Consoul's Blog Consoul Games: Rumble Roses

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Rumble Roses

Konami, is that you?

Women in videogames tend to be significantly more buxom, pouty, and provocatively dressed than the majority of their real life counterparts. You don't need to be a genius to work out why that is. Most gamers are men. Most men enjoy looking at buxom, pouty, scantily clad women. You'd be hard pressed to find a woman character in a videogame who doesn't flaunt her sexuality to some degree. It's all a matter of degrees though. Some games can maintain a modicum of subtlety and class in this regard, even going so far as properly contextualising the character's behaviour and motivation within the plot (such as Silent Hill 2's Maria, or Metal Gear Solid 3's Eva).

On the other hand, there are games that seek to do none of this, offering shameless titillation without concern for plot, or even decent gameplay. In Japan, this kind of game is a genre unto itself. Japanese budget game publisher D3 has released a whole slew of games centred around women in bikinis doing stuff. Fighting, snowboarding, posing, playing mahjong, dismembering zombies, competing in wacky game-shows, growing to enormous size and crushing cities godzilla-style, etc. It's an established and accepted genre in Japan.

In the Western world, games like these have never really taken off. The notable exception is Tecmo's Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball (XBox) which was less of a volleyball game, and more of a boob-simulator. Tecmo's DOA fighting-game franchise was always better known for its cast of busty women and jiggle-dynamics than its core gameplay. Cashing in on this, Tecmo saw fit to release a game focussed on the girls of DOA bouncing around in swimsuits. It sold massive numbers all over the world, not because its target-market wanted to play volleyball, but because they wanted to see these virtual girls jiggling about in increasingly skimpy bikinis. Ironically, DOA:XBV is, in my opinion, one of the 'girliest' games ever made. Behind the eye-candy, the game is really all about shopping for outfits and accessorizing.

All this pre-amble brings me to the latest wrestling game from Konami. "The first and only all-women's wrestling game on any platform": Rumble Roses (PS2). Konami, the very same company that gave the world the Silent Hill and Metal Gear games, has shockingly released the new pinnacle in boob-powered videogames. Make no mistake - Rumble Roses hits the player over the head with overt T & A like no other game I've ever seen. It's all presented in a fairly light-hearted manner with no nudity whatsoever, and yet it seems more confronting than ever due to the lifelike animation. The fact is that in games that bother to animate breasts, they're typically more reminiscent of large globes of weightless jelly than any real body parts. Not so in Rumble Roses - its evident that a lot of time was spent perfecting the physics and motion of the Roses' bodies, such that they move, bounce and, dare I say it, sag in a very weighty and realistic fashion. And then there are the mud matches - that's right: women in bikins wrestling in mud. Another dubious first for videogames.

I asked myself how Konami could stoop so low as to produce one of these tacky pervert games that sacrifices gameplay and production values for the sake of cheap smut. Well, hang on a minute. It may look like a duck, but it doesn't necessarily quack like a duck. Konami developed this game in conjunction with Yukes, the undisputed masters of wrestling game design. Despite my view that (and I may be struck down for saying this) wrestling games don't rank too highly up the foodchain, I have to admit the gameplay mechanics of Rumble Roses are solid. It's slightly less complex than Yukes' Smackdown games but is just as well balanced and no doubt was simplified to make it more accessible and fun. Performing the usual wrestling moves fills meters, alowing each character to execute special killer, lethal and humiliation moves. Some of these are truly spectacular. The production values are actually very high; the graphics engine is impressive and the wrestling animation and motion capture work is top notch. There is actually a plot. A ridiculous one, to be sure, involving the use of a legendary dead wrestler's DNA in an evil scheme to produce cyborgs, but its better than nothing. Each character has a storyline, played out in cutscenes between matches. Each character also has an unlockable alter-ego, which is more than just a mere palette-swap or alternate costume. The alter-egos have their own distinct personalities and storylines. The voice acting is dire, but the soundtrack is very good, from the rocking cover of David Lee Roth's Yankee Rose, to new tracks from Konami's respected composer Akira Yamaoka. This game has Konami written all over it, from the character design, to the music and the billboards throughout the game promoting other Konami franchises.

Konami are not ashamed. Perhaps they shouldn't be. While they have produced an outrageously blatent T & A game, they have also made the first game of this type that actually plays well and is technically a quality production in almost every respect (attrocious voice acting aside).

Is it a great game? Certainly not.
Is it a good game? Yes, strangely enough it is.
Will it succeed? It has the potential to sell bucketloads.
Will it help change the popular perception of gamers as sexually frustrated geeks who need to get out more? No.

Rumble Roses will be released in Australia this Friday.


Blogger Petras said...

Bet you're glad you've got it though. One to come back to in those 'lonely times'

7:43 pm  

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