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Backlogged - "Rumble Roses" (2004)

(I own hundreds of video games, but haven't played most of them. Backlogged is a series where I fix that.) 

I've been getting into WWE lately. Like, really into it. Like, "took the full plunge and subscribed to the WWE Network" kind of into it. Historically, I've been kind of a passive observer, but I've always liked what I've seen. I could name a few wrestlers. I could name some key matches. I knew basic storylines. But this is the first time I've taken the full plunge.

So, I could have taken my copy of WWE 2k14 off the shelf and gone through it for the first time. Instead, I pulled out a trashy exploitation game from the era of video games where that was more okay. The Attitude Era of video games, if you will. Let's drive on down to Suplex City, because it's time for Rumble Roses.

It's worth pointing out that I'm not a total stranger to the Rumble Roses franchise. Back when I was thirteen or fourteen, I saw a copy of the sequel, Rumble Roses XX, laying around with some bargain games in my local GameStop. I bought it for three bucks, played the hell out of it, and thought it was the greatest thing ever, because I was a teenage boy and thought that basically naked women punching each other was a novel concept. Actually, shit, I still kind of think that. Moving on...

Thing is, I like video games first and cleavage second, so a game has to be good in order for me to actually play it. That's why I threw my copy of Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 in the trash can back in the day. Or something. I actually don't know what happened to it, if I'm being honest with you. But I digress. Beneath the dumpster fire of creativity involved in the production of what is clearly Konami's flagship franchise, there was actually a good game in Rumble Roses XX. The wrestling mechanics, visuals, music, campy plotlines... all of it was surprisingly great, and aside from being a horny teenage boy, I think that's really what kept me playing. And I think, despite being embarrassed at having played it, that's why I remember it fondly.

And I guess that's why I picked up the PS2 original a few years back. I had fond memories of the sequel, so why not try the first one? So, naturally, I slapped it on a shelf for a few years and just now picked it up because of aforementioned DUBYA-DUBYA-E binge. Sounds about right.

I probably should have picked it up sooner, too, because it's actually a pretty damn good time. Granted, it's dated, campy, crass garbage, but in the best possible way. 

The new slogan of this blog tbh
Basically, it's a straight-up wrestling sim in the same vein as most of the mainline WWE games. It feels a lot like those because it's by YUKE's, who've slaved away at interactive depictions of Vince McMahon's cash cow since, I believe, Before Common Era. As you play the game, much like XX, you can tell it's something developed by seasoned pros of the genre.

This means you've got your grappling systems, your special moves, your interactive set pieces, your easily accessible yet ridiculously in-depth controls. Everything you've come to expect from a typical wrestling game is present here. Except instead of sweaty, oiled-up men in bikinis and latex yelling at and suplexing each other, you've got sweaty, oiled-up women in bikinis and latex yelling at and suplexing each other. It's a big difference, I swear!

Very big.
See, the big appeal of Rumble Roses has always been that aforementioned promise of stereotyped fetishes getting in the ring and beating each other of-... um, up, in the most sexual ways possible. And even though PS2 graphics can really only be so sexy (although, real talk, video game graphics are pretty much never sexy,) bless YUKE's precious hearts, they really try here. No woman is spared from odd-looking contortions, leg-spreading, torso-sitting... pretty much any kinky femdom shit you can come up with is probably in this game. I mean, dude, there's even a literal dominatrix character, two if you count the ninja one, which I do.

So, yes, these PS2-rendered video game women are contorting and suplexing in tight clothing for the tittilation of a presumably male (and I guess lesbian/bi) audience. Sounds like a great game, right? Well, big shock, because it actually is! Actually, maybe "great" isn't the word. Maybe more like "surprisingly good despite the limited audience its so clearly going after." Doesn't roll off the tongue, but it's more accurate!

Rumble Roses' is, at its very core, a deeply idiotic game, and I'm pretty sure YUKE's knows this. The storylines, which range from a rocker trying to save an orphanage to a nurse creating a robot wrestler woman, are completely bonkers. It takes the "make it bigger and dumber" philosophy of pro wrestling, then takes it to its logical extreme. The dialogue is cheesy, the characters fit into their tropes to the point of parody, the plots are absurd... everything that's "good" about WWE is "good" here. The tone and spirit of the, erm, "sport" are preserved perfectly here. And considering how cold and unfeeling so many actual WWE games are, that's actually an accomplishment.

I'm honestly kind of shocked at Rumble Roses. Not only does it hold up after playing its technically superior sequel first, but it manages to be something I can see myself coming back to from time to time. It's a silly, campy game with lots to do, and good gameplay to back it up. Not even shitty-looking mud wrestling and some dumb-as-a-folding-chair AI can hold it back from being well worth your time if you're into wrestling, big butts, big breasts, or all of the above.

Hope this first entry in a long time of Backlogged was a fun one! I'm sort of revamping the column to be less in-depth, more quick blogs about me just catching on stuff I never played. More fast and loose than before, because it's my blog and not a professional website. Enjoy!


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