We recently got our hands on the latest preview build of Rumble Roses for the PlayStation 2, which, in case you've not ogled our previous coverage, is a wrestling game in which all of the combatants are scantily clad females. Although the actual wrestling in Rumble Roses is relatively simplistic, the game does boast a few interesting features, such as humiliation moves, a vow system, and, of course, mud wrestling. The game also offers an unusual number of essentially non-playable modes which, to quote from the version of the instruction manual that arrived with our unfinished copy of the game, are "for those who like to watch."
Like most one-on-one fighting games, Rumble Roses will be best played with a friend, but the game will also afford you plenty of opportunities to play with yourself. Each of the game's 10 playable characters, for example, will boast her own story mode comprising both regular and "mad mud" matches, prefight altercations with rivals, and lengthy dialogues with other characters that make WWE scripts look like the work of Shakespeare. Thankfully, none of the in-game cutscenes are overly lengthy and, since Konami is well aware that it's unlikely that this game will be bought for its storytelling (regardless of whether or not you actually do buy Playboy for the articles), they can all be skipped simply by pressing the start button. The ladies' ring entrances can also be skipped in the same way, which is just as well, since they're much longer than they need to be and will surely lose much of their appeal after two or three viewings.
Once you get into the ring (or the pool of vaguely mudlike liquid at the beach), you'll find that Rumble Roses lets you pull off some pretty impressive attacks and reversals without actually requiring you to do anything complicated with the controls. Strikes and grapples are performed using only two buttons; pins and supplementary moves employ a third button, while "lethal" and "humiliation" moves are mapped onto the left shoulder buttons. Reversing an opponent's attack simply requires you to push the same button that your opponent is while holding down R1. The reversal system actually works quite well--it's so easy to use that it should have a role to play during every fight, but the fact that you'll need to use different buttons to reverse the various attacks means that it'll be virtually impossible to counter every single move that's thrown at you. Incidentally, many of the grapple and submission moves in the game can take a little while to play out, and while that's going on you'll be given manual control of the camera so that you can get the best possible view of the action.
Manual camera operation is also the focus of Rumble Roses' gallery mode, in which you'll be able to watch your favorite fighter working out in a locker room or at the beach. There's really nothing more to it: you pick a babe, you stick her in the skimpiest outfit in her wardrobe, and then you pan, rotate, and zoom to your heart's content. Like the game's ring entrances and cutscenes, the gallery mode promises to be entertaining for at least 5 to 10 minutes before it gets old--that's assuming, of course, that you have a penchant for ladies composed of curvaceous collections of polygons.
Rumble Roses isn't just about eye candy, of course; it's also about the stuff that you'll need to do if you want to unlock additional eye candy. The first time you play the game, for example, you'll have access to only the nice or the naughty version of each wrestler, and to unlock the other one (complete with new outfits, naturally) you'll need to put the game's innovative vow system to work. Vows are essentially bets that you have the option to make before each exhibition match, and each vow that you honor during a successful fight will shift your wrestler's alignment toward good or bad according to which alter ego you're attempting to unlock. Typical vows include: performing a particular lethal move successfully (they can only be performed when you fill a certain gauge), not employing a weapon of any kind (to date we've found whips, knuckle dusters, and baseball bats mostly), keeping the fight inside the arena, not attacking your opponent while she is on the floor, or winning within a certain amount of time. The vows should certainly make some of the fights more interesting for a while, but they don't have a role to play if you're taking advantage of the game's hands-free CPU versus the regular CPU mode--for those who like to watch.
At the end of the day, Konami knows exactly what Rumble Roses is and exactly what audience is being targeted. If you're a hardcore wrestling fan, then it's unlikely that this game is going to change your world, but if polygonal panties and cybercleavage are things that you feel have been lacking from your previous experiences in the squared circle, this is a game you might want to keep your eye on. We'll bring you more information on Rumble Roses as soon as we get our hands on a more complete version of the game.