Do you remember that Wrestling game by Kojima a few years ago? Rumble Roses? I have owned the sequel for over a year now, I bought it last Christmas off the Xbox Live Marketplace, I was going through this weird phase where I was into women’s wrestling, and after finishing the then new anime Wanna Be The Strongest In The World, I was trying to absorb as much paraphernalia as I could. At first I played the game frequently, trying to unlock all the characters, get all the outfits, I read the game can take hundreds of hours to complete using the fastest methods, but back then I wasn’t concerned about that, only making authentic looking matches. My first character of choice was Reiko Hinomoto, the mascot of the series. She was always my favorite, and I was determined to make her the champion. However the game lost it’s luster quickly, because like all wrestling games, there isn’t much to do but wrestle. The game just sat in my library while I tried to keep it hidden from my dad and brother who avidly use the 360. Eventually I left for college, and left the game unused.
That is, until I came home for winter break. I was bored and my mom had now claimed the upstairs room where the Playstation is as her den after work, and because my parents got rid of my bed, they got me a replacement fold out one that we put in the downstairs room with the X-Box. The game choices weren’t too appealing, the Arkham games, Gears Of War, L.A. Noire, they all just didn’t strike me as interesting. Likewise my brother had Skylanders. That was it. Was not interested. Anyways that left me with one choice, so I opened the game, and the same familiar sub par cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Yankee Rose” began playing.
Now that I was no longer enamored with women’s wrestling, I wasn’t too invested in the game, at least until I selected Reiko. XX has no story elements unlike the first game, which is sad, because her story is sad too. Reiko’s mother was a world famous wrestler, who died during a match. A dead parent is something I relate to, so I was driven to make her the champion. I grinded with her for days, match after match, flying from turnbuckles, dropkicks, boston crabs and german suplexes galore. I won a lot, lost a few, and I was also competing for the tag title at the same time. I had humiliated my opponents in Queen’s matches, clobbered my foes in street fights, and I had made her the strongest wrestler in the roster, as well as a superstar. I was ready for the title fight.
I was excited to win the title belt, I rushed straight away into the match when the symbol glowed on the map. My jaw dropped when I saw my opponent though. Now Rumble Roses was never known for it’s great story, so allow me to try and explain this in a way that doesn’t make you arch your eyebrows. Reiko’s mother is revived with cybernetics, and becomes Lady X, without a doubt the best overall wrestler, even with Reiko’s upgrades. She was the worst to fight in the first game, and she was no doubt going to be a challenge here. If I lost, I’d have to do this all over again, days of work repeated. I wasn’t about to give up.
The match went on forever, much longer than the average three to five minutes. We had thrown each other out of and into the ring, all around the insides and outsides of it. We had both locked in submissions holds, smashed each other with weapons, and both nearly got the three count. We each were on the brink, one false move and I was going to be sent back to square one, but if I win, fame and glory. I was leaning so far forward my chair could have flipped, my heart was racing, my hands were slippery. We charged each other, and, and…
The screen flashed, she had successfully triggered her finisher. She grabbed Reiko and lifted her up in the air, as if she was going for a power bomb. But being a cyborg, she had a special flashy addition to it. Her upper body spun around before slamming Reiko to the canvas, she was out. But something was wrong. When she hit the ground I heard a snap, and she had gone limp. Her eyes had rolled into her head. She looked like Gohan from Dragon Ball Z after he was paralyzed by Recoome, at least that’s what it reminded me of. Lady X folded Reiko’s leg over her head for the three count. I was pissed, I slammed the controller in my lap, but I was also distraught. Did she just kill Reiko? When I was back on the map there was a new area I had never seen before called “Hospital.” My stomach dropped to my feet, whatever it was it couldn’t be good. I selected it, and a cutscene began playing.
Hospital staff were rushing Reiko to the ER, seeing her on the stretcher was disheartening, I thought I had really fucked up in order to get this. The camera began flashing and moving all over the place as hospital staff got her hooked up to the machines. They turned her over on her back and a surgeon stepped forward with a scalpel, he lowered it on the small of her back before the camera cut again. When the black faded, Reiko looked… different. She was in a hospital room, staring out the window as it poured outside. Her face was forlorn. Voices began to echo in the background “…never again…” “immobile…” “years…”
Holy shit, she was paralyzed. All I can remember is saying “What the fuck dude” quietly as she simply stared. A nurse came in and placed food on a tray for her, she said something, but it was garbled and I couldn’t make out what she said before she walked out. Reiko reached for the tray, but it was just too far. The only way she could get the tray was with… her legs. She started to cry, soft at first but harder as the seconds turned to minutes. It was like I was watching a sad movie, not playing Rumble Roses. I felt horrible… and then she looked at me. Her eyes were red and puffy, her brows upturned at first in sadness, then they furrowed in fury. She thrashed around in the bed before falling off with a thud, where she simply sobbed.
If I said I didn’t feel like a piece of shit, I would be a liar.
The camera then gave a simple shot of her in bed with the window as time lapsed, days turned to weeks, but she never changed from that depressing state. She was given a wheelchair and moved around the floor, occasionally getting to go outside to see the world from ground level, but it didn’t change her mood. She still barely ate, and her legs were starting to become thin from lack of use. She climbed back into bed with assistance of the nurse, and the lights went out.
What happens next, I was not ready for.
I heard rustling in the dark room, and then the sound of dragging. She had rolled out of bed, and was crawling to the door. She dragged herself through the hallway, hugging the side so to not catch the attention of the on duty nurse. She reached the stairs, and struggled up them for the next 7 floors. She fell a few times, on her way up, but she still made it up those floors. I was confused, but I was happy she soldiered through, which is something she always did. It looked as though she was returning to her normal self.
But this isn’t that story.
She reached the roof, and had to leap up to reach the door knob, but she did it anyway. She crawled forward as the wind howled, gritting her teeth. She was tired, but she had to do this. There was a fence surrounding the edges, which seemed natural, suicidal people and hospitals are fairly congruous. She hauled her limp lower half with her up to the top, but she struggled to get over the gate into infinity, a prompt came up to mash the face buttons on the controller. I was shaking my head slowly, mouthing the word no again and again. She turned and looked at me again.
“I have to.”
I tried to turn the Xbox off but the game had somehow overwritten the controller inputs, all except for the face buttons.
She simply looked at me, hurt. Her legs dangled, and her arms were shaking from having to hold them.
I did the only thing I really could do. I couldn’t simply shut off the TV, this was too real. I had to do it.
I mashed the buttons.
As the meter turned from red to blue she began edging over the fence. When it said “cleared”, she was nearly all the way. She turned and gave a weak smile, her energy gone.
She dropped. I didn’t look, but I heard the thud. When I looked back at the television, all that showed was a small shrine with her picture in the center, she was smiling, one last time.
I was crying, practically bawling. She was gone. What had I done? We were supposed to be champions, but here I am alone. The game came back to the map. I went to the locker room to change my wrestler, maybe she was still there. But her name was greyed out, and even resetting it didn’t work. I shut off the Xbox and went to sleep devastated.
After that night I never played that game again. I even uninstalled it. I have never so much as touched the Xbox again in fear that I would be reminded of that night. Every time I look in the mirror I see a monster, a murderer. I killed her, and there’s only one way to make it right…