Format reviewed: Dreamcast
The Royal Rumble is always one of the most exciting events in the wrestling calendar – you’re pretty much guaranteed surprise returns, unexpected confrontations and lots of individual moments of drama as 30 men compete for a title shot at Wrestlemania. With that in mind, it makes the perfect event to base a game around, and Sega teamed up with Yuke’s to do just that in 2000, releasing WWF Royal Rumble in arcades to some success. The developer had just cut its teeth on WWF Smackdown for the PlayStation, and Royal Rumble was similarly good but characterised by a higher level of action – run-in attacks were frequent, up to 9 wrestlers could be in the ring at any time, and transitions to backstage areas happened instantly.
What happened next was very unfortunate. THQ, which had the licence to publish WWF games on home consoles at the time, published a Dreamcast version of the arcade game – and nothing about it changed. In the arcades, the game’s quirks made sense. For a start, matches had strict time limits, which weren’t in competing games on the N64 and PlayStation. Though its roster was packed with stars and future stars including The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Edge, it offer a paltry 21 wrestlers and only two gameplay modes – a huge letdown compared to what the other games were offering. In fact, the only concessions to the home audience were an options menu and the ability to unlock final bosses Vince and Shane McMahon.
The arcade game provided a solid foundation for a home console game, and was still enjoyable to play. However, that nothing was built on that foundation was a real shame as it could have been so much better.