Wednesday, September 9, 2009

GameFAQs Review - WWF Royal Rumble (Dreamcast)

My first experience with a WWF arcade game wasn't the Wrestlefest game (because I've never seen it in arcades around my block) but rather the Midway-produced WWF Wrestlemania arcade game, a strange little beast that involved some of the more popular WWF wrestlers of the time competiting in Mortal Kombat-style wrestling matches (without all the blood and fatalities). For the time, it was a fun little game, but involved little wrestling. Years later, I come across a Royal Rumble arcade machine that I've only heard about and this was more like a wrestling game than the other one was. You could either play in straight matches or compete in the Royal Rumble match itself, which was a crazy experience in and of itself. This ought to be a fun game to bring home, right?

Eventually, THQ did bring it home to the Dreamcast. Unfortunately, chances are not many people got to play it because it was released somewhat late in the Dreamcast's lifespan before Playstation 2 arrived and demolished Sega's hardware dreams forever... which is a shame. In any case, a few years later (more like last year actually), I had managed to pick up a Dreamcast with a few games, which included this game. So I decided to give this game a go to see if it was as memorable as I remembered it... and the end result is... it's okay, but lacking. How lacking? Let's see here...

GRAPHICS: Essentially, Royal Rumble looks really good for the time and essentially looks much cleaner than anything you'll find on the Playstation-1. However, that really isn't saying much. The wrestler models look blocky but smooth, their faces are static and terrible, and the cheesy cardboard audience look particularly fake. On the other hand, I seem to recall the arcade game looking just as bad, so in that respect, this home port is fairly accurate in that regard. As far as the overall presentation goes, it looks fairly nice and the various counters and menus are aesthetically pleasing for the most part. So, all in all, it looks fairly nice although all things considered, it could have been much better.

Also, another thing lacking is the arenas. Don't like that Royal Rumble PPV set? Well, too bad because that's the only set you're going to get. Mind you, that's all the arcade version had to work with and I'm not going to argue on that point, but considering this is a home port, you would think they'd try and at least bump up the package with a couple more arenas, even if they're not related to the PPV. 7/10

SOUND: Nothing special to say the least. You have the various wrestler theme songs, but you only hear them when you win a match. The rest of the time, it's just generic stock music that is neither memorable or even remotely good. Alas, there's also no commentary, which is somewhat disappointing but otherwise not a huge loss. And of course, there's your usual array of stock sound effects for punches, kicks, takedowns, and generic wrestler grunts. Nothing particularly special. 6/10

GAMEPLAY: Just to get it out of the way, the roster featured in Royal Rumble is pretty small. You have about twenty plus wrestlers to choose from and that's pretty much it. Not much else in terms of unlockables; what you see is what you get. Nothing more, nothing less. Again, that's about the same amount as the arcade, but you'd think that they'd be able to fit a couple more guys in there; if not immediately playable, then as "surprise" opponents that become playable when you beat them.

There's two main modes in the game; Exhibition and Royal Rumble. Exhibition is your standard "Arcade" mode where you pick a wrestler, along with a ringside partner who will aid you in double-team attacks, and must fight through all the other WWF superstars before facing off against the McMahons in the final match. Other than that, there's not much else to it. No championships to compete for, no feuds or anything of that nature. Just a series of unrelated matches await you in this mode. That's pretty lame considering more could have been done. And this is a flaw with the game itself, not just this Dreamcast version.

And then there's the Royal Rumble match, in which you have to clear the ring of a number of wrestlers (you can determine the number) that keep coming in until you're the last man standing... anyone who has seen a WWF/E Royal Rumble PPV knows how the match works and it works the same here for the most part. What makes this incarnation of the Royal Rumble impressive is that it is possible to feature up to nine wrestlers at one time. Nine wrestlers at one time is not a bad stretch for a decade-old console, especially when wrestling games on the modern game consoles only feature six wrestlers at any one time. Of course, considering there are times when you will be facing off against multiple opponents at the same time, things can get pretty hectic. It's only too bad that you can't play nine players because that would have been a neat concept.

Regardless of which mode you play, the controls is fairly solid, with a simplistic format that allows you to pull off extravagant moves with ease. Aside from your usual assortment of grapples and whatnot, you have double-team moves you can pull off at certain times. As you fight on, you earn S-points, which allow you to pull off more powerful moves and eventually your finisher. As usual, you can either score a pinfall or make the guy submit... although if you have the option on, you can just go for a quick KO and be done with.

In most respects, it's a really barebones system that is even less sophisticated than what you find on the old WWF Smackdown games on the Playstation-1 and while this is fine for an arcade game, for a home console release, it's quite lacking to say the least. On the other hand, it's much easier to pull off moves than in Acclaim's wrestling offerings on the same system, so there's a saving grace. And as much as I liked those games, I'd feel much better not having to execute some awkward button combination just to pull off a simple move such as an ARMBAR, much less a more complex move like the SASKATCHEWAN SPINNING NERVE HOLD. Whatever works, man... whatever works. 7/10

CHALLENGE: Much like any other game, Royal Rumble allows you to adjust the difficulty setting, but even so, this isn't all that hard of a game once you get the hang of the controls. The only real challenge stems from the Royal Rumble mode, which is essentially this game's version of a Survival mode on steroids... um, maybe that's not the right analogy considering the subject matter, isn't it? I guess not... 7/10

REPLAY VALUE: Not much, I'm afraid. Although the game supports four players, guess what? So do a couple other wrestling games not on the Dreamcast and those game have more variety in terms of modes and match types... which doesn't help this game much either. But on the other hand, the Royal Rumble mode is a fun experience in itself that most players have try at least once... I have yet to see a wrestling game since then pull off the same hectic experience that this game does. 7/10

OVERALL: At its best, WWF Royal Rumble is a game that does an excellent job of bringing the arcade game to the Dreamcast with little effort and is actually an enjoyable little game thanks to its really good Royal Rumble mode. With that said, WWF Royal Rumble is also a weak wrestling title, especially with regards to the other wrestling games of the time which not only boast larger, more varied rosters, but also a plethora of match types and game modes that expand the game experience immensely. Still, this is a fairly good game that manages to entertain for the most part and the fact that this ring can hold nine guys at a time does give it some points for effort. Dreamcast owners looking for the perfect wrestling game will probably have to look elsewhere, because this won't cut it. But if you have fond memories of the arcade game or just want a wrestling game without all the extra dressing, then WWF Royal Rumble should satisfy your needs quite nicely. 7/10

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it real and keep it clean.