Ready 2 Rumble Revolution Impressions: Back In The Ring
Since it was announced a few weeks ago, Atari’s upcoming arcade-style boxing game for the Wii, “Ready 2 Rumble Revolution” has been fighting an uphill battle. It has more than a few things working against it, that it is going to need to overcome in order to change some minds about the game. Surprisingly, it only took about 15 minutes, and two matches to prove to me that the game is going to be better than I thought, which is great, but that’s not really saying much about what my expectations were.
It’s not “R2RR”’s fault that my standards may have been low, it’s just that I’m one of the fans of the original series that was really hoping to see “Ready 2 Rumble: Round 3” come out, and go head-to-head with EA’s “Facebreaker,” and show it who’s boss. The thing is, this game is a re-envisioning of Midway’s franchise that many arcade boxing fans hold near and dear, to their hearts, and it isn’t it “Ready 2 Rumble 3,” and that’s because it’s not meant to be.
The classic characters like Afro Thunder and Boris “The Bear” Knockimov are gone; replaced with “Revolution”’s cast of celebrity inspired boxers for you to choose from, which appear to take a queue from some of the previous “R2R”’s hidden characters. Fortunately, the “inspired” characters here work so much better here than real life celebrities that lent their likenesses to “Celebrity Sports Showdown.” It encourages the humor in the game, which is one thing the “Ready 2 Rumble” games were never short on, and it is one of the things that “Revolution” has carried over. Another of which is the irreplaceable spokesperson for the game Michael Buffer who will, of course, be returning as the game’s ring announcer.
Another thing that “Revolution” has to contend with is the low standard for boxing games that was set the day the Wii released with “Wii Sports.” Everyone knows the boxing in that “game” was horrendous, and not an accurate representation of what can be done with the Wii’s motion controls, However, that is the boxing game that everyone that owns a Wii is already familiar with, and “Ready 2 Rumble” has to distance themselves from that, and create their own identity, which, after my hands-on with the game, I think it accomplished quite well. While “Rumble” doesn’t create a 1-to-1 experience, it definitely cleans up the controls and makes throwing punches feel better.
After a couple of rounds, you can tell that the controls are good, eventhough they aren’t as tight as they would be if you played the game with a standard controller. All the punches are controlled with the Wiimote and Nunchuck, pressing “C” to control whether or not you wanted to hit ‘em high, or hit ‘em low, and if you wanted to block you just need to press “Z”. Varying your punches is as basic as varying the movement of the Wii controller to throw uppercuts or jabs. Once you’ve landed enough punches, or blocked enough of your opponent’s attacks, your rumble meter will fill, and you’ll be allowed to perform the game’s signature knockout moves. In order to initiate Rumble Mode, you just press the “A” button, and start swinging away with increased speed and power. Once your opponant is almost beaten to a pulp, simply go in for the kill to send them flying from the ring for an automatic K.O.
A game like this really comes down to accessability, and characters, because it’s a genre that’s been done before, and done well. The characters need to be memorable, or else people aren’t going to want to keep playing the game. Also, if you make it easy to pick up and play, whether it be in the single player or the multiplayer, because you never really want to “think” while you’re playing a boxing game – you just want to swing away. From my time with the game, “Revolution” seems like it has a chance to provide both of these things, but only a look at the final game will tell.
Don’t get me wrong; “Ready 2 Rumble Revolution” won’t be the Wii’s “Punch-Out!!” (who knows if “Punch-Out!!” is even going to be the Wii’s “Punch-Out!!”), but it does offer some rather fun party gaming. There isn’t much chance that “R2R” is going to bring hardcore gamers back to the Wii, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a few drinks with their friends and then take them on in a few rounds as a Brad Pitt look-alike, before they head out to the bar. After all, wasn’t that really the only time you played the original “Ready 2 Rumbles” anyways?