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Reviewed by Rich DeWester
ack in 1999, "Ready 2 Rumble" first hit the shelves for the Dreamcast, PlayStation and N64, and quickly became known for its exaggerated caricature boxers, such as Afro Thunder, and the wicked damage you could unleash on your opponent’s face. The sequel came out one year later and was released on a few more consoles, adding some celebrities – such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Michael Jackson – to the list of playable characters. The games were enjoyable for their over-the-top arcade boxing style, in the same vein as the immortal “Punch-Out!!” series.
This time around, instead of being developed by Midway, the latest “Ready 2 Rumble” was developed by AKI (the same company that did “Def Jam Vendetta” and “Fight for NY”). AKI does its best to continue the over-the-top style, and even though they removed Afro Thunder and the others, “Ready 2 Rumble Revolution” does throw in a few celebrity lookalikes, such as Brad Pitt from “Snatch” and Jack Black from “School of Rock.”
Revolution" has seven modes and a ton of unlockable extras, but lacks online support. Graphically, the game is slightly above par for the Wii, and runs at a smooth 60 frames per second. Some of the character designs vary from very good to curiously bad; a few of the celebrity boxers, for instance, will leave you puzzled about who they are. (That's Shaun White, and not Carrot Top, in the helmet. Sorry if that ruins it for you.) Overall, "Revolution" does a decent enough job with its bright colors and cartoon atmosphere.
There is a pretty impressive create-a-fighter section, with a decent amount of options to help customize your character. They have the standard hair, face, beard, height and weight choice; however, they also have a decent selection of attire -- like shirts, pants, gloves, tattoos, shoes -- and options for fighting stance, all of which help make sure your boxer looks completely unique. You can also select your own nickname and even how the announcer welcomes you into the ring. A lot of the customization options are locked at the start (as you can probably guess, they’re unlocked through game play), and that's the Catch-22 at the heart of the game: due to some extremely poor motion controls, and the inability to switch them to your standard push-button controls, unless you are a very patient person, you will never be able to unlock those options.
Even during the tutorial, the game’s controls were frustratingly awful. When it asked to throw a jab to the body, it took at least two minutes before deciding that I wasn't, in fact, throwing a hook. Blocking is easy – as it deals with just pushing one of two buttons depending on which side you wish to block – but not quite as easy is dodging, where the game asks that you pull back with both controls to step backwards or push both forward to perform a duck. The game's unresponsive controls made these difficult by themselves, but even when you manage to pull off the duck, you’ll still often find yourself meeting the business end of your opponent’s fist.
The championship mode is where the heart of "Revolution" lies. You start out in training, where you do a series of minigames to help improve your character's skills. Yet again, the controls work against you here: the jump rope exercise is particularly bad, as it has you doing a series of motions with the Wiimote and nunchuck at the same time. It’s hard enough to get the game to recognize what one of those controls is doing correctly, so you can imagine the frustration of trying to get it to recognize both at the same time. Not one of these training events is particularly friendly, likely leaving you unable to improve your fighter.
When playing this, you can't help but feel bad for the people who put their effort into a game that you will never get to enjoy. Under it all, there’s a decently deep boxing game, but it’s almost impossible to reach. It almost makes you wish that the Wii gave developers the ability to patch games so new control systems could be added, but I guess they didn't care enough in the first place.