I can remember back to the first moment that I heard about the Wii's unique motion-sensing controls. I remember being intrigued by all of the ideas and impressed that Nintendo would make such a radical departure from the status quo. However, while I was definitely interested in the motion controls, I was also more than a little skeptical. I worried that games would devolve into nothing more than me shaking the control around like a man having a seizure. I worried that my arms would grow tired and I would learn to hate playing video games. I was worried that adding motion controls to older generation titles would ultimately ruin them. I was worried about the unknown. Come to find out it wasn't all Wii games that I was worried about, but rather just one - Ready 2 Rumble Revolution.
In case you just started playing games this generation, Ready 2 Rumble was a wildly successful Sega Dreamcast game that would later spawn a half-assed sequel and jump over to the PlayStation 2. It's been nine years since we last saw this over-the-top boxing game and its quirky cast of pugilists. As far as I'm concerned the timing is perfect, I've been yearning for a good arcade-style boxing game, and we already know how successful the boxing portions of Wii Sports are. As far as I was concerned this was a match made in heaven.
Unfortunately it doesn't take long before you realize just how hideously bad Ready 2 Rumble Revolution actually is. It manages to mark off everything I hate about bad Wii games. Is it hard to control? Check. Does it make my arms ache after only a few seconds of play? Check. Do the graphics look muddy at best? Check. Will this make me never want to turn my Wii on again? Check, check, check! This is just a terrible, terrible game, and no matter how good you get at it, it won't change the fact that the controls are too imprecise, the action is too disjointed and the modes just aren't compelling enough to keep you motivated.
The real problem with Ready 2 Rumble Revolution comes down to the controls, had the waggle functionality been more precise the developer could have salvaged this mess. Pulling off a basic punch is easy enough; you do that by air punching the TV screen. However, to pull off other moves you will need to thrust your Wii remote (and nunchuck) in different directions, many of which don't feel natural. But the biggest problem with this set up is that often times you will need to waggle both the remote and the nunchuck at the same time. The problem with this is that the Wii's motion-sensing abilities are not up to the task, and I found that many moves could not be pulled off consistently due to the imprecise controls. More times than not it's the nunchuck that has the problems, I have a hunch that this little piece of plastic wasn't intended for this kind of torture.
There are other problems, some of which are bad enough to wreck any fun you may have been having. For example, most of the powerful hits require you to pull back and wind up your attack. This makes sense, the very idea pulling my arm back to get ready to lay a powerful punch is a natural enough move. However, the whole thing is marred by the fact that more times than not pulling back your arm will accidentally trigger a weak attack. Not only does this ruin whatever plan you thought you had, but it also leaves you vulnerable to attacks. Not being able to pull off specific moves because of shoddy controls is a deal breaker, and it's the reason this game is scoring such a low grade.
The controls are so bad that I found that most rounds simply devolved into me waving my hands in the arm, sort of the 21st century version of button mashing. The thing is, this wasn't a concern with the older Dreamcast titles. While they weren't in the same league as the Soul Caliburs and Street Fighters of the world, Ready 2 Rumble 1 and 2 had interesting play mechanics that rewarded skilled players. That's just not the case with this long-overdue sequel. Winning a match doesn't require skill, instead it requires luck.Believe it or not, this could have been easily remedied. All the developers had to do was add an option to use the classic control (or a GameCube pad). We already know that this type of game works well with a standard control, so why not? Better still, Aki Corporation wouldn't have had to change the controls around much; it just seems like a no-brainer. But alas, they decided to stick with the flawed motion controls.
The game offers a story ... kind of. You create a boxer from a limited amount of parts; you buy clothing and then train him to win. That means that you will need to not only send your created character into battle, but also play a bunch of mini-games to work up his attributes. This sounds like a perfectly reasonable mode on paper. After all, this is hardly the first game to implement something along these lines. However, like every other element in this game, this story mode is marred by inconsistent controls.
The mini-games are the perfect example of what is wrong with this game. Each of the mini games is meant to help you perfect the controls and get used to using the Wii's motion control. Unfortunately, all these modes made me want to do is kick my Wii through my television set. Just as an example, one of the modes wants you to quickly move the remote and nunchuck in one of four directions in something of a variation on Dance Dance Revolution. The problem is that your movements rarely register, so you'll find yourself sitting there failing all of these mini-games for no reason. It's frustrating and a huge waste of time.
In an interesting twist, NONE of the original Ready 2 Rumble pugilists make a return appearance in this long-awaited third installment. Instead we get a bunch of boxer parodies based on various famous celebrities. I'm not joking. A perfect example of this is ex-Baywatch star (and famous alcoholic) David Hasslehoff. In fact, he's not just parodied in the game; he's actually out there doing the promotions and hitting the late night talk show circuit. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about Ready 2 Rumble Revolution's cast of characters, then nothing will.
Sadly it's not just the Knight Rider himself that makes an appearance; you'll also recognize a number of other celebrities. Some are more obvious than others. For example, it's easy to make out Jack Black, Simon Cowell and the Fight Club-era Brad Pitt looked familiar. However, there are a number of characters (David Beckham?) that barely resemble their real life counterpart. At the end of the day it really doesn't matter how closely these characters resemble the real deal, all it does is illustrate the problem with the game's overall cast.
Speaking of which, I found it to be a little odd that not a single character in the game was a woman. In fact, you can't even make a female character in the game's lackluster build a boxer character editor. Both of the original Ready 2 Rumble games offered female fighters. Heck, you could play as Hillary Clinton for crying out loud. And I can't even think of the last fighting game to go without a strong female character. Have our opinions of inter-sex boxing changed that much in the last nine years?
But the real crime that this game is guilty of is locking most of the best stuff away. Ready 2 Rumble Revolution is one of those games that wants to be known for having a ton of cool bonuses. To do this they hide away half of the cast of characters, limiting you to only eight selectable characters from the start. In order to win the other characters you are going to have to (surprise, surprise) play through the single player mode. This might have been acceptable had the game been fun to play, but it's not. You couldn't pay me enough money to go through the game with each and every character, it just isn't worth it. Not only is it needless busy work, but it's the kind of workout that only a slave driver would think up. Constantly air punching is not my idea of a good time; it might as well be the anti-WiiFit workout.
Ready 2 Rumble Revolution has a very specific art style. It' s not a good art style, but it's definitely unique. Everybody in the game is super deformed, but not in the funny cartoon sort of which. Instead the style seems to extenuate each character's worst quality. While it's clear that they're trying to make fun of a bunch of celebrities, the game's art direction makes these characters look like creepy pedophiles. In fact, the only character that comes out looking good is Michael Buffer, the man that trademarked the phrase, "Let's get ready to rumble!"
Even worse than the graphics are the sounds each character makes. Seeing how these characters are parodies of celebrities, you shouldn't expect the voice acting to be on the same level as, say, Metal Gear Solid 4. And, honestly, the voice acting in this game isn't terrible. However, there's no reason we need to hear the same phrases so many times. By the end of the game these catchphrases will haunt your dreams. It's also worth noting that some of the voice acting is borderline racist. It may not come out and use any derogatory languages, but it definitely skirts that fine line. Usually this would be a bigger deal, but when I'm dealing with a game that is practically impossible to control, I think I'll let this one slide.
Ready 2 Rumble Revolution could have been the Wii boxing game to steal some of the wind from Nintendo's own Punch-Out!! sequel. But alas, this is just not a good game. Heck, that's not even strong enough. This long-awaited third installment is easily one of the worst sports games I've ever played and an early contender for the worst game of the year. The game's controls are inexcusable, especially now that the Wii has been out for a couple of years. If Atari wants to pull themselves out of the financial rut they find themselves in then they are going to have to try a little harder than this.