WWF Royal Rumble is a professional wrestling video game that was made specifically for arcades and released in summer 2000. The game's title is based around the WWF's yearly pay-per-view event of the same name. This was THQ's 3rd effort under the World Wrestling Federation banner since signing a 10-year contract to make WWF (which became World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002) games.
Despite being created for arcades, a console port for the Sega Dreamcast was created and released to stores in North America on August 15, 2000, a few weeks after the machines were sent out to arcades. A European version was released for the Dreamcast on September 22, 2000. A Japanese version was released for the Dreamcast on April 26, 2001. Yuke's developed both versions, though publishing rights were split. Sega published the arcade version while THQ published the Dreamcast version. The arcade version ran on the Sega NAOMI hardware. The arcade cabinet had a dual monitor design to allow up to four players to play simultaneously; two on one screen, two on another. The Dreamcast version also allowed for four simultaneous players.
WWF Royal Rumble was a ground-breaking wrestling game in terms of technical capability. Previously, wrestling games in the PlayStation/ Nintendo 64 era had been limited to only being able to allow four wrestlers on screen at once. Royal Rumble more than doubled this amount. Running on the Sega NAOMI hardware, it allows up to nine wrestlers to be on screen at the same time. While not so eye-opening for an arcade game, the Dreamcast (which contained hardware very similar to Sega NAOMI) very impressively was able to replicate the arcade's ability to allow nine wrestlers on screen at once. Royal Rumble was the first console wrestling game in the 3D era to break the barrier of having more than four wrestlers on screen at the same time.
Beyond that though, there wasn't much else to the game. At a time when console wrestling games and technology were heavily evolving to allow some of the more iconic gimmick matches of the 90s to be simulated in a video game, such as the cage match and the ladder match, many were excited to see what the Dreamcast would be capable of. However, THQ decided to make the Dreamcast version a straight port of the arcade version. Thus, it was critically panned due to its lack of game modes and small roster of WWF wrestlers compared to other games that had already been on the market for months, such as WWF WrestleMania 2000 for the Nintendo 64 and WWF SmackDown! for the Sony PlayStation.
The only two modes in the game are Exhibition and Royal Rumble. In Exhibition mode, the player chooses a wrestler to play as in a series of singles matches only. He or she is also given the option to select a partner of sorts, despite only being able to wrestle singles matches. The partner is used for selective interference at the command of the player. In singles matches, if the match is nearing the time limit, the ring will fade from the background and the wrestlers will be transferred to a backstage area, such as a kitchen, a boiler room, or a parking lot.
In Royal Rumble mode, the mode is patterned around the yearly event but is not directly replicated. Instead of merely surviving, you must be active in eliminating people. You begin the match as your selected character. You have a three-minute timer on the screen. The object is to not get eliminated or let the timer run out. An elimination requires being thrown over the top rope and hitting the floor with both feet. Eliminating wrestlers adds 20 seconds to the clock. Eliminating a wrestler with a "S" near their feet will add 40 seconds to the clock. In the arcade version, if you get eliminated or the timer runs out, you must insert a credit to continue. In the Dreamcast version, you merely press start to continue. This mode is where the small roster becomes noticeable, as you'll see a handful of wrestlers reappear later in the match. The match requires 30 wrestlers and there are only 19 or 21 wrestlers, depending on the version you are playing. Up to nine wrestlers can be in the ring at one time in this mode.
The game has both an energy meter and super meter for each character. When the energy meter is completely depleted, the match automatically ends in a knockout. When the super meter is filled, a "S" is gained. You need three S's to perform your character's finishing maneuver. You can also use a S to escape elimination from the Royal Rumble or kick out of a pinfall where you normally wouldn't be able to.
The arcade version has 19 playable characters, while the Dreamcast version has 21. Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon are the exclusive playable characters to the Dreamcast version.