Hey, everyone, i haven't done an old school game review journal in a long while, so i'd like to do one right now... on some wrestling games, basically the WWE type... or WWF, as it was once called before the name change for Vince McMahon's wrestling company in Stamford and all that. Anyway, i'll talk about my thoughts on some of the WWF games i've played in the past, in which i did owned a few (one on NES, another on Game Boy, one on Playstation) and rented a couple of those on NES and Super NES.
First off, WWF Wrestlemania. The first wrestling game (published by Acclaim, but developed by Rare) that i had bought back in 1989, when i had my NES with me. For this one, i did bought it at a mall in Montreal (can't remember which one it was though) and at that time, i was hooked on the WWF at that time... although the game itself did only had six wrestlers in there, meaning Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, André The Giant, "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, Bam Bam Bigelow and the Honky Tonk Man, each with a specific music theme in mind, representing them in the process. And there was only two modes of play on that one: Exhibition and Tournament Mode. Each wrestler had a specific power item that can make them gain some health (i.e.: Hulk Hogan has the cross, Macho Man has shades, Honky Tonk Man had a guitar, etc)... though the controls of the game were quite clunky and pinning combos were tough to do. Plus, the background of the game, even though it is in 8-Bit format, wasn't quite the best, with just a black background, with no crowd or anything like that. Simply put, this game wasn't quite the best, though at that time, i was too dumb to care about that.
Next up, WWF Wrestlemania Challenge (published by LJN, but again developed by Rare). That one did featured nine wrestlers in it, a bit more than the last, meaning Hulk Hogan, André The Giant, "Macho King" Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, The Big Boss Man, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Ravishing Rick Rude, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and finally, a generic wrestler simply called "Yourself". The modes of this game comprised of a simple one-on-one match, a tag team match, a three-on-three Survivor Series elimination match and a championship mode. The game itself was mostly shown in an isometric view (a bit of how i would also see that sort of thing years later in Super Mario RPG), though once again, the controls weren't the best. Sure, each wrestler, like the last game, had a specific music that would play when you played against each other or the CPU in the ring, but there wasn't much of anything interesting in that one.
Next up, WWF Superstars on Game Boy (published by LJN and again developed by Rare). The game only featured five superstars, a bit of a downgrade from some of the WWF games i've played thus far, meaning Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase and Mr. Perfect. And ironically enough to say, when you select your wrestler and face-off against your opponent, the wrestlers do cut a promo on each other and Vince McMahon comments on the action that follows before and after the match, i do believe. Again, the controls are quite simply clunky and moves are too basic and generic, meaning punching, kicking, bodyslamming, suplexes and all the whatnot. Nintendo Power gave that game a 2.9 out of 5 in their April 1991 issue... and i can see why, seeing that the game itself was kinda, to quote Oli Davis in his WrestleTalk TV Youtube channel: AvRAWge.
Next up are some of the Super NES WWF games i've played in the past, meaning WWF RAW, WWF Super Wrestlemania and WWF Royal Rumble. The graphics are slightly much better, for a 16-Bit console, but the background for all three are pretty much the same, although now, there is a crowd in the background for all three. And of course, the moves are all the same for most of the wrestlers that are in these games, though they did kinda add some variety of finishing moves for each wrestler. And luckily, the rosters of WWF/WWE Superstars were not the same, though some did appeared in more than one game. Superstars like Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, the Legion of Doom, Mr. Perfect, Lex Luger, Yokozuna and more were seen in those. Hulk Hogan was nowhere to be seen in neither of those. The controls were quite okay, though they're nothing more than pure button mashers, in trying to do a grappling hook and all that. And it's all about having enough strength and patience in doing these moves against your opponent. Anyway, they were not that great, but not too terrible in my book.
I did also played with WWF War Zone on the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation (published by Acclaim), as well as WWF Attitude, in which we moved to the 3D era of video gaming and in which the action was much more realistic... or at least tried to do so. Superstars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Ken Shamrock, Farrooq, The Rock, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, the British Bulldog, Owen Hart (which one of them was a tribute to him, after he died in 1999, during a pay-per-view accident that costed him his life), Mick Foley's three personas (Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack) and more were featured in there and voice commentary by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross were added, to make it feel like you're watching an actual WWF show. New features included a Create-A-Wrestler mode, allowing us to create our own wrestlers and there were the standard modes of singles match and tag team, as well as hardcore, cage, tornado and battle royal. Kinda like a Royal Rumble sort of match, if you will, but with all wrestlers at the same time when the match begins. Nevertheless, this one was qite fun... but not that fun, if you ask me. Sure, there were some cutscenes with the actual wrestlers cutting their own promos and all that, but... still, not very fun to go with for me. At least the controls were alright, though again, it's mostly about doing some button mashing in trying to do a grappling hook or any other kinds of wrestling moves, so to speak.
Next up, a WWF game i still own on my Playstation, but don't play much with anymore: WWF Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role. Now published by THQ and developed by Yuke's, this one is simply based on the WWE show aptly named after one of the famous words that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson always said in his promos, meaning Smackdown. And like WWF Attitude, it featured a Create-A-Superstar mode, although this one was more advanced than the previous game i told you about, meaning that you can assign movesets, taunts, stables and more. Even a Create-A-Manager feature was added to it, meaning that you can assign a manager to the created superstar, such as Paul Bearer and Tori. More superstars were in this one and some would have to be unlocked, such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. It was also the first game in which future WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angel would appear in, as well as Chris Benoit (though i don't know why i'm mentioning his name, due to the shocking situation that he caused in his real life family, leading to his death and all that). Storylines and matches per shows were added, although the first game had some pre-season mode in there, but that was removed for who knows what reason. The changes had mixed reactions by fans and critics alike. Loading times were also a problem to the game, as they were a bit long to load in getting to the most insignificant scenes, like a wrestler walking backstage, for instance. Regardless, the game was quite alright and i did managed to create some characters of my own in that game. Yeah, even the one to which i would eventually made her the mentor of the DX Divas, Heather Solomon, was added to the game, by my creation, in making her just as rough as Steve Austin himself. Same to the one that i would reboot her as being a villainess in the Dark Genesis, meaning Sofia Baker too. Heh, man, that was really something for me to do back then.
I even played a few WCW games on Playstation, meaning WCW/nWo Thunder, based on the then-existing wrestling organization's show of the same name, though while it featured superstars from World Championship Wrestling and its villainous stable counterpart, the New World Order, as well as some unlockable ones that either made to little to no sense whatsoever, the game itself was unappealing to me. Even the voices of announcers Tony Schiavone and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (may god bless his soul) were not fun for me to enjoy that one.
Also, i even played a few Gamecube WWF games, renamed WWE afterwards, such as WWE WrestleMania X8, WWE WrestleMania XIX and the two WWE Day of Reckoning games. And all had some interesting features in there, though they were all the same to me, as far as that's concerned... although WrestleMania XIX did had an interesting story mode, that the game called Revenge Mode, in which you select any superstar on the WWE roster, whether they'd be from RAW or Smackdown or even your created wrestler, with the exception of Vince and Stephanie McMahon, and that superstar was being tossed on the street by Vince's security, only to be meeting up with Stephanie in her office, as she noticed that the player wants revenge on Mr. McMahon, in terms of ruining his flagship pay-per-view show: WrestleMania (aka The Grandest Stage Of Them All). In order to do so, the player is send to various locations and have to destroy WWE property, such as blowing up an under construction skyscraper, crashing a WWE varge, wrecking the cars in a WWE parking lot and lots more. I kinda did that as my created character Heather Solomon yet again and managed to have her take down Vince McMahon. I recorded that on my VHS tape long ago. Anyway, i used to own that particular game, as well as the two Day of Reckoning games, until i got bored with those. But WrestleMania XIX was quite an okay game to me. Quite an improvement over some other wrestling games, so to speak, but not by that much.
Finally, one WWE game i did played on my Game Boy Color was still a WWF game, but that one was mostly different than the rest of them: WWF Betrayal. That one was based on an old storyline from 1999, in which Stephanie McMahon gets kidnapped and Vince McMahon is counting on one of four selectable WWE superstars (meaning Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker and Triple H) to rescue her from whoever kidnapped her, to which a title shot would be granted if he rescues his daughter. Basically, this game operated in the same way as a beat-em up-type of game, a la Double Dragon, although that one totally sucked like crap. Beating up on grunts of any kind, and then facing the other superstars that you have not selected is not exactly my idea of a wrestling game there, if you ask me.
Anyway, i know i've played a few more, but afterwards, i kinda gave up on playing wrestling games, as they were all the same to me, regardless of the added modes and everything else in there. One that i did played, but that is not a WWF game was Nintendo's Pro Wrestling game on NES. That one was quite decent, especially with the mention of the victor of the match once you defeated your opponent, in saying "A Winner Is You". At least, that one does simulate what pro wrestling should feel like, compared to the WWF/WWE wrestling games.
I'm also aware that Capcom made a wrestling game of their own, called Saturday Night Slam Masters, which features Mike Haggar from Final Fight, but i've not played that one at all. If i did, i'd tell you how good or bad that game was, even though i did saw that one in my then-local arcade area.
Well, that's all i have to say concerning the wrestling games. Glad i got that out of my system, so to speak.
-Eric B. (Shnoogums)