Break The Hold: A history of wrestling video games. Part 1

As most of you know by now, there a couple things in life I really enjoy. Drinking, playing video games, listening to music and reading comic books pretty much top out the list. Well today we are going to talk about two of those things (three if you figure I am probably drunk or drinking while playing) wrestling video games.

Although There were some awesome games released as arcade games such as “WWF Superstars” and “WWF Wrestlefest” which you should really check out, I am going to be limiting my list to only those games that were available for home consoles. As always, emulators and roms are fine to try something out, but if you really want to have fun play it on deck, in a console they way it was meant to be. A diamond upside down is a pussy!

Pro Wrestling– The first wrestling game released for NES in the U.S., It had a decent amount of wrestlers and moves, a full ring, a crowd a ref and enough “Engrish” for you to laugh at for days on end, or if you’re really pathetic, make a flash video too and start an entire internet phenomenon. All your wrestling games are belong to us! (4 out of 10)
Tag Team Wrestling– This game was actually pretty lame. I mean yes it was a wrestling game, yes it allowed tag team play, but the graphics were shitty,the game play sucked and there were only two tag teams, the Ricky Fighters, and the Strong Bads. Yes, you saw that correct. I WILL BURNINATE YOU! (2 out of 10)

Tecmo World Wrestling– Perhaps one of the most advanced games, not just wrestling games, but games in general of its time, this game featured ten different characters to choose from and something like 15 to 20 moves per character. The graphics and animation were pretty sweet as well and I believe it was the first wrestling game to feature an announcer. I played this game again about a week ago and still had a great time. As usual Tecmo kicked ass with this one. (10 out of 10)

WWF WrestleMania– I believe this was the first wrestling game I ever owned. To tell the trut, it really doesn’t have a lot going for it. There were only six wrestlers, and they all had exactly the same moves. It is amusing to play, but purely for nostalgia’s sake. The only major advancement this game brought to the table was that it was the first wrestling to to feature actual pro wrestlers. (3 out of 10)

WWF Super WrestleMania– This game is essentially the same as its predecessor with better graphics, and was available for the 16 bit systems. That brings us to the age old question the sparked many a punch in the face between some of my friends. SuperNintendo, or Genesis ? The truth is, there is no right answer, you should have both and no where is that more true then in the case of Super Wrestlemania. Both versions featured a roster of wrestlers that shared the exact same base move sets, much like “Wrestlemania”, but while the Genesis featured signature “finishing” moves and a roster of 8 superstars, the SNES version had no finishers, but had a roster of ten superstars. The rosters themselves were also different;SNES Version had, Hawk and Animal, Earthquake, Hulk Hogan, Jake the Snake, The Macho Man, Sid Justice, The Million Dollar Man, Typhoon and the Undertaker; and the Genesis Version had Davey Boy (British Bulldog) Smith, Hulk Hogan, Irwin R. Schyster, The Macho Man, The Heartbreak Kid, The Million Dollar Man, The Ultimate Warrior, and my favorite to play…Papa Shango. If you had both games on both systems, you were the cool kid in town. Especially if there was only one other kid in your town. (5 out of 10 average for both games)

WWF Royal Rumble– This is the game that started to bring WWF licensed games into the spotlight. Like the previous game there were some slight differences with the Sega and Nintendo versions, but they were mostly with the rosters. The graphics and player control were seriously improved for this outing, as well as being the first wrestling game to feature six characters in the ring at the same time in either a triple threat tag team or Royal Rumble match. The only downfall that it had or that any wrestling game up to that point had was that it didn’t feature Outback Jack, who was one of my favorite wrestlers as a kid, and since it was 1993 at this point, I didn’t see the OBJ making it into a game any time soon. (9 out of 10)

Saturday Night Slam Masters- This game came out once again for both platforms, and was part of a trilogy, but the other two were arcade only, so we will only talk about this one. The game it self is nothing that amazing. It was made by Capcom and is pretty much a recoded version of Street Fighter 2. I mean it looks exactly the same. The biggest differences are the character sprites, and the fact that more emphasis is put on grappling. So basically SF2 with a bunch of Zangief and Blanka clones. (2 out of 10)

WCW Superbrawl Wrestling- The only thing special about this game is that it marks the first entry by the WCW. I loved the WCW just as I loved all pro wrestling. It offered some awesome shit that the WWF was lacking, not that I would ever miss an episode of either one. You see what I did there? This particular game was so shitty I tried to avoid talking about it. What’s that? You want me to go into detail? Fuck. Alright. To signify what would be a pretty strong trend with a few rare exceptions, this WCW game was a steaming pile of ass juice. The graphics were bad, the move sets were lacking and the Roster was pretty fucking weak. In all honesty, if I didn’t think it would one day gather collector’s value since the wrestlers on its roster are slowly dying out, I would recommend “accidentally” stepping on it and crushing rather than playing it. Or maybe if you run out of Charmin you can use it as a shit wipe. Suck it down. (1 out of 10)

WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage Challenge- I have played this game so you don’t have to, and you really probably shouldn’t It isn’t the worst wrestling game I have ever played…but its close. (2 out of 10)

WWF Raw- Though this game was available on Genesis, SNES, Gameboy, Game Gear, and Genesis 32x, and all the versions differ slightly, the only one you really need is the 32x version. It has all most all of the features of all the other versions. As far as the game goes, it was a pretty decent entry. I still prefer the graphics of “Royal Rumble” more, but this wasn’t bad. Also, this game had one element that would rank it a 10 even if it were worse than Superbrawl, Doink…The…Clown. (7 out of 10)

WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game- I have been waiting throughout this entire article to talk about this game. As a pure wrestling game, this one is a little out there. As a strange version of wrestling that is just plain fun, this game rocks. At this point Midway had the WWF license and had already had a great deal of success with its Mortal Kombat line. This game has all of the best MK features without actually being a cheesy MK ripoff (unlike SNSM to SF2 see above). It was a bit more fast paced and featured more kicking and punching than other wrestling games, but wasn’t a straight out fighter with added grappling like SNSM. What it did have, and this is where the controversy around this game comes from, is over the top fighting moves. The Undertaker shot purple balls of magic, HBK had a bat, Doink had his hammer, and so on. While adding weapons is always a plus and I liked the fact that it was something different a lot of people didn’t care for it. Another thing this game had going for it was MK’S style of digitized photo graphics. It made it really stand out in an era of otherwise cartoon like games. (7 out of 10)

Super Fire Pro Wrestling X: Premium- This…Game…Rules…Ass. If you consider yourself a fan of wrestling games, this is one you have to play. While it is the last installment of a long line of Super Fire Pro Wrestling games, it was the only one to be released in the states, so it is the only one I will mention. How can I possibly begin to describe how great and ahead of it’s time this game was? O.k., think of it this way, Mario 3, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario World, and Killer Instinct for as far ahead of their times as they were, roll them all together into a big ball, sprinkle on the hands down best graphics of its era and bake at 450 until bone crunching. That is SFPWX. It is simply beautiful. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it would stand up against the games that are going to be available for the newest generation of systems, but it could definitely still stand up in the PS2/XBOX/Dreamcast era. Really, Its that good. (10 out of 10)

WWF: In Your House- O.k., so, Midway still held the license on WWE games and offered this as a follow up to WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game. This time around it wasn’t so cute. It was pretty much trying to tap a dry well. No real upgrades. Same crappy “magic” just kind of lame. (3 out of 10)

Power Move Pro Wrestling- I am going to be willing to bet most of you have never heard of this game, and even less of you have played it. Under normal circumstances this game would not have even gotten a mention because to be truthful, it is nothing more than a New Japan Pro Wrestling game that was redone for release in America and the 12 NJPW wrestlers were replaced with fictional characters. So why did it make the list? Play it. If you are familiar enough with wrestling games to even be reading this list with out bursting into flames then you will recognize it is the game engine that would soon revolutionize the wrestling game world…Smackdown! Also, it is kind of fun. (6 out of 10)

WCW Vs. The World- Asmik Ace Entertainment formed in 1997 after a merger of two Japanese firms, no one new it yet, but this was the second part of an equation that would upset the wrestling game world. WCW Vs. The World isn’t the best wrestling game ever, hell it wasn’t even very good. It was hard to play, it was “sticky” in how it moved, it took what seemed like hours to load and for those of us still used to our 16 bit games, it was confusing as hell. What it was, was the first game to look 3d, it had 52 different wrestlers to choose from, each wrestler had their own unique set of moves and for the first time in wrestling games you had to think. You actually had to learn button combos to get different effects rather than just mashing the controller. The wind of change was picking up. (4 out of 10)

WCW vs. nWo: World Tour- Three things came together in 1997 that would forever change my view of wrestling games. 1) The previous September Nintendo released what is still one of my favorite systems the N64. 2) The nWo had taken over WCW and completely revitalized the pro wrestling world. Suddenly it wasn’t just for socially awkward teenagers who sat around in their mom’s basement with their friends almost every night watching wrestling, or wrestling videos, or recap shows about wrestling, or bootlegs of live events. Suddenly it was cool. 3) WCW VS. nWo World Tour was released. Though it wasn’t fully refined yet, and most of the characters in the game were made up, this game was like nothing else before it. It was fully 3D, the characters actually resembled the real life people they were an avatar for and the grapple system was mind boggling. Though still very rough around the edges, this was the punk kid that would soon grow up and kick everyone in the ass. (6 out of 10)

WCW Nitro- Unfortunately with this release the WCW brand took a step back, but that’s o.k. cause I didn’t buy it when it came out. Sadly though it could have potentially taken all of the wind out of the sails of the wrestling game market just as it was starting to move along. The game had a small roster, and while it did allow the player to pick different arenas to wrestle in, it really didn’t offer much else. (3 out of 10)

WWF War Zone- My heart is torn with this game. While it is the first 3d WWF game, it was nearly impossible to control. While it did add the “momentum” meter which would soon be in all games, the graphics were hideous but perhaps the thing that was most important was that it was the fourth part of the “ultimate equation” in that it introduced CAW or create a wrestler. While the CAW mode wasn’t anything at all special compared even to the wrestling games that came out around the same time, it was something that you could never do before. You could put yourself in the games. Can you feel it? The change is coming. (4 out of 10)

WCW/nWo Thunder- God, this is another game which pulls at me. On one hand it introduced all kinds of new match types in games, it let you pick what stable you wrestled for, it included Nitro girls and other special characters and it had a shitload of arenas. The truth is though all they did was put Nitro in a new suit. They didn’t actually add anything substantial, which unfortunately would become the trend in a few short years. (3 out of 10)

WCW/nWo Revenge- Here is another part of the equation, we are getting closer. The game featured a CAW mode, entrances, a huge roster, selectable arenas, valet, and most importantly a championship mode. The player would select a belt then have to wrestle through all of his competition for a shot at the champ and a chance to wear the gold. The graphics were greatly tuned up as was the taunting system. Definitely a solid game. (6 out of 10)

WWF Attitude- I wish some one would have just smacked Akklaim around in the late 90s. When it comes right down to it, Akklaim was responsible for some of the greatest ideas in the wrestling game world, they just executed them poorly and made shitty shitty video games. This game brought us create a stable, create a pay per view (both would become wrestling game standards), create an arena which was bad ass, and for the first time, full entrances with music and voice overs. This game also gave us career mode. It was a huge advancement on Revenge in the fact that you started of wrestling house shows and had to work your way up from the bottom and it had blood. On the other hand, the game’s graphics were still sub par and player control still sucked. This would be Akklaim’s last WWF game. (5 out of 10)

WWF Smackdown- To be honest I wasn’t really that impressed with the early Smackdown games. They had some cool elements and they added a quick, much faster arcade style that was badly needed, other than that, I decided to give em a few years. (3 out of 10)

ECW Hardcore Revolution- I don’t know why. This game was shit. I have a theory, The original ECW was pretty much dead at this point as was Akklaim’s rep as a company that made solid wrestling games. I have always held a special place…in my heart (not my wang) for the E! C! DUB! E! C! DUB! E! C! DUB! E! C! DUB! but alas this game sucked right out loud. (0 out of 10)

WCW Mayhem- This game for me was the epitome of disappointment at the time of its release. All of the hype made it seem like it would finally have all of the parts of the equation down, like it would be the greatest wrestling game ever, but in reality it was shit. Sure, it added the elements of a backstage area and fully integrated commentary that would soon become standards, but that was about it. Every WCW broadcast leading up to its release had that counter that counted down the days until I could buy it that gave me an erection all just to end up with blue balls. Fuck you Mayhem. Fuck you. (2 out of 10)

WWF WrestleMania 2000- So you say you want a revolution? Ladies and gents, boys and girls this is it. This is the first game to bring all the elements together and execute them in the most beautiful way we had seen up to this point. It was built on the engine established by WCW nWo Revenge it had a HUGE roster, plus the most in depth complex CAWs ever. Combine that with the ability to select all your moves and you have the reason that my friends and I would skip school 1 to 3 times a week just to play it. We would take turns spending literally 45 to 50 hours building our characters, their looks, costumes, moves, taunts and abilities. We would for our own stables, set up fantasy leagues and live in our own world I thought it was the pinnacle of wrestling games. I was wrong. You’ll see. (9 out of 10)

ECW Anarchy Rulz- If at all possible even worse than the first. If you took the most disgusting, maggot ridden human shit, grabbed a big handful of it and ate a few big bites, the threw up in a bowl, ate it, the shit it into a hat, wore the hat out sid, had your left eye eaten by a raven and your testicles smashed with a hammer it would be less awful than playing this game. (less than 0 out of 10)

On to Part 2

One response to “Break The Hold: A history of wrestling video games. Part 1

  1. dont everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! put hey stupid because kids are goining to start sayining it to other people and thoses people mite have DIsABILATES. plus they mite get mad.

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