Ready 2 Rumble Revolution First Impressions

Aki and Atari are working on a new Rumble for the Wii, and we got our mitts around it for a play at Atari Live.

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During Phil Harrison's keynote presentation at the Atari Live showcase in central London, he revealed that the publisher--together with AKI Corporation--would be bringing back the classic Ready 2 Rumble boxing franchise. Ready 2 Rumble Revolution is heading exclusively to the Nintendo Wii with the same irreverent take on boxing that you'd expect from the series, and we got hands on with the game to find out if it's fit to fight.

Hit your opponent out of the ring with a rumble KO.
Hit your opponent out of the ring with a rumble KO.

In the spirit of the series, Revolution has some crazy playable celebrity caricatures, including Dewie Stuedel, a portly American complete with spare tyre; Kaiser Kong, a blond Arnie-esque figure sporting lederhosen; a Shaun White-style extreme sports character complete with crash helmet; and Syphon Cruel, who looks uncannily like Idol's Simon Cowell. Each character has different skills across three main areas: strength, speed, and defence. In addition to being able to play as the 20-odd included characters, you'll be able to create a custom boxer from scratch, building experience and unlocking customisable body parts as you progress through the game's career mode. We saw only one stage in our time with the game, the Las Vegas-inspired outdoor Sky Wars Arena, but you can expect a range of other real-world-inspired arenas in the final version, including Winner's Garden (think Madison Square Garden).

In addition to the single-player career, the game includes quick exhibition matches, an eight-round arcade mode, training, tournaments, and minigames. We saw a few of these demoed, including Hit the Mitt. This training game requires you to string combos together by following the onscreen prompts, such as throwing a right, left, right, and body blow in quick succession. Another minigame, Jump Rope, has you flicking both remotes in a variety of directions at the correct time to keep your boxer skipping rather than tripping.

The controls are pretty easy to pick up: Z blocks, C is used as a low modifier (turning the default face attack into a body shot), A activates your special rumble meter, and the analog stick moves your character. Thrusting either the Wii Remote or Nunchuk forward results in a left or right jab, depending on which hand you're holding the controller in. Uppercuts are performed by flicking either controller upwards, and hooks can be done by flicking inwards. You can also bob and weave by flicking both controllers in the appropriate direction. It took us only a few moments to get the hang of it, but like with many Wii games, it may take a while to get used to the sensitivity of the controllers and to master the controls. Revolution doesn't take advantage of the z-axis. All of the moves are activated by the controllers' built-in accelerometers, which felt natural. We were told there are currently no plans to incorporate Classic Controller or GameCube controller support, but the developers are aware that some fans may prefer the traditional options, and they may still be incorporated into the game.

One of the most satisfying moves in the game is performing a rumble KO. Once you've built your rumble meter up one letter at a time (that is, R-U-M-B-L-E) by performing some combos, you can attempt a KO. If you manage to connect with your punches, and your opponent's health is around 30 percent or less, you'll unleash a barrage of punches to devastating effect. Each character has a specific rumble attack that can blow your opponent straight out of the ring and sometimes even out of the stadium in the process. Sure it's not realistic, but it's pretty funny and satisfying to pull off and certainly got a few laughs.

"I will break you." Oh wait, wrong boxing franchise.

Ready 2 Rumble Revolution looks like it will be a load of fun when it hits North America in March 2009. The UK release date is still being finalised, but we don't expect it to be too far behind from what Atari has told us. Stay tuned for more on the game as it approaches release.

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