An old-fashioned rumble.
I had a hard time when I got into fights as a child. While all the other kids
learned how to fight by watching Rocky, I learned how to fight watching
West Side Story. Needless to say, all my finger snapping and pirouettes
did little to stop that left hook heading for my jaw. Somehow, it was always
more effective in the movie.
Rest assured, however, that when Michael Buffer says "Let’s get ready
to ruuuumble!" he’s not referring to the Sharks and the Jets prancing around
and singing about having rockets in their pockets (stay cool, boy.) Ready
2 Rumble Round 2 is the sequel to last year’s successful Dreamcast launch
title, and while many of the problems of last year’s version are fixed, it still
feels like the exact same game.
When the Dreamcast first came out, Ready 2 Rumble
was impressive graphically. However, in the past year, some downright amazing
looking games have been released, such as Ecco
the Dolphin. This doesn’t mean that the Playstation
2 version looks any better, however. In fact, the Dreamcast and PS2 versions
look almost identical.
On the plus side, both versions have smoothly animated boxers and those fantastic
facial expressions that set the original apart from the pack. On the minus side,
in order to maintain the framerate, the arenas are remarkably lame. If you can
name one boxing arena in real life where the spectators have to be at least
twenty feet from the ring, I’ll give you a cookie.
One of the best features of R2R Round 2 is the sheer number of hidden
characters. There are a total of 23 boxers that you can eventually choose, including
a few celebrities. After mastering the ways of Shaq-Fu for the Genesis,
Shaquille O’Neil once again graces the video game screen. Accompanying him is,
of all people, Michael Jackson, who probably would have been better suited if
the game actually was based on West Side Story. Want to settle
the Monica Lewinsky scandal from the comfort of your own home? Believe it or
not, both Bill and Hillary Clinton are unlockable characters. Hail to the chief,
A big issue with the original game was the character imbalance. Some characters
were just plain easy to beat people with, and others were really hard to use
at all. While the opponent AI has been improved, the problem still stands.
There are four of ways to play. Arcade mode is your basic pick-a-boxer-and-fight
setup. Tournament mode is a Vs mode with a ladder setup with a max of eight
players. Team Battle mode works as it does in any fighting game; each player
selects several boxers and they fight until one player has no boxers left. All
that leaves is Championship mode…which is the real focus of the game.
Championship mode, you choose a boxer and train him before he ever sets foot
in the ring. The training takes the form of seven mini-games with varying degrees
of difficulty. There’s the Jump Rope, Sway Bag, Speed Bag, Heavy Bag, Rumble
Pads, Rumble Aerobics (with an overly-endowed and very bouncy female instructor),
and Weight Lifting. While you may be thinking, "Hey that sounds like a
lot of depth," think again.
The training is fairly easy to master and as long as you are decent at it,
your boxer becomes much more powerful than your opponent before you’ve even
set foot in the ring. In Championship mode, you dominate your opponents by the
fifth match. Let’s face it, this game is easy.
Add to that the new and "improved" Rumble meter. Whereas in the first
game using the Rumble meter gave you a series of fast, powerful punches, R2R
Round 2 has given the new meter three levels. Seemingly inspired by the
Street Fighter series, you increase your Rumble meter by landing solid
punches. The first level lets you execute the moves that were in the original
R2R. The second level makes the punches faster and harder. And the third
level throws gameplay in the toilet and allows you to beat your opponent with
a single punch, sending him flying out of the ring…along with the gameplay.
Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 is an arcade game, plain and simple. Unfortunately,
that just doesn’t cut it with today’s console systems. While it makes a stab
at depth with the Championship mode, that turns out to be a huge disappointment.
Is a good boxing game that hard to make? Finally, I just have to say that despite
my prancing and finger snapping, I could kick Michael Jackson’s ass, despite
the fact that one of his gloves is golden.