Sunday, November 28, 2004

Review: Rumble Roses (PS2)
Posted by Shocker :: 7:05 PM

We're all adults here, right? I mean, when DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball came out, we all recognized it for the excellent volleyball simulation that it tried to be, right? And we all recognize the serious important contributions to the videogaming society that bobbing and weaving a rogue sperm cell through a minefield, a la Leisure Suit Larry, don't we? Hell, we can even enjoy the simple pleasures of a quiz-show turned mature adventure in The Guy Game, right?

Okay, those games sucked (Yes, DOA XBV sucked. It was an awful volleyball simulation. Yes it was), and they sucked because the primary emphasis was on T&A and not on the gameplay that passed for an excuse to see more tits. And while I like tits and I like video games, I really hate it when the former becomes an excuse not to make a decent game.

Honestly, that was my initial impression with Rumble Roses, an all-female wrestling game for the Playstation 2, published by Konami. In Rumble Roses, sexual innuendo is all over the place... Skimpy costumes, provocative moves, insultingly sexualized wrestling. Yet beyond all of that, if you can get into it, lies a pretty interesting and fun arcade-wrestling game.

As you guys know by now, we take a pretty close look at wrestling games, having originated from In This Very, and so I waited with anticipation for Rumble Roses. My initial impressions were mostly negative. Match types were the most basic possible: one-on-one and mud matches. No tag team matches, no special matches (aside from one to be discussed) and no customization on the type of win (submission, pinfall, KO, etc). A staple of most modern wrestling games, the Create-A-Wrestler mode was also missing. Moreover, the focus here did not seem to be on the wrestling. Rather, the mud match style and a focus on "humiliation" moves (which usually involve putting your opponent in compromising positions) looked like they would overshadow any sense of core gameplay here.

The story, such as it is, unfolds as you play each character. Rumble Roses sports (off the top of my head) 10 initial characters to play with, with half the roster unlockable. The characters range from the justifiable (Wrestler Reiko and judo fighter Makoto) to the cheesy (Ninja Bloody Shadow) to the why-are-you-here (Schoolgirl Candy Cane, her teacher Miss Spencer, pop star Aisha). While some characters have pretty self-contained storylines (like Candy Cane), others' storylines wrap around the entire conspiracy and mystery surrounding the Rumble Roses tournament. The main villains here, a nurse/mad scientist Anesthesia and main-bad-girl Evil Rose, actually develop pretty well. You'll come to apprciate why Rose is the way she is, and, through her incessant meddling and smug attitude, you'll come to hate Anesthesia.

Graphically, the game looks like a Dreamcast holdover. A lot of anti-aliasing "issues", but some pretty sharp textures. Everything looks as good as it should look, but not necessarily superlative. Many people have drawn (valid) comparisons between a lot of these characters and Dead or Alive vixens. Music is j-pop, dialogue is predictably cheesy.

The gameplay here is very good, once you get into it. It took me a while to adjust from the more-sim-like Smackdown vs. Raw to a game like this. Moves are predictably over-the-top, though the game never gets into the realm of the impossible. You'll see stuff like Shining Wizards or Mr. Neibla's autosubmission here. Rumble Roses utilizes the fact that it's not tied to any specific real-life characters to open up what the girls are allowed to do. That said, it does take a lot from SD vs. Raw in its grapple scheme: left or right + grapple results in a standing grapple, up or down + grapple results in your character throwing her opponent to the ground to focus either on the opponent's head or legs, respectively. From there, each character has a pretty decent variety of moves. Submissions play a pretty big part here, too, but it is very straight forward. Once in a submission, the game tells you exactly how many button presses you need to get out of the move. As you do moves, you also do damage to specific parts of the body, helping your submission moves.

Collision detection, aside from a few moves, is excellent. Strikes that can have complicated results on successful hits only work if you hit directly at the opponent, although they can do a slight amount of damage should you hit (or miss) at an angle.

The major gameplay difference here is a humiliation factor. Simply put, you can gain an advantage over your opponent by exposing her to the audience. Why any of these characters would be embarassed to be put in, say, a small package is beyond me given what they wear to the ring, but once your opponent is in a humiliated state, and if you have a super move, you can pull of a humiliation move, which for each character is a very powerful submission maneuver. Humiliation is the only stipulation that you can set for a match. Joining the Humiliation move are killer and lethal moves, which act like regular special moves. Each wrestler has a killer move that can be pulled off in any position. But if you are in the proper place, it will turn into a lethal move (which are like extra-special moves).

Once you win with a character in story mode, you can play her alternate version in the story mode. Each character has an alternate mode; if the character is a heel, her alt will be a face and vice versa. In many cases, the alts are extremely different takes on the characters... Sullen Candy Cane turns cheerleader Becky, f'rinstance.

Alternate characters can be unlocked in the Exhibition Mode, as well. This is also very well-carried out. Each character is ranked either 50% face or 50% heel intially. Through what they call the Vows system, basically a lot like the challenges in SD vs. Raw, vowing to do good things before the match, like not using weapons or not attacking your opponent on the ground, increases your face percentage. Vowing to do bad things, like making sure you attack your opponent with a weapon, or not allowing them to damage you for the entire match, increases the heel percentage. Once you get 100% face or 100% heel, you can challenge for the title in the Title Mode. Once you win a title, you can defend it. Winning the title opens the character in the Gallery, defending it opens her beach gallery. Finally, changing the alignment of a particular girl opens her alternate version for the exhibition mode.

Overall, Rumble Roses is a very fun arcade game, with portions that can turn off any number of gamers. I get how someone would be unable to get past the humiliation aspect... It's annoying and borderline insulting, but luckily it does not become the major aspect of gameplay. Rumble Roses won't appeal to everyone, but if you're able to get into it, it's a solid example of an average game that is still very fun.

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