For years, gaming has been accused of objectifying women in its products. From the over-enhanced attributes of Lara Croft to the bouncy “breast physics” of the DOA series, it’s really hard to refute the “jiggle factor” that many games exploit. Unfortunately, not a lot of them own up to the unrealistic dimensions of their female characters. Not so with Konami’s wrestling title, Rumble Roses. This title is so unapologetic in its presentation of cheesecake, it could be a bakery.
The story mode for the all female cast is the primary thrust of the game; in fact, outside of the exhibition mode where you’ll be able to go against the computer, an opponent or merely sit back and watch the computer right itself, this is the sole mode of the game. Essentially, the story mode goes like this…You pick one of the ten main characters, each of which has a particular moral alignment. Like all wrestling titles, your grapplers are either faces (good girls) or heels (bad girls). Either way, each one has a reason to join the Rumble Roses tour and attempt to challenge the champion of the organization, Lady X.
Let’s talk about the characters you’ll potentially take to the ring, shall we? Umm…how do I put this, exactly? Let’s just say that Rumble Roses covers just about the gamut of potential male fantasies or fetishes. We’re talking about everything from naughty schoolgirls and teachers to, well, naughty nurses and dominatrixes. However, each character has an “alter ego” that is unlocked whenever you complete their story, a contrasting persona that shows a different moral side to that wrestler. So Reiko becomes Rowdy Reiko, while Candy Cane becomes Becky the cheerleader, etc. It provides some degree of replayability to the game when you face off in the squared circle.
Speaking of the mat battles, you have strikes which can be strung together into punch or kick combos. Aside from dashing attacks, you’ll also have access to a number of throws and grapples that you can use to target specific parts of the body and wear down. In fact, wearing down the arms, legs, head or body of a wrestler can result in a submission attack, forcing your opponent to tap out. Each successful attack builds up two power meters; One of them can be used to trigger lethal/killer moves, damaging attacks that inflict significant wear and tear on your opponent. The other can be used to trigger a humiliation move, a flashy hold that comes close to total exposure of your rival in an embarrassing way.
In a way, embarrassing is one of the more accurate ways of explaining certain facets of the game. First of all, the Gallery mode that’s been included is literally a 13-year-old’s wet dream gone wild, with targeted shots of the ladies performing stretches or placing themselves in compromising positions. It’s something that, as a pubescent boy, would probably give you a thrill, but as an adult comes across as a novelty or a perverted game feature. In some ways, it’s even hard to fault Rumble Roses for being so overtly sexually skewed; at least it’s blatant about it and makes no excuses for it. However, the game is so completely shallow that it falls into just about every bad stereotype the industry has fought against.
Case in point: There are literally three arenas that you’ll wrestle in: The Rumble Roses Arena, an underground club-like arena, and a mud wrestling pit. This is boring and uncreative, even with the flamboyant entrance videos. In fact, the mud wrestling pit is probably the most gimmicky and most poorly included feature in the game. It can only be selected as an exhibition match, but the lack of ropes and the relative inactive effect that the mud has on a bout makes the feature relatively useless. Secondly, there aren’t a lot of moves that are included in this game. It’s quite possible to use every single maneuver that a character has in one match because the move set is so limited. What’s more, while you have to complete a character’s story mode to unlock their alter ego, it’s possible to go through their tale in a half hour (less if you’re used to wrestling games). This is incredibly weak, because a dedicated player could easily go through the entire game in half a day and basically get through the main thrust of the game. Is it even worth it to play over once you’ve done this? Nope…Hell, there’s only one belt that you can win, and that’s only after you’ve spent a small amount of time with a character in exhibition mode. Where’s the fun in that?
Considering that one of the main features of the game is the Gallery Mode, you’d hope that the game is pretty, and you’d be right. Using more than 10,000 polygons per model, you’ll be looking at some of the best character models ever seen for a wrestling game. These ladies make the WWE game divas look like older, obsolete game sprites. (Think Super Mario Bros. vs. Super Mario 64). Coupled with some of the most elaborate (and ridiculous, in some cases) entrance videos ever seen in wrestling, you’ll be impressed, or stunned, with some of the animations you’ll see included. For some players, this will be truly drool-worthy, with plenty of camera angles designed to capture the most salacious shots.
Unfortunately, the sound department isn’t as great as the graphics. The voice acting is more than bad: it’s laughable, painful and unbearable at best. Granted, part of this is due to the script the actresses were given, because the lines they have are atrocious, but even the few decent ones feel forced and overacted. The music doesn’t fare any better, with plenty of overdone guitar solos, sugary pop songs and even a twisted rendition of David Lee Roth’s Yankee Rose.
While there’s something to be said about the upfront nature of Rumble Roses as a jigglefest, you’d almost hope there was more behind it to make it more of a guilty pleasure than a gimmicky title. Unfortunately, the lack of significant modes, limited moves for characters and uninteresting replayability after quickly unlocking everything makes Roses something for only the most diehard wrestling fan that has to have every wrestling title on the market or young boys that’ve never been around a woman. You may want to rent this one rather than spend the money on this bouquet of roses.