There are certain games that have “teenage boy” written all over them. A classic example is the Dead or Alive series of games, which in addition to having a very enjoyable fighting system has quite the most sophisticated “physics” I’ve ever seen. As the games have got better, the realism of the young ladies’ motion has stayed firmly in the cartoon end of the spectrum. And don’t even get me started on the Volleyball games, my goodness. I’m surprised that the games weren’t sold under a plain brown wrapper.
Anyway, what this somewhat rambling introduction is leading up to is another entry in this very niche category – Rumble Roses XX which was first released way back in 2006. On the surface this release from Konami appeared to be just another one of ‘those’ games, but hiding beneath the scantily clad ladies was a surprisingly competent wrestling game.
Now, I had first come across Rumble Roses even further back in time, in 2004 to be precise, when I played it on the PlayStation 2. At the time, there was talk of releasing it on the OG Xbox, but according to an interview in Kotaku at the 2005 Tokyo Game Show, the producer, Akari Uchida, said that the decision was made to develop for the Xbox 360 instead due to its superior technical capabilities. In the same interview, Uchida-san explained about the way the game was animated, saying “For this game, we’ve done a lot of motion capture and rendered individual motions for every character. No two characters will be moving the same way.” This certainly showed in the way the game was presented, as every character, of which there were many, had a distinct feel, a distinct moveset; getting to grips which with them all wasn’t the work of a moment.
Now, in a surprising move, there wasn’t a story mode included here, instead focusing on all-action wrestling bouts. While the story in the original game wasn’t going to bother the likes of Bethesda or Obsidian, it was nice to feel like your various rucks had a purpose. There was quite a bit of content to go at as well, with the chance to fight one on one, as teams of two in a tag team event, or even as a single wrestler facing a team if you really wanted to get battered. With not only the AI to take on, but with a fully-fledged online mode over Xbox Live in which up to four players can fight either as individuals or as teams, there wasn’t a lack of modes.
A nice touch in Tag Team mode was that when you chose a couple of girls who matched a list in-game, they then became known as a specific team name. These teams had their own special team intros, tag out sequence and even a special Double X move, and this helped to add to the drama. My personal favourite back in the day was The Kamikaze Typhoon, which was made up of Reiko Hinomoto and Noble Rose. Of all the girls in the game, I think that Reiko was my favourite single fighter, mostly as she appeared in the first game. It appears that Japanese gamers agreed, as Reiko was named as the fourth most popular female video game character in a poll in 2007.
The fighting system was surprisingly deep as well, and to win you either had to pin your opponent for the traditional count, or cause your opponent to tap out by using a submission move on them. If you were pinned or put in a hold, it wasn’t the end of the world, as with sufficiently rapid button presses it was possible to break free. However, as body parts get progressively more damaged, and as your overall health drained away, it became harder and harder to escape. Much as it is in real life, I imagine!
The fighting system involved not only grappling but striking as well; weakening the legs, for instance, would leave them open to a takedown once they couldn’t stand anymore. As strikes and grapples were performed successfully, there was a “finishing move” gauge that filled up, and this could be spent to unleash special moves. Any attack could be countered if you had the timing down (which is a lot easier said than done, I can tell you), and in a unique twist, consistently countering moves caused your opponents to become more and more humiliated. When the humiliation becomes overwhelming, you could unleash a powerful “H-Move” which, if landed, had a high chance of causing a KO and ending the match.
There were also Lethal Moves and Killer Moves, again becoming available when the finishing move gauge got high enough. Each character’s moves were different and, again, learning them all well enough to not only pull them off, but to be able to recognise them when they were used on you, was a stiff test of your resolve.
Now, what would a game of this type be without the ability to play dress up with your lady wrestlers? Unpopular, that’s what, and so the customisation options in the game went the usual route of being able to unlock swimsuits and different costumes for the combatants. But then this also went that little bit further giving the ability to adjust your chosen lady, via the medium of sliders, to increase or decrease the size and muscularity of their bodies. A step too far, methinks… although if somebody could increase my muscularity by messing with some sliders, I’d much appreciate it!
So, these are my memories of playing Rumble Roses XX back in the day. Do you have fond memories of female wrestlers beating seven bales out of each other? Did you never play it, but are now intrigued? It’s available from the Xbox Store and playable on Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S through back-compat. Let us know about your memories in the comments – these kind of articles are meant to be the start of a conversation, after all!