Review: This game may or may not actually contain a road. See store for details.
THQ has been capitalizing on a series of wrestling titles over the past couple of years. This started with the release of WCW vs. nWo: World Tour for N64. Four years after hitting stores with this title, THQ continues to thrive with a WWF license and has now expanded onto Game Boy Advance. Like the previous Game Boy Color counterparts there is no real question that wrestling fans will get a thrill from Road to Wrestlemania. However, a few players may still find the game too shallow and straightforward for their tastes. This is a shame because inside lays a title chock full of modes and options that shows true wrestling beauty...err I mean brawn.
Visually, Road to Royal Rumble hasn't truly advanced over its Game Boy Color predecessors yet. The game isn't full of the next generation graphics and animations you may desire but it still includes all the moves that make the WWF what it is.
Each wrestler may have a character model representing them to a degree but it is the pile-drivers and body-slams that gives them their character. The problem is that the small screen takes away whatever detail is present. Thankfully the 2D bodies appear large on the screen unlike many featured characters we see in GBA games today. The cheering crowd helps to draw attention away from the barely distinguishable arenas, surpassing even some of the early N64 titles. Clearly defined fans hold a wide range of signs and wear logo emblazoned T-Shirts and help to give atmosphere to the game.
The intros try to recreate the music theme songs from the WWF and even utter the words, ?Do You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking' as The Rock's takes the stage. While this works fine for the entrances the in match sound presents a small problem. The single track that plays during each match fits the game fine but once it becomes repetitive to your ears you are stuck ? there just isn't any other song. Along with the audio samples of punches, kicks, and slams, there are a couple rare times when the announcer chimes in. While it isn't full commentary things like ?Fight,' ?Rope Break,' and ?Pinfall' flash on the screen and echo from the speaker. There are also some instances where the wrestler can get his opponent into a lock and asks if they ?give up yet' as a cool sort of taunt.
The Game Boy Advance makes things tough for any fighting game to feel natural during gameplay. Road to Wrestlemania doesn't use a complex button pattern to pull off moves yet players will have trouble getting the scheme down. However, after a little practice victory may not seem so distant for those up to the challenge of mastering the control. Unfortunately, collision detection will always remain a problem. Learning how to time your attacks correctly when using the grapple system will increase the flow of things but the controls remain the serious downfall to the game. It is difficult to get past the controls in order to enjoy everything else Road to Wrestlemania has to present.
The blunders that the Road to Wrestlemania endures can be made up for in what the game has to offer in terms of modes and options. The single player game offers the widest variety of play modes. The Season mode allows players to follow the career of a selected wrestler each week in a variety of match types. Survival mode is a trial against your strength while other modes like Exhibition, King of the Ring, Iron Man, Royal Rumble, and Pay per View will inflate the replay value of this game. With tag team, cage matches, triple threat, and handicap brawls, it'll take players quite a while before victory is achieved by possessing all five belts.
Through it all, players who own a link cable and have a couple of buddies looking to enter into a four-player battle will take Road to Wrestlemania to its full extent. Just like every past version of a THQ wrestler, battling the game out with some friends ends up with hilarious results and a great deal of fun. The only thing I'm not seeing is the create-a-wrestler option, but with 24 Superstars at hand it won't make that big of a difference.