Double X? Try double D.
You don't have to be Betty Friedan to realize that women are objectified in many forms of entertainment, especially in the still-male dominated world of video games. But rarely is the objectification as overt as in Rumble Roses XX, which invites you to dress up well-endowed young women in barely-there bikinis and costumes, take pictures of their provocative poses, and trade them with friends over the Internet. All this in a wrestling game.
If just the thought of this or a game obsessed with bouncing breasts and zoomed in crotch shots makes you feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, you should probably steer clear of Roses -- a skin-deep game that delivers stunning graphics and a few of the tacky thrills that can be expected of an all-women's wrestling title featuring a bosomy blonde cowgirl as the cover model.
Of course, you should probably steer clear of the game anyway. The tired gameplay certainly seems a secondary concern to the developers. Sure, there is a mediocre wrestling game in here somewhere, but Rumble Roses's main concern is with women, or more specifically, their well-rounded body parts.
The 20 or so characters are a bizarre mix of sexual fantasy clichés: the naughty nurse, the young Japanese schoolgirl, the pigtail-wearing "barely legal" redhead, the masked S&M freak, and, of course, the hot teacher (who dances in a music video so close to Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher", I kept waiting for a David Lee Roth cameo).
XX doesn't even bother with a story as it did in the original PS2 game; here you are seemingly handed a random bunch of options and matches from which to choose. When the game beings, you are instantly thrown into a character select screen where, after you pick a character, you can modify her costume or even her body. If this sounds dangerously close to playing Barbie doll for perverts, it's not far off. (For example: don't think Candy Cane's heaving bosoms are big enough? Raise her bust percentage from 50 percent to 100.)
Once you have a character you're (sexually) satisfied with, you are sent to a map screen that shows several fight venues. From there you basically jump into matches, which range from the standard one-on-one, tag-team, and battle royal types, to more unconventional modes like street fights and a so-called "PHM" match where the object is to beat your opponent into humiliation. (One would think if you're wrestling half-naked in front of thousands of people, you're already fairly immune to humiliation.)
Winning a match simply gives you more money to purchase new clothes and sexy poses, and builds up your wrestler's popularity until you're eventually awarded with a title match. Unfortunately, the game isn't clear at all as to when this title match will occur. You just sort of pick random matches over and over until it happens. After winning the title, that's basically it -- there's not much more to accomplish.
The wrestling action itself is moderately fun for a short time before the repetitiveness of the action and the stupid AI of your computer opponents takes its toll. Each wrestler has a limited moveset, and the best strategy is to chain together a series of repetitive attacks which focus on one body part. Other wrestling titles, even ones developed by Yuke's, are the same way, but at least those offer a wide array of moves with which to submit or pin your opponents.
At the end of the day, Rumble Roses XX may be an adolescent boy's fantasy come true, but its hyper sexualized objectification of women combined with repetitive and shallow gameplay makes it a title to avoid for discerning gamers. Given the name of the inevitable sequel -- Rumble Roses XXX -- it's highly unlikely Yuke's will tone down the content.
10 May 2006