The sport of Rugby is a fantastic one to not only watch but also to play. For whatever reason, though, it is not as popular as it could be in North America. Yes, there are pockets of the continent that play the game, but it may never get regular coverage on cable outside of the World Cup, such as the one being held later this month. Mat Catz has partnered with Tru Blu Games to bring Rugby Challenge to North America this October, and it is hoping that with the upcoming Rugby World Cup, gamers here will want more of this glorious sport. We recently got the chance to see just how Western friendly the game is and spend some time with it.
One of the challenges facing a nontraditional Western sport in North America is the lack of knowledge. An ex-girlfriend of mine played rugby in high school, and we watched an international match live, so my knowledge of the sport is probably greater than most. Thankfully, Rugby Challenge not only includes a brief, two-minute clip detailing the basics of the sport, but it also has a fairly deep tutorial that has users learn the various aspects of the game.
A nice touch to the tutorial is the fact that the challenges are broken up into four difficulty levels. If you want to only learn the bare essentials, you can do so in as few as five minutes. But, if you want to learn everything, it should only take the average sports gamers about 30 minutes to complete all the tasks.
Although the game does a good job of underlying the core mechanics, it doesn't really touch upon the strategic elements of the sport. The sport of rugby may seem barbaric to the uninformed, but in fact, there is quite a bit of strategy. It isn't simply tossing the ball backward and trying to score a "try." There are so many different elements that are required to win. While the game doesn't really delve into the core strategy, it still offers enough content for people to easily pick up and play. But don't expect to compete with someone online from Australia or New Zealand and hope to win.
There are two rugby games being released this year, and what separates Rugby Challenge from its competitors will be its plethora of options, which are included in various competitions and the Career mode. While it may not have the license of the actual World Cup, it does have the exclusive rights to two of the most important rugby national sides in Australia and New Zealand. Also, the game contains a large number of leagues from around the world, including England's Aviva Premiership; France's Top 14; and the Rugby 15 (now called Super Rugby), which has the best domestic teams from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
It is nice that there are so many authentic teams, though the South African clubs are not included. But even with the number of real clubs, chances are that people in this part of the world won't know much, if anything, about them. This will probably be the biggest challenge the game will face in this part of the world. There are more than 20 national sides included, but outside of the two mentioned earlier, only the USA rugby side contains the actual players from the team. To address this issue slightly, the game includes a friendly Edit mode, and moving the real players from their clubs to the national side is fairly simple.
Fans of the game and those interested in learning more about it should definitely keep an eye out on Rugby Challenge as we approach its October release date on the Xbox 360. For even more information, be sure to check out all of the Australian coverage the game has already received.