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WWF Royal Rumble
Platform:  Dreamcast
# of Players:  1-4
Developer:  Jackks Interactive
Publisher:  THQ
Features:  9 Superstars in the ring at once
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  A few blocks

Another month, another wrestling game. Nothing is more marketable to the general public at this point except possibly monster collecting games. Wrestling is huge right now and shows no sign of going away, but just in case it does, game companies are trying to squeeze as many cookie-cutter wrestling games out before the trend fades. The one distinctive thing about Royal Rumble is that it is the first WWF game to come out for the Dreamcast since Acclaim lost the license. Unfortunately that is the only reason to buy this title-not a very strong reason if you ask me.

Royal Rumble features only two different modes, Rumble and Career. In the career mode you pick a wrestler and a ring partner and try to rise up in the ranks defeating all of the other wrestlers to become the champ. If you have to ask me the goal of the Royal Rumble mode then you really do not watch enough wrestling. Just like in the real rumble you must defeat all of the other 40 wrestlers by throwing them off f the top rope and be the last man standing. If you win you are graced with a short video clip of your chosen wrestler celebrating the victory. That’s it. In the real WWF you would get a title shot but that kind of career move is not available in the career mode.

That is basically it as far as options go. The game serves its title well. It is really all about fighting in the Royal Rumble and nothing else, so they have tried to beef up this one contest to make it better than any other Royal Rumble mode in any previous WWF game. And…well they have succeeded, sort of. The most noticeable aspect about the match is the sheer amount of wrestlers they can pack into the ring at once without any slow down. This creates the mayhem that you see on the Pay-Per-View specials. There are fighters hitting each other and trying to get other guys out all over the place. If you stop to look around at what’s going on, you will have to spend a minute trying to find your guy again. Inevitably he will be the one getting his ass kicked in the corner. Add up to four human players into that fray and you have a great party game.

Aside from the mayhem that ensures in multi-player Rumble madness, the game does not really have that much to offer. The player models are not really that detailed and the faces are painted on and frozen in their expression. Forget about all of the following, announcers calling the action, building your own wrestlers, weapons you can pick up, blood, a huge variety of characters, and any other Pay-Per-View events. This is clearly not the game for someone who has no other wrestling games. It is more of an add-on for those who have everything else and are looking for a good version of the Royal Rumble.

The one aspect that does place this over Acclaim’s attempt at WWF games is the control. Royal Rumble is very easy to pick up and play. Though the moves are limited, they are very easy to pull off. Even the special finishing moves are performed with the press of only one button. No more complicated button combinations to learn. This means that that dumb wrestling fan that always stops by your house can get to see the People’s Elbow without having to look at a manual. All you have to do is build up the special meter to the point where it is maxed out. Some may feel that the ease of control is a little too simplistic but it works well in the Royal Rumble when you have to act quickly before the computer-controlled opponents throw your ass to the mat. The downside to this is that there really is not much of a learning curve so if you prefer getting better at pulling off the really hard moves you will be disappointed at the speed with which you will learn everything.

There I one last thing I have to mention simply because it is so ludicrous. As many of you who watch wresting know, the action behind the scenes is getting as much play these days as the action in the ring, and recent games have tried to capture this in their game play. Well if you look at screenshots and the back cover of Royal Rumble you will see backstage action. The problem is that you never go backstage to experience and of this fun. Let me explain. About 2 minutes into the match you will see the characters stop wrestling and look up as the screen gets brighter. At fist I though a wrestler was going to be coming in from the rafters Sting style, but then the screen goes completely white and the players are magically transported to a small backstage area or to a ring with a cage. It is so random and uncontrolled that is makes you wonder what the hell these guys were thinking when they made this option. Even Electronic Arts horrible WCW version allows you to walk backstage.

The game can be best summed up as add-on. It is one really good mode but not a full game unto itself. There just isn’t enough meat in it compared to other games in this genre. I guess the case could be made for doing one thing and doing it well, but that philosophy just doesn’t apply to video games anymore, especially wrestling games. If the creators would have spent as much time making the other aspects of the game great instead of just packing a ring with wrestlers then this could have been the must have Dreamcast wrestling game. As it is, it is just a good rental for those parties where you are looking for something to do after watching the monthly Pay-Per-View fare.

Chris Shade

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