September 30, 2000
Wrestling has a huge following in America. The televised events quite often appear in the top 10 shows for the week. Game companies aren't shy about releasing wrestling games on a new system because no matter how bad they are the game is guaranteed to sell in the thousands. Acclaim have already released both ECW Hardcore Revolution and WWF Attitude on the Dreamcast but neither title managed to impress. This latest wrestling game, from the developers of WWF Smackdown, contains many of the fighters (read: actors) from the WWF series and also includes the famous Royal Rumble mode in which up to 9 players fight in the ring at one time.
WWF Royal Rumble is THQ, and Yuke's, first foray into the wrestling genre on the Dreamcast. Surprisingly, even with THQ's strong history of wrestling games WWF Royal Rumble is merely a conversion of the arcade game, with few additions for the home. Having never seen the arcade version in Australia, this will be a relatively new experience for gamers. With an official license from the World Wrestling Federation, this game includes 20 real-life fighters including The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle. The game also has sound snippets from the TV show to add to the atmosphere, although sadly there are no player introductions while entering the arena.
As previously mentioned WWF Royal Rumble only includes 20 or so fighters to select from. From a federation where there is at least double this number of fighters in real life this seems a little lacking. Still, it's no worse then the dozen or so characters in Tecmo's awesome Dead Or Alive 2. However, while Tecmo's title had a wide variety of moves, WWF Royal Rumble is severely lacking. Each fighter seems very similar in speed and style with little to actually distinguish them apart. If you put the same texture mapping on the various fighters you would think they were the same person. Each fighter also has a selection of special moves unique to them, although their implementation and usefulness is questionable. The amount of damage done by these moves seems a little unfair compared to the damage by a single punch to the opponent.
There are some minor gameplay issues with WWF Royal Rumble. It's impossible to choose between punching or kicking your opponent, while using a special move does little difference in damage to a basic kick. On more then one occasion you will find yourself facing away from the opponent and there isn't a way to automatically face the opposition when in this situation. The Royal Rumble mode can be a lot of fun, especially when there are 9 people in the ring but it suffers from the fact that fighters continue to re-appear after being knocked out. Once again it comes back to a lack of fighters in the game.
WWF Royal Rumble won't win any awards for the graphics and animation. It's sad that no wrestling developers manage to replicate the fighters as well as in most other 3D fighting games. Imagine how cool it would be to see Stone Cold or The Undertaker with as much detail as Mitsurugi or Voldo from Soul Calibur. The textures on the WWF fighters are adequate, but the animation is a little on the rough side. Still, THQ's game is a damn sight better then Acclaim's two wrestling titles.
Even with it's faults WWF Royal Rumble is quite a fun title. This is the best of the three wrestling games on the system by a long shot, although it lacks many of the options found in other games. A player creation mode would have been a great boost to this title, as would have more game modes and variation. For wrestling fans WWF Royal Rumble is probably an essential purchase, but if your just after a good fighting game on the Dreamcast you might be better off looking at Soul Calibur, Dead Or Alive 2 or Marvel Vs Capcom 2.