Real Talk By: KJ
Wrestling Games have been smacking-down consoles and arcades alike. There has always been an option for fans. Being a feller who watches weekly and has played many (good and bad) of the genre, it’s time to weigh-in. Before that music hits, and we walk down the ramp, here is some honorable mentions:
WWF Royal Rumble (Arcade/DC)
Fast paced fun. Another great arcade-to-home port for Dreamcast owners.
WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game (Arcade/SNES/Genesis/PC)Mortal Kombat Meets Wrestlefest.
Pro Wrestling (NES) 1986
One on One wrestling with the referee and cameraman following players during the match.
WWF Attitude (PS1/N64/DC)
This was one of the more violent grapplers at the time.
WWE Day of Reckoning (GCN)
The “Momentum Shift” was a key feature that gave players a chance to make a comeback.
Modes were limited, but the option to play through arcade with a buddy was great. Sprites still look good even for today’s standards. Fighting game fans across the board could appreciate this since key moves required extra motions to do. The cast featured interesting brawlers that looked like a mix between 80’s wrestlers and SF2 participants. Final Fight’s Mike Haggar was a playable character as well.
This game was ahead of its time in many ways. The detailed and well animated sprites added to its appeal. Wrestlefest allowed 6 wrestlers on-screen at once in the Royal Rumble mode. You could grab a friend and shoot for the Tag Team Championship held by my all time favorite group The Road Warriors. For a presentation that holds up, and fun mechanics, Wrestlefest remains a classic. Avoid the remake, it doesn’t hold a candle to this. You can believe that.
One of the things that immediately stood out in ’13, was the vastly improved collision detection. This was a criticism that players bashed developer Yukes for in the entire early 00’s. Now, diving into wrestling matches felt more realistic. This was the perfect time to relive history. Players could go through the pivotal moments of the Attitude Era. Reenacting classic spots would continue in future WWE series installments, but this felt more focused as it stayed with one timeline.
Acrobatics, Chain Wrestlers, Big Men. All three classes truly felt different. They each made a difference in All-Stars. A lack of modes (when comparing it to the other games available at the time), but still one of the more polished wrestling games. The way moves smoothly linked was impressive. A big man could punch someone in the air, while the acrobat catches the person causing even more damage. A skilled player with a chain wrestler could link move after move, making it tough to break free. Fantasy Warfare was All-Stars’ main mode. Each fight would put the Younger Generation against the Veteran Crew. Spliced promos would make it as is if both competitors were going to have a wrestling match for real. Online or off, WWE All-Stars is one of the better party games of 7th Gen.
Unfortunately Aki lost the license to work on WWE games. This may have been a blessing in disguise. So they team-up with EA, and Def Jam? That’s right. In one of the most bizarre gaming crossovers, the World of Hip Hop collided with that of the squared circle. Gameplay was great. Lots of painful moves, and a submission system that allowed players to target arms, legs, and the head. I remember DMX could choke people out viciously. You had key members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ludacris, made up characters (who were just as awesome) and one incredible soundtrack. The series would venture into a more traditional fighting game direction. Def Jam Vendetta is a more grappling-focused entry, locking in its place on the list.
In the current WWE yearly series, 2K added Universe mode to the game as a way to semi-please fans who miss the following feature. SVR 2006 introduced a full-on GM Mode. This wasn’t the first game where you called the shots, but other factors came into play. There was an importance to match booking. You not only had to gauge the most popular stars vitals/morale and decide how to properly use them. Players had to be careful not abuse the wrestler. Injuries would happen, how would you work around it? A near perfect port came to the PSP. I spend many trips on the go managing my roster, long as the battery charge lasted.
You have the option to land an elbow drop off a Helicopter. That should be all you need right there. Here comes the pain introduced weight detection. So Rey Mysterio couldn’t bench press Big Show like a toy. Damage displays showed the condition of all competitors, this naturally added more strategy to the game. One of my favorite match types The Elimination Chamber would debut. Oh man, did it ever deliver.
Unfortunately playing WCW Thunder and Nitro before Revenge, my tolerance was at an all-time low. Thankfully, I was finally able to play the Absolute best in WCW. Revenge had great gameplay, and a roster that was certainly stacked. This had a combo system implemented, that made brawling more exciting. It was also popular for vastly increasing its move lists. Compete in tournaments for 5 different belts, in a game that’s still Too Sweet! The only other company to truly give WWE some competition, would receive a game that did it too.
Not only does Fire Pro have some of the deepest customization in any game, the fight variations really made it special. Electrified cage matches? Yes please. Gimmicks galore! Players could take part in MMA contests. Have pro wrestlers take on MMA fighters in the cage, and vice-versa. It felt like two games in one. Though this wasn’t a game that tied into any real promotion. However, depending on the players talents they could absolutely Fire Pro Returns whatever branding they wished. WWE, ECW, WCW, whatever. Not only did you receive the tools to do so, the templates available made it so you could do it right. I cannot stress enough how much content is here. Not sure about that hot mess on the Xbox 360 carrying the fire pro name. Disregard that one, and please download Returns in the PSN Store today.
The Greatest Wrestling game to date. Customization made this a big part. No Mercy remains fresh because of it. Attitude Era wrestlers had their famous moves (and taunts), but you could alter things. Fans could edit almost the entire game. Make the roster look as awesome, or silly as you wanted. Who remembers bar room fighting with the APA? Ten backstage brawl spots in total. The overall weapon choices were fantastic. More specialties included The Special Guest Referee mode. I would abuse the three count, and frustrate my friends.
Challenge for 7 different belts. Each journey has a separate campaign, with branching paths, and hilarious dialogue. Take on 100 men in a gauntlet mode if you dare. Pain and simple, the options for fun were plenteous.
Smackdown Mall lets you spend points unlocking satisfying content. Get more weapons, characters, costumes, and Arenas. All This stuff today would cost you an extra 40 dollars at-least in downloadable content! Players still update the rosters through mods, no one wants to let this go. No Mercy had the content. A fantastic mix of realism and arcade magic that has yet to be toppled.
There you have it. Check out these wrestling gems asap Brother! O-Yeeyah!