission moves, 2.) they’re designed to be INCREDIBLY embarrassing. Like, pretzel hold panty shot mania. Yikes. Also, tag-team matches also feature a “Rescue” action, which is basically for breaking up pinfalls or submissions; if your partner likes you, and you press the button at the right time, a little anime-inspired scene pops up, followed by your partner making the save. In fact, tag-team matches are the most abnormally variant matches here; tossing your opponent to the opponent’s corner knocks their partner off the turnbuckle, while tossing them to your corner makes your partner grab them and hold them up for a beating. These are minor changes, but they tend to change the flow of the match. Oh, and let us not forget the “Double X” moves: basically, so long as both partners have a finisher stored, you perform a double-team finisher. Most are pretty generalized, but some are specific to certain tag teams, and all of them look pretty damn painful.


And, of course, there are the two variant matchups here: “Queens Match” and “Street Fight”. The Queens Match basically sees you and an opponent square off as normal, but the loser must perform some sort of embarrassing action, ranging from Limbo dancing to Para-para dancing to making silly poses. It’s all rather silly, but it’s part of the Japanese charm, so you’ll either love or hate it. Street Fights, on the other hand, are basically your standard wrestling matches, only with more Tekken-esque combat. Walls can be used for a combat advantage, but submissions are pretty much useless, and strikes quickly become your best friend. Some of the move animations are modified for this mode (especially for top-rope finishers), and a lot of moves are rendered less useful because of the match design, but overall it’s a solid (if unspectacular) addition to the game.

The game front end has also received a make-over; instead of having a main menu where you choose whatever, you’re now given a map with which to make your choices. When you first see the map, it looks like it’s pretty in-depth, but basically it’s little more than your normal game front end. You can choose to wrestle in exhibition matches, visit the shop (to buy outfits and such), check out the tutorial (to learn the basics), or wrestle career matches. The career mode basically amounts to picking a wrestler and taking on all comers until you get a title shot. Once you win the title, you switch wrestlers and do it over again. Wrestling various matches improves the performance of your wrestlers, depending on how you tend to play (people who use strikes a lot will see their wrestlers develop strikes skills, etc), and allows you to change the muscle tone of the wrestlers as well. You can also make a custom character and play around in career mode if you like, but as far as I can tell, custom wrestlers aren’t eligible for title shots. You can also choose from the various wrestlers (and their variant versions) if you wish. As you win matches, characters also become more popular, which allows them to use their “Superstar” variants, which tend to be mildly different versions of the same characters. All told, there are 4 different variants of the ten main characters, as well as four hidden characters (Lady X in her two forms, a bear and a clown, yes, really), which should provide you SOME variety, at least.

There’s also an option to play online, if you’re interested, and for the most part it’s pretty solid. Matches run smooth pretty consistently (I never saw any lag, though that may be due to the lack of people playing), and you can bring in any characters you want to bust out to play with, if such is your bag. This too may keep your interest, though I’ve found that tag team matches don’t work as well as they should (players can enter and leave the ring at any time, which makes tagging in and out kind of a pain when your partner’s nowhere to be found). Otherwise, it’s a solid addition to the series, and also tends to be quite fun.

Unfortunately, for all of the strong points listed above, there is one MAJOR problem that cripples RRXX’s gameplay: lack of real variety. There are (if we count variants) about eight different match types, that take place across five different arenas. That’s it. Now, the lack of arenas doesn’t really annoy me so much as the lack of match variety does. I mean, we’re talking about a game made by the guys that made Smackdown. You know, the wrestling game with something like twenty or thirty different match types? It hardly seems like we’re talking about the same company, but we most certainly are, and that’s kind of hard to swallow. I mean, there aren’t any elimination variants to the 3 and 4 way dance matches? There’s no Tornado Tag match? Ladder matches (other games have done them before)? Steel Cage matches? SOMETHING? And while having so many characters in a wrestling game is great, you only REALLY have twelve or thirteen TRULY DIFFERENT characters, with the rest being variants of the various characters. That’s amusing, yeah, but there’s only so many times I can play as the same character over and over again. And, of course, character creation is HIGHLY limited. You’re only offered maybe twenty outfit choices for your custom character, and all of these same outfit options are available to the normal characters as well, which limits things further. Okay, great, there are something like forty or fifty swimsuits, but come on, I WANT CLOTHES, DAMMIT. You also can’t change your character’s face, AT ALL. Makeup, yes… hair, yes… actual face? Nope. So to say it’s highly limited is actually something of an understatement.


Also, some of the game design elements leave a lot to be desired. Earning title matches, for instance, require you to fight every other wrestler once, and depending on how many times you’ve WON the belt, you might end up wrestling qualifying matches something like forty or fifty times before you get a title shot. Certain wrestler alternate identities aren’t even unlocked by winning title matches, instead requiring draconian methods to unlock them that serve no purpose. It seems that, instead of giving the player a lot to DO to influence them to return, Konami and Yukes decided to offer up a lot to unlock, but made it almost impossible to unlock these things without playing the game for hundreds of hours. That might appeal to some folks, but hey, I have other games to play, y’know?

In the end, RRXX is a solid, playable game that offers some good gameplay and a fair amount of amusement. Unfortunately, it does little to keep the interest going and offers little variety in the package, so unless you really like the style and presentation, you probably won’t really want to unlock everything the game has to offer. And without the massive amount of (not really all that variable) unlockables, ultimately, RRXX is a shallow, if pretty, game experience. It’s fun, and I certainly enjoy it, but there’s no real reason to keep playing it; I saw pretty much everything the game had to offer after an hour, and everything from that point on was icing on the rather meager cake.

Control/Gameplay Rating: 5/10


5. REPLAYABILITY

Depends. If you like the game, there’s a ton of hidden costumes, poses, Face/Heel personalities, etc. to unlock, which would probably take close to a hundred hours to unlock for each character. On the other hand, none of the costumes are really all that different (save the swimsuits, if that’s your bag), and the poses and such aren’t really all that important to the game experience. And as unlocking will require hundreds of hours of playing against the same opponents in the same types of matches, you might find yourself becoming bored rather quickly. Ultimately, if you like wrestling games (or RR at least), you’ll probably have plenty of reason to come back to this for a while (hey, there’s Live online play, at least that’s something); otherwise, this probably won’t spend much time in your system.

Replayability Rating: 6/10


6. BALANCE

It’s easier to play than Smackdown, and the controls are easier to just jump into. There are three different difficulty settings, so even the most inexperienced noob can jump in and kick ass with no problems. There’s a tutorial to teach you the basics, the loading screens have all sorts of tips, and the screen gives you various prompts to remind you how to do things. In short, the balance is strong here. Certain characters seem a touch unbalanced if used cheaply (Miss Spencer, for instance), but for the most part the game balance is well-rounded, and you probably won’t find yourself outright writing off certain characters for their lack of skill (especially since you can upgrade them in Career mode).

Balance Rating: 8/10


7. ORIGINALITY

The first RR was chock full of originality; while basically a Smackdown clone with elements of GLOW built in, the characters and presentation were chock-full of enough odd elements to make the game unique. Well, as a sequel, a lot of those elements are in place here too, only they’re not as original this time around. The gameplay isn’t anything you haven’t seen in about a hundred other wrestling titles, and the Street Fight and Queens Match modes, while different, aren’t really that fantastically exciting. Most of the originality comes from the oddity in the presentation; characters are largely stereotypes in action, but the stereotypes tend to be well executed and appropriately cheesy. This time around, the game goes even further towards trying to be ridiculous; finishers that involve being eaten by a frog or being forced to read a book while in a hammerlock aren’t uncommon, for example. Is it fresh and different? Nah. But it manages to be unique unto itself, which isn’t easy to do. So while it’s unique on the whole, various elements are novel enough that I can safely say you’ve probably not seen anything QUITE like it, unless you’ve played the first game. Even then, there’s enough new and different here that old-time fans should be pleasantly surprised.

Originality Rating: 6/10


8. ADDICTIVENESS

Unlocking everything will keep you into the game for a while, and the wrestling action is solid enough on its own to keep the game in your system for a few days. Unfortunately, the “Career” mode isn’t terribly in-depth, what little storyline that is here is recycled from the previous title (and not really explained at all), and most of the character variations aren’t drastically different from the original incarnations. Ultimately, if you have high expectations for this, you’ll come away disappointed. The only things that will keep you interested are the oddball humor aspects and the online play, and even those only have finite addictiveness. Still, it’s a pretty fun game on its own, and if you’re into wrestling titles, you’ll probably find reasons to come back and play RRXX regardless, and hey, there’s an Easy mode here, thus putting RRXX ahead of the only other fighting game on the console.

Addictiveness Rating: 6/10


9. APPEAL FACTOR

Do you not mind being called a pervert? Do you enjoy fruity Japanese games? Do polygon girls in spandex appeal to you? Are you a fan of the good old fanservice panty shot? THEN DO WE HAVE A GAME FOR YOU!

Seriously, the appeal of RRXX is, sadly, limited by the subject matter. If the game were far and away a stellar wrestling title on its own, this would be less of a problem, but sadly, this is not the case. RRXX is very easy to play, yes, and there are plenty of “characters” to choose from, and if you’re looking for wrestling, you’re in the right place. But if you can’t appreciate the game’s unique sense of humor, you’re going to have difficulty getting into it at all, and that’s really the deal-breaker here. If you can look past the fanservice and the panty shots and the tickling and such, you’ll probably laugh your ass off at how absurd the whole concept is. And hey, if you like the above-mentioned things, you’ll like RRXX perfectly fine. But if underdressed D-cup polygon women make you nauseous and you think they’re creepy, then hey, don’t bother climbing down off your high, high horse to try this out. You’re better off with your Tolstoy and your poetry readings than anything this could do for you.

Appeal Rating: 5/10


10. MISCELLANEOUS


So, what it all comes down to is this: whether or not you’re going to like RRXX depends solely on how much of its style appeals to you. The game is less about wrestling and storyline and more about the silly characters and the goofy costumes and the laughable attempts at sex appeal throughout the game. If you’re looking for Smackdown, you’re not going to find it here; this is about as bare-bones as a wrestling title gets. What you ARE getting, basically, is goofy Japanese style out the ass, and if that’s something you’re into, then you’ve come to the right place.

Ultimately, though, there’s just not enough here to sustain the title beyond wrestling and T&A. I mean, yeah, okay, they TRIED to make a “Create-A-Character” mode, but it’s one-dimensional and bland. Yeah, okay, there are MORE match types, but there’s not enough to them; why are there four-way matches, but not four-way ELIMINATION matches, and why is there no “Tornado Tag Team” option? And why couldn’t there be more variety to the matches in general? I’m not saying they should’ve crammed in piranha tank death matches or barbed-wire C4 matches, but what about steel cage match-ups or evening gown matches? There are hundreds of gimmick matches in wrestling, most of which aren’t copyrighted, and cramming a couple of those into the game would have done wonders.

Instead we get photo shoots. Hey, thanks for that, but COME ON. Wrestling? Please?

In the end, I enjoy RRXX. I really do. But not as much as the first RR. RRXX feels more shallow and empty, takes entirely too much effort to do anything with, and isn’t as new and novel as the first game. I still enjoy it, and I’ll keep on playing it, but in the end, it’s still not quite what I was hoping for.

Miscellaneous Rating: 6/10

The Scores:
Game Modes: 5/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Control/Gameplay: 5/10
Replayability: 6/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 6/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Appeal: 5/10
Miscellaneous: 6/10

Overall Score: 6.2/10
Final Score: 6.0 (FAIR).

Short Attention Span Summary
It’s the best wrestling title on the 360, but that’s not saying much. RRXX will scratch your wrestling itch until SVR 2K7 hits stores, but it’s a shallow experience that ultimately lives and dies by its style. If you love the style, you’ll love the game; if you don’t, you won’t get much out of it. Definitely worth a rental if you’re curious, but only real wrestling or Japanese sillyness fans need buy it outright.