Rumble Roses XX (Xbox 360) review
"Rumble Roses XX is not one of those games that uses visual flair to mask a complex game engine underneath. The graphics are an integral part of why the product works. Some people will hate that, but I honestly didnít. Itís just one more thing that adds to this gameís appeal. Anyone can start grappling, dropkicking and bouncing off the ropes within a matter of minutes. Itís easy to pick up and play."
Makoto Aihara is cute. Thereís just no getting around the fact. She has a pert little nose and those big eyes you expect from anime females, with a killer smile and a walking teddy bear for an escort. But get her in the ring and itís a different story. Sheíll dive at your feet, knock you to the floor and have you in a submission move so quick that youíll be moaning for mercy. Yes, sheíll look darn sexy while she does it, but at the end of the day there can be no doubt; sheís a wrestling machine.
Of course, so are the nine other leading ladies in Rumble Roses XX. Youíll find something to like in each of them, whether itís the way Reiko tosses her hair to the side and smiles for the camera, or the way Candy Cane canít control herself as she gets into rocking out the stadium. Despite their entertaining differences, the girls all share precisely one common feature: they look spectacular.
Certainly, there are some visual issues with Rumble Roses XX. Theyíre difficult to notice, though. Maybe youíll see part of a leg bleeding through an especially large bit of cleavage if two of the girls are grappling too closely, or an arm might disappear into a thigh for a second. Those are the sort of things you should expect, but theyíre not even common. For the most part, polygons stop where they should and textures look more than credible. Weíre not talking the ďcheck out those droplets of sweatĒ sort of presentation, but whatís here is easily enough to jumpstart the old libido. Thatís good, because this is a game that counts on you to be a lover of attractive females. Whatever your fetish--within reasonable boundaries--youíll find it met here.
Do you like French maids? Buy the outfit and take it to the ring as you stick someone in a suplex. Thereís something crazy-cool about slapping the snot out of your opponent while sheís trying to wriggle out of your grasp. Poofy black fabric and a white apron go all over the place, and maybe youíll even see some panties. If the camera isnít letting you see the goods, well, you can rotate it however you like to fulfill your wish. The maidís outfit is only the beginning, too. You can choose from a huge variety of clothing that includes a slinky cat suit (look at the way that form-fitting leather highlights each spectacular curve), bikinis, gym suits and even some special outfits from games like Metal Gear Solid. Mmm, yeah!
But wait a minute. You must be thinking ďOkay, so when do I get to hear about the gameplay?Ē The answer is that you already are. Rumble Roses XX is not one of those games that uses visual flair to mask a complex game engine underneath. The graphics are an integral part of why the product works. Some people will hate that, but I honestly didnít. Itís just one more thing that adds to this gameís appeal. Anyone can start grappling, dropkicking and bouncing off the ropes within a matter of minutes. Itís easy to pick up and play. Before you know it, youíve blown two hours and loved every minute of it.
For the sake of argument, though, letís look at what depth is on hand. First, remember that youíre not going to be throwing fireballs across the arena or anything flaky like that. This is about pure physical contact. All moves are mapped to the controller with that in mind. Your options for most of a given match are as such: strike, special or grapple.
So letís say youíre wrestling that loveable minx, Aigle. Donít let her sultry smile fool you; sheís hoping to get you in a humiliation move that garners an easy victory. To stop it, you might rush her, grab her arms and then push her to the mat. Before she can react, youíll want to kick her legs to the side, then dive down and flatten her body under yours before grabbing her around the neck and pushing her into a choke hold. As the crowd gathered outside the ring roars with anticipation, sheíll try to break free. If this match just began, thereís every reason to anticipate her success. If youíve worn her down by attacking the same region of her body for a few minutes, you might have just won the match.
The developer threw in a few twists beyond that. One example of this is the humiliation meter. When your nemesis grows too ashamed of her pathetic performance, you can whip out a special finishing move thatís almost sure to succeed. Every slap you land, every painful grind you manage is enough to start your attack meter to filling, and you can store up to five charges. Some of these you can use whenever you like, while others require special circumstances such as your rivalís complete and utter dismay or perhaps her position near some ropes. Thatís cool in theory. In practice, youíll mostly just rely on the same grapples and slaps to guide you to victory (or defeat, if you suck).
To spice things up beyond that, there are tag team matches. These sound like they should lead to some exhilarating mayhem, but they more often result in frustration. Sometimes, Iíll pin my opponent something like twenty times but get interrupted half the time by a dropkick I canít avoid once I initiate a grapple. Sure, a bit of planning will put your enemyís partner out of commission, but it all feels like more of a hassle than it should. Of course, like most of this gameís flaws, it does come with a silver lining: compatibility. It turns out that each girl has a friend among the rest of the ladies. If you have Aigle and Makoto team up, for example, theyíll fix each othersí hair and give back rubs before the match. Meanwhile, some less adept teams will accidentally slap each other or just blunder their way to the ring in general. Itís silly but itís fun.
So, where does Rumble Roses XX go wrong? Is it too short? No. You can spend as much time as you like and thereíll still be something you havenít unlocked, whether itís the sexy swimsuit for Aigle or the schoolgirl suit for Aisha. Thereís something unique to each character, and even when something overlaps you have to add it to each individual wrestlerís wardrobe. Since doing so requires a lot of earnings, youíll be playing through plenty of matches.
Therein lies the problem: despite some twists on the familiar, this is an extremely repetitive game at its core. How many times can you slap someone into submission before it gets tiresome? No matter how sexy the on-screen ladies look--and I really havenít stressed enough how good they do look--theyíre fictional characters that canít jump out of the screen to keep you company. There comes a point where it just starts to feel silly, fighting through a few more matches to snag that cute bikini or to glimpse some new artwork. Even when you consider the photo shoot mode (with character models that seem bland compared to the ones you see in the ring) that lets you save images and share them with your real-life friends, or the Queenís matches (they let you force the loser to perform embarrassing moves like the limbo), you still havenít addressed that insurmountable flaw.
So yeah, Rumble Roses XX is ultimately all about the babes. Since they look so good, Iím willing to let it slide. If youíre down with that, you should expect plenty of hours of brainless fun from this package. But if you want a wrestling simulation game or a system that rewards you with its inherent complexity the more you play, you really ought to be looking somewhere else. It all comes down to that one choice: bosoms or depth?
Staff review by Jason Venter (April 08, 2006)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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