When the original Ready 2 Rumble Boxing debuted on the Dreamcast in 1999, it was something different. The basic aspects of a boxing game were all in place (the dodging, weaving, blocking, jabbing, and so on), but it was the fun element, layered over the top, that garnered the most attention and praise. Reminiscent of Nintendo’s classic Punch Out, it was full of colourful characters, and was a game you could just pick up and play.
Ready 2 Rumble‘s success on the Dreamcast and other formats led to a decent sequel just a year later, but it’s taken nine years for a third instalment to come out. Following the current trend for not giving sequels numbers at the end of their titles, it’s called Ready 2 Rumble: Revolution. With a name like that, you’d expect some significant changes to have been made and, indeed, things are very different for this particular round of pugilism.
For a start, the development of the game now falls under the stewardship of AKI, rather than Midway, which is currently suffering severe financial difficulties. Rather than taking Midway’s work and building on it, though, AKI has chosen to completely reinvent the series, which we guess is the reason for the title.
That means all new characters, so if you’re a fan of the old ones, then tough luck, because they’re all gone. Instead, you get to take your pick from a selection of badly designed clones of mainstream entertainment celebrities. For instance, there’s Hilarious D, a Jack Black clone in school uniform. Then there’s Fight Clubber, a Brad Pitt look-alike – not as he is in Fight Club, though, but rather in his Snatch boxing pikey guise. Add to the list Fever Friction (John Travolta), Syphon Cruel (er… Simon Cowell), Marcus D Roxbury (Will Ferrell), as well as a few other familiar faces, and it’s clear the development team behind this game are blessed with precisely no imagination at all.
The key difference, however, between Revolution and the previous Ready 2 Rumble games, is that it’s bloody awful. Putting aside the graphics and animation, which actually seem to be worse than the original, the controls are little more than an exercise in wishful thinking. Using the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk, you swing your arms to perform punches, much like the boxing game in Wii Sports. A jab, for example, is achieved by just moving an arm forward – logical and mostly easy to achieve. However, trying to get the game to register a hook as anything other than a jab is extremely difficult. Also, to perform haymakers, you have to move your arm out to the side before performing your move of choice (jab, hook or uppercut).
After a frustrating session in the tutorial, you might eventually feel you’ve got the hang of it, but take your ‘skills’ into the game proper, and you quickly notice how much the controls are lacking. Your boxer rarely does the kind of punch you want, and haymakers leave you horribly exposed. Playing against the computer, your opponent will rack up his Rumble bar (for those not familiar with the series, this is special move meter that you fill by doing damage to your opponents and by taunting them) in about ten seconds, before proceeding to quite happily beat the shit out of you.
In between beatings, there’s also the chance to play training mini-games, where you can continue to wave your arms about for no apparently meaningful reason. Again, the implementation of the waggle controls is pitiful at best, and you’ll long to use your GameCube or Classic controller. However, AKI, in its infinite wisdom, chose not to include any such options, so you’re stuck with gesticulating like a drug-addled traffic controller.
If the option for regular controls had been included, it probably would have saved Ready 2 Rumble: Revolution. It still would have been a mediocre effort, but that’s surely better than what it is now. Rather than being the old champ that comes back from retirement to land one final victory, this is more like the boxer that goes one fight too far and ends up eating chicken through a straw.