Rumble Fighter Review: Hardcore Fighting Game Parading As a Casual One
By Michael Sagoe (mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
Rumble Fighter (RF) is a multiplayer online fighting game available for the PC. It has been around since 2007 and many elements of the game have changed since then. What hasn’t changed much is the deep-seated game play mechanic that hardcore fighting game fans can appreciate. While RF is portrayed as a casual fighting game that every gamer and their mother should be able to get the hang of, you can dig deeper into the gameplay and find out there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Select your character
When you first start RF and choose what character class you want to play, the strategic challenge of battles will have already begun. The four starting classes: Strikers, Soul Fighters, Elementalists and Alchemists, each of which can be played as either male or female, have different stats that appeal to different play styles. For example: Soul Fighters are extremely fast, so they’re great for players that enjoy rush-down tactics. Alchemists are very slow, but have high defense, which makes them perfect for defensive players or players that turtle a lot. The Elementalists have poor strength and defense, but can make use of exo-cores (more on this later) that have many ranged attacks. Lastly, the Strikers have high strength with well-rounded stats, so they are typical and good for beginners looking for balance in their fighting styles.
Select your fighting style
No matter what kind of martial art you’re in to, RF has you covered. With over 40 different fighting styles (called “sacred scrolls”,) RF gives players the chance to become the legendary fighter they’ve always dreamed of. The surprising thing about each sacred scroll in RF is how incredibly close they represent each fighting style in real life. Each style is animated fluidly and realistically while properties of their attacks reflect their real world counterparts. RF also has several fictional fighting styles that are homage to characters of popular fighting game series, like Koroshu style from Terry Bogard in Fatal Fury, Bushin nin-jutsu style from Guy in Street Fighter Alpha, and Agent style from Crimson Viper in Street Fighter IV.
There’s also an “exocore” system that lets you transform your fighter into a more badass version of himself/herself. Mixing and matching between fighting styles and exocores adds a big layer of strategy. For example: some sacred scrolls have weaknesses such as not being able to perform ground attacks. You can use the exocore system and give your fighter a special ground attack to make up for it.
Whether you’re a casual player or competitive brawler, game modes in RF will satisfy your needs. Battle modes let up to eight players duke it out on various stages such as rooftops, pirate ships, live volcanoes and even in outer space (with no space helmets, either.) Some stages are scattered with hazards and can be used to your advantage (or disadvantage if you’re not careful.) Rumble mode is a spin on battle mode with extra rules such as potion battle where players must drink as many potions as they can while preventing other players from drinking potions to win. RF also has boss battle mode that lets you team up with other players against NPCs opponents, arcade co-op style.
Anime flavored action.
For new players, gameplay mechanics are easy to grasp. You can punch, kick, guard, grab, counter, transform, etc. Once you get started in higher ranked play, however, RF’s true gameplay mechanics start to show. You’ll have to master techniques such as: Juggle combos, attack delays, tech throwing, I-frame attacks, guard breaking, wakeup game tactics and many others. Even more, players have developed a meta-game of new attacks and moves over the years, making RF’s gameplay even deeper.
Now I’m not much of a fan of meta-gaming, especially meta-games that end up changing the mechanics so much that it would feels as if I were playing a completely different game then it started out as (I’m looking at you, Gunz: the Duel…,) but RF’s meta-game is surprisingly balanced. Almost every new technique found in RF has a check and balance so no new tactic is unbeatable and no new strategy is invincible. If you’re not into learning how the meta-game plays out, you can make on your own through RF’s core gameplay mechanics.
For the total fighting game fanatics out there, you might notice how RF’s gameplay mechanics resembles that of Namco’s Tekken series, especially with all the juggle happy combos you can pull off. I would go as far as to say that its gameplay can feel like a watered down version of Tekken at times, but RF’s exocore system manages to keep things fresh and somewhat original.
Now if the outer elements of RF were balanced to suit both paying and non-paying players, it would have my highest recommendation. RF, however, manages to snag a few quirks that can potentially bog down the experience. Players with bad connections or playing against others over long distances can make from some laggy battles. In a game that requires timing down to each frame of animation, lag simply cannot be an issue. Unfortunately, this will never truly be fixed due to RF using peer-to-peer connections.
RF’s item shop also has exclusive scrolls, exocores, and items that can only be purchased with real money. While there are many items made available to non-paying players that can even the playing field out, cash items such as guardian sets, omni sensors, turtle shells, extra panic attacks and gem enchanting cards can put paying players at a huge advantage. Now don’t get me wrong, the player’s overall skill is still a factor for winning battles in RF, just not as much as it used to be. Now it seems that all you need is a couple of bucks and some button mashing skills and you’ll be good to go. Most non-paying players will eventually become paying players if they wish to stay on a competitive level and keep up with everyone else.
Now I know that fighting games are prone to have grumpy communities, but RF’s player base is filled with some of the most bitter and childish players I’ve ever seen. Ironically, the majority of people playing RF are kids, so finding some mature players may be rare. It’s to be expected that lots of kids would be playing RF since the game’s anime flavored style appeals to them. Fortunately, RF comes with a chat off function, which you may find yourself using from time to time.
“If you don’t have buddies to play with, the chat off button will be your new best friend.”
In conclusion, Rumble Fighter looks to be simple on the outside, but there’s a deep game waiting on the inside. While some aspects of the game might not hold the attention of hardcore fighting game fans for long, they’ll still dig and appreciate how technical the mechanics can be. For anyone that’s new to fighting games, I would recommend this game as a small introduction. That is, if they can get past the sour community and cash shop shenanigans. Despite its flaws, there’s some fun to be had with RF
– Full-on eight player battles
– Over 40 different fighting styles (and counting) to choose from
– Exocore system adds an extra layer of strategy
– Deep fighting mechanics with a moderately balanced meta-game
– Lag issues due to P2P connections
– Some cash shop items throw gameplay balance out the window
– Community is filled with immature players