WWF Royal Rumble (Dreamcast) Review

Those who have been following my blog for a while, specifically these reviews, you may notice a certain love for the Royal Rumble match which stems from the 1992 Royal Rumble being the match that turned me into a diehard fan of the pseudo-sport for life (though sadly, not of the core WWF/E product, as it turns out…) So you can imagine my excitement when a new game titled “Royal Rumble” was announced as coming to the Dreamcast and that it had up to NINE wrestlers in the ring at once, a record number that has yet to be beaten (outside of the hilariously broken MDickie games, anyway…) Sadly being an arcade port there isn’t a lot to the game… at all. Is it still worth a look, you ask? Well, let’s find out!

Background:

It’s Kurt Angle… with hair! Those were the days… of many great things that may or may not have included Kurt Angle (with hair).

Royal Rumble was released in Arcades in early 2000 and was then ported across to the Dreamcast in August that same year in the US, the next month in Europe, and in April 2001 in Japan. The short time between Arcade release and the port’s release should show you how little was added for the home version!

For a game released in 2000 the roster is quite shockingly small. It features The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H, Mankind, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, Rikishi (first appearances under his most famous gimmick, but did already appear in “Rage in the Cage” during his Headshrinker days…), Big Show, Edge, Road Dogg, X-Pac, Tazz (making his WWF game debut), Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, D’Lo Brown, Al Snow, and The Godfather, plus Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon as unlockables.

It also features the game debut of Kurt Angle, which if you’re only going to have one wrestler make his debut in your game, that’s quite the significant one! Still, only 21 wrestlers is low for a game released in 2000…

Gameplay:

Big Show with a punch so hard it… explodes?

The gameplay is very similar to the then-recently released original Smackdown! game, though in this case it feeling very lose and Arcadey makes sense! A strike button and a grapple button, the ability to use both against a standing opponent or floored one, and the ability to jump off the top rope are the only real ways to attack, and the only other control is a block button . You do earn Specials that can be used to do finishers, but they’re also used to kick out of any pin attempts or avoid elimination in the Rumble, so using them for anything else seems like a waste, unless you’ve built up two or three and want to finish an opponent quicker.

Much like fellow Arcade game WrestleFest, there are only two modes on offer here: Royal Rumble and Exhibition. The Rumble is self-explanatory in a sense, but I will stress that your victory comes at eliminating 30 people before the time runs out, with each elimination increasing the time, rather than lasting to the end of a strict 30 man match. This combined with a very lose elimination system where you can get knocked over the top rope extremely easily makes for a very frantic time, especially if all 9 stars make it to the ring. Due to the small roster however, there is often multiples of the same wrestler entering the match, sometimes when their duplicate is already in the ring! It’s fun for a short burst, especially with a friend, but it does get old quite quickly…

Exhibition is different from WrestleFest’s Tag gauntlet, instead seeing you chose a partner to accompany you to ringside as you have a series of singles matches with your second able to interfere when a meter fills up. This is, again, fine for a quick go, but doesn’t hold your attention for very long. That’s it! That’s your full-priced game!

Graphics and Sound:

I love the idea of Triple H being Al Snow’s manager…

The graphics are… fine. Given all the action on-screen at once the models are actually quite well realised and the lighting is fine. Animations are smooth too, so, it’s a shame there isn’t more to do…

Sound is also just “fine”. Generic crowd sounds and punch sound effects with no background music (apart from 10 seconds of entrance music during the Rumble entrances) or commentary during play. It’s not that bad, but it’s not that good either.

Thoughts Then:

*GASP!* Nine people in the ring at once!! … *DOUBLE GASP!* A noticeable drop in screenshot quality!!

When I first got it I was so excited and played the Rumble match over and over… for a few days. Then played it with friends and family, for a bit… Then it went on the shelf, followed a few years later by being packed away in a box, where it still remains. It may have been fun to have a quick bash on in the Arcade, but as an at-home experience it’s far too shallow.

Thoughts Now:

Who can stop Kane?” … Plenty of people, over the years…

My thoughts now are much the same. I’m sure it was a really fun Arcade game, but as an actual paid at-home experience it’s just extremely lacking in content. Fun for a quick bash, but that’s it.

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