Thinking about a boxing game for the Wii? Yeah, you’re probably thinking about Punch Out!!, but there are others. Maybe Little Mac just doesn’t do it for you, or maybe you’re still pissed off that Simon Cowell dissed your favorite American Idol and you want to beat the Brit out of him more than that sweaty slap-fest that is Wii Sports Boxing. Well then, ladies and gentlemen, lets get Ready 2 Rumble.
We actually got a chance to check out Ready 2 Rumble Revolution and see Michael Buffer give his trademark introduction at this year’s NYCC and had a pretty good time. Atari’s R2R series takes below the belt shots at boxing and celebrities once again, but now with Wiimote action. Getting to take on obvious and hilarious celeb caricatures and getting David Hasselhoff for advertising garners this game a much needed plus; but lets take a look at what R2R does right before getting into the bad.
First off I have to throw this out there: I’m the kind of guy that tosses instruction manuals and just jumps into things. Not a good idea with this game people. I haven’t been beaten that bad since taking on my seven-year-old nephew in Smash Bros. Yeah, embarrassing I know. Slow down and practice in the tutorial before moving on. The motion controls are well thought out with light punches thrusting the Wiimote or Nunchuk forward, heavy punches requiring pushing the Wiimote or Nunchuk sideways for the drawback then forward for the punch, and various dodges, blocks and weaving punches for added fighting strategies. Here players also learn about the RUMBLE meter, which is filled by taunting and counter punching. When full, it allows players to unleash devastating special combos that can give an instant KO if all of the punches hit their mark.
The character creation is great. Players can pick out pretty much everything about their boxer including how they are introduced in the ring. At first the options are limited as R2R forces players to win bouts for money and spend it unlocking all the extras, but there are still plenty available from the beginning to make that first boxer vicious or ridiculous enough to meet most players’ needs. Just don’t expect to create Michael Jackson or Rush Limbaugh from the start, like in Wii Sports (I still can’t believe the Limbaugh Mii won that fight). Creation doesn’t stop with nicknames and tattoos though, players also have to decide on character fighting style, all of which can be changed as many times as needed later. The controls are still the same for each style, but there are some special moves and timing differences so it’s good to experiment.
Once the character is created its time to enter the single-player championship and work through the ranks. The training week starts off with several mini-game options. Each challenge will boost certain stats like speed, but some will also lower other stats like punching power. It takes time to find out which training best suites playing styles, so its good to play all at first. Most of the controls for these work fine and help getting better at matches too, but too many screw-ups and it can lower all of the stats. This is especially annoying for the one or two mini-games that just don’t work well. One is a street running game. While the character runs in public people cheer and you have to point the Wiimote and Nunchuk where the arrows point. After a few good rounds the arrows start pointing in different directions at the the same time and barely give time to move. Think of God of War with half the time to figure out what button to push and having to push two at the same time. It just doesn’t work. Most of the mini-games are fun though and can be accessed outside of the championship mode using any character to top your best scores. Then between weekend fights that hard earned cash can be spent on costumes and the like to help spiffify your character.
Sadly that’s where the fun stops and reality sets in. Most of us don’t know how to box and apparently neither does our freshly created character. All the tutorials and training go out the window as you get taken down in the first round by some bastard that looks like he just thought boxing would be a good way to fill out a day otherwise composed of a dark room, WoW and Cheetos. What started as great sparring potential quickly became a Wiimote flinging slap-fest set to equal Wii Sports Boxing. Seriously, it looks like a chick fight without the hair pulling and cheering from the sidelines.
The problem is unresponsive controls and AI that is usually too quick to properly block or anticipate. Fighting Glass Joe, this is not. Most of the time, when I would go for a heavy hit, I’d swing the Wiimote sideways for the wind up and either get blasted by my opponent before I could swing, or I swung and it didn’t register leaving me wide open and looking stupid. Either way I got blasted. Different types of punches wouldn’t register either between straight shots and uppercuts. Going slowly and making obvious, often exaggerated moves register great; but good luck wining a fight that way. In the end this boxing game is too realistic–only hours in the gym boosting stats will give you the edge needed to win.
All of this could have been avoided by including alternate control methods. I’d recommend Ready 2 Rumble Revolution to everyone if the Classic Controller could have been used to play the game. Yes, motion controls can be wonderful and that’s one of the main reasons a lot of people buy a Wii; but what sounds great in theory doesn’t always deliver and this is just one more tragic example of that fact. R2R is good for a laugh and enjoyable for multiplayer but just falls apart with the motion controls in serious championship gameplay.
+ Great fun. Celebrity caricatures are convincing and hilarious, complete with catch phrases and signature movies. Don’t hassel the Hoff!
+ Huge character creation and customization options add a great level of depth and ownership over the experience.
+ This game ticks all the boxes for a fantastic title to have lying around for impromptu social gatherings.
– Motion controls are ill conceived and can fall apart quite catastrophically in single player matches.
– The extras needed to develop characters and add that depth can only be unlocked by getting further Championship mode, which can take a lifetimes due to poor and frustrating controls.