Gamestyle Archive Intro: there was a time in the very earliest versions of the website where Dean would like to put up a picture of a woman to enhance the visual appeal of the page. Why I’m mentioning this I don’t know other than whilst putting this review back together the memory reappeared. This review is from JJ and dates from February 2005.
Scantily-clad women wresting in obscene outfits (not to mention the obligatory mud wrestling). For some this sounds like a winning recipe, but for others the least politically-correct release of the year (outside of Rockstar’s own schedule) ticks every possible wish-list of teenage gamers.
You have the nurse character; a femme fatale; busty blondes; a schoolgirl and many more besides. It would be easy to dismiss Konami’s Rumble Roses as a flagrant attempt to pick up the reigns from Tecmo’s Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, but to do so would be missing the point of the whole game: by looking beyond the flesh festival, the outrageous oeuvre, you’ll moreover find yourself having fun with yourself (ahem) – and many a time at that. Because, if nothing else, this politically-charged game is indeed a guilty pleasure.
Rumble Roses is ‘filled out’ like a typical beat ’em up, but in wrestler’s clothing. You have your standard versus mode and the main challenge arriving via story mode. Here you must take each character through their paces, fighting bitter rivals in your quest to become the wrestling champion. In so doing, additional characters and costumes are made available; the gallery function allows you to hear dialogue and zoom in on your favourite wrestler. Like Tekken’s Iron Fist tournament, Rumble Roses is the ultimate wrestling event that every wannabe wants to compete in. Each of the wrestlers has their own reasons for doing so – ranging from finding a lost relative, to covert government investigations, or simply proving they are the best. The character stories are driven by cut sequences that only heighten your awareness of the clothing available. The stories themselves are so imbecilic that they eventually become endearing, but thankfully, take a backseat to the ‘action’ itself.
It’s somewhat ironic that Konami – relative newcomers to the wrestling genre – can produce a game which is superior to most Smackdown! releases of late. Of course, this isn’t saying much as the ‘next generation’ competition hasn’t exactly broken free of its PSone shackles. The qualitative difference here is Konami taking their arcade experience and pinning it firmly on the ‘breast’ of a wrestling-cum-beat ’em up hybrid. Speaking of which, the flesh festival will no doubt prove alluring to some, but in addition the familiarity of known fighting regimes will attract others who might normally be dismissive of the wrestling-cum-pantomime experience. The real selling-point (as opposed to the fairground attraction of mud wrestling) is the visuals – which clearly allow for successful interpretation of moves. You can also sit back and soak up the scenery if you wish, as two CPU characters will go head to head. The camera is well-behaved and the focus on killer moves really brings a television dynamic to fights, despite the fact there is (thankfully) no overriding commentary.
Characters are convincingly-detailed (Konami has claimed 10,000 polygons per model), animate fluidly and overall have a ‘replay’ quality that has technically become the norm. However, there is no accidental loss of accessories – perhaps these girls ‘superglue’ their sunglasses? The sound is a mixed bag, with hysterics and sound effects coming across well as each girl dishes out (and receives) heavy punishment. Those fans of Ferrari F355’s particular blend of J-Pop will be well-catered for with the generic selection of tunes on offer. The fighting system has been streamlined for accessibility, and goes hand in hand with the arcade feel. There is no training mode to speak of; instead you’re left to find a wrestler that matches your own style. For instance, the judo wrestler is extremely adept with grappling and submission moves, while the loudmouthed cowgirl packs a brutal wallop (and mulekick, for that matter).
Nevertheless, there is some degree of thought required (especially on the higher difficulty), as it’s simply not a case of building up momentum before unleashing the killer move. Submission moves work extremely well if you react quickly and counter any attempt to escape. Yet the AI is a little unpredictable at times, as it will often fail to follow up a decent combo with a killing move when it has the initiative. One common occurrence is when you are on the ground and the CPU character will be grappling for (what seems like) an eternity. It’s almost as if it were catching its breath before resuming. Despite the political rough and tumble, Rumble Roses should prove popular enough. Beyond the jaw-dropping visuals there’s actually a fun and entertaining piece of ‘soft’ ware to be held, er… had. So what if it raises a few eyebrows? It’s only a game.
Gamestyle Score: 6/10