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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by THQ

Ups: Great graphics; really cool multiplayer modes; easy control scheme makes it great for newbies; great arcade port. 

Downs:  Control scheme is too simple; no extra modes; not enough wrestlers to play.

System Reqs:
Sega Dreamcast

rr1-01.jpg (6632 bytes)THQ’s first foray into WWF territory comes off as a mixed bag. On the one hand, WWF Royal Rumble is plain old fun – simple moves, nice graphics, and great multiplayer action make it easy to pick up and thoroughly enjoyable. However, perhaps because of its arcade background, Royal Rumble just doesn’t have the staying power we need in a Dreamcast title. Still, Royal Rumble is a great choice as a party game, and given the lack of wrestling games for the DC, it’s a welcome addition to the lineup.

rr18-01.jpg (6498 bytes)Royal Rumble is a pretty straight port of the popular arcade title. It retains its arcade simplicity, offering only three modes: Arcade Exhibition, Arcade Royal Rumble, and Versus. The Exhibition mode has you climbing the WWF championship ladder. The Versus mode is almost the same thing, except here you can set up two-on-two brawls with up to four players. Royal Rumble, a 60-man "over-the-rope" contest, also supports four players, and adds a whole new kind of multiplayer competition to the DC repertoire.

rr2-01.jpg (6226 bytes)The multiplayer aspect of Royal Rumble is one of the big things this game has going on. All of the multiplayer modes, especially the Royal Rumble mode, are a lot of fun to play with four people. While more DC games are coming out this fall that support four players, the extra two controller ports have been neglected for the most part over the past year. Adding a couple of extra human-controlled opponents to the mix, especially in a semi-cooperative mode, makes the game a lot more fun.

rr23-01.jpg (6846 bytes)Control in Royal Rumble is nice and simple. If you’re looking for an in-depth, complex fighting system, go pick up UFC. But if you want a button-masher that is incredibly easy to pick up and get good at, Royal Rumble could be just the ticket. Basically, there’s are attack, grapple, block/run, and taunt buttons. For most of the play, you’ll be mashing these buttons, especially the attack button, a whole lot. You also have special tag-team moves that are performed by hitting a two-button combo. At the beginning of each match, you choose a set of special moves that will be available as you fight. That element of Royal Rumble does allow you to strategize a little bit. And it’s not as if the control is completely devoid of pattern – you can get better at the controls and master a simple combo for each character. Still, it’s not as if you need a handicap function to pit veteran and novice players against each other. Furious pounding on the buttons will pretty much work in most cases.

rr32-01.jpg (7253 bytes)What is really cool about Royal Rumble are the graphics. This is, without a doubt, the prettiest wrestling game I’ve seen yet. The lighting is done nicely, and the wrestlers are nice and rounded, bulging where appropriate and everything. While most of the fighting takes place in the squared circle, there are several other areas available so you can "take it out of the ring." These environments are rendered nicely, with great textures and lots of atmosphere. The movement is done nicely, too, so the wrestlers actually look like they are performing the move they’re supposed to be.

rr46-01.jpg (6070 bytes)There’s really nothing wrong with Royal Rumble. Everything that’s there is pretty great, and it’s quite a bit of fun to play. But what prevents Royal Rumble from being an absolute "must-own" title is what isn’t there. With only 21 wrestlers (I know, to a non-wrestling fan that would seem like a lot) it just doesn’t compare with other wrestling titles out there. Plus, there are some notable exceptions to the lineup such as Chyna and Too Cool. The wrestlers who are represented are abbreviated, too. There are no wrestler voices, no commentary, and the entrance and winning animations are cut short. Also, lacking a create-a-wrestler function, which is pretty much stock in the genre these days, the game just doesn’t allow you to be as creative as you yearn to be.

rr54-01.jpg (5079 bytes)WWF Royal Rumble seems to have been done quickly and simply. While it is a great port of the arcade version, and a quality gaming experience, the depth just isn’t there. We’ve come to expect additional modes, characters, even VMU games in our new DC titles, especially arcade ports. Royal Rumble just doesn’t pay off in that respect, and its longevity suffers. Pick this one up and check it out; it’s definitely worth a play. But don’t expect it to keep you wrasslin’ for months.

--Shawn Rider