Break The Hold: A history of wrestling video games. Part 2

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!

On with the rest of the list.

WCW Backstage Assault- This was the last WCW game released, and it was a bad, bad way to go out. While other games at this point began exploring the “backstage” area, that’s all this one was. No ring. You. Just beating on people backstage. Because that’s what happens right? The other thing that sucked shit about this game was that once you actually won the belt you couldn’t defend it. What a shitty game. (1 out of 10)

WWF: Smackdown! 2: Know your Role- While this game featured some vast improvements over the first in the series, it still wasn’t what I was looking for. The original Playstation just wasn’t the right platform I guess. The load times were still too long and there were some strange glitches because it was released so quickly. It was getting there though. (4 out of 10)

WWF No Mercy- This game was the pinnacle. It became the standard to which all wrestling games would be judged. At least for me anyway. It built upon what “Wrestlemania 2000” had started and done so beautifully. This game had a larger roster, more options, better everything, more arenas, more match types, more backstage areas and allowed for a lot of cool creations. College friends and I formed a league of about 15 – 20 people that would get together at least two nights a week, drink beer and eat pizza, and more importantly define a set of rules and a play structure we would all stick too. This game became that big of a part of our lives. The CAW mode was so detailed in this game it laid out a precedent of me spending upwards of two solid weeks just developing my character. The only downside of this game was that it had a few different glitches which were fixed in each later release. If you were like me and purchased it the day it came out because you had it on preorder for weeks before, then you got a copy in which the cartridge would randomly reset itself to factory settings causing you to lose all of your saves including caws, progress and options. No big deal though as you could just exchange for a debugged copy. Unfortunately in some cases that later copy would have a bug in the season mode in the very last match of one of the story lines that would prevent you from reaching 100% completion. One night after hours of binge drinking I sailed the game out of my 10th floor window. I discovered by sun up I NEEDED the game, so i went down, found it, fixed and continued to play it, when it finally gave out I bought another copy. (10 out of 10)

WWF Betrayal- I know I am going to be going against my own rule here, because this game was never released on a home console, rather it came out on the Gameboy Color. The reason it deserves mention is because it did something different. There are only two games in the wwf/wcw/wwe/ecw history that did something really different and they were this game and Crush Hour. Crush Hour was an awful idea so I am not going to talk about, but I liked this one. It was almost a tribute to Streetfighter 2010, the game that started the Streetfighter series in that it wasn’t a wrestling game at all. You played as one of four characters that was offered a shot at the title by Vinnie Mac if you rescued his kidnapped daughter. It wasn’t the best game ever, but it was the first try. I believe had development continued it would have improved. (won’t rate)

WWF: Smackdown! 3: Just Bring It- The first Smackdown game released for the PS2 probably didn’t need to be as it was nothing that was much more impressive then the second in the series. While it was the first game in the series to feature commentary by Tazz and Micheal Cole, it was so mismatched and god awful most people like myself would simply turn it off. The only saving grace for this game was the CAW system which was greatly improved, but speaking of saving, another problem with this game is that the save file would take up almost half of your memory card. I sold this game at one point, and this is the only one in the series I haven’t repurchased. This hunk of mule shit also features Fred Durst as a wrestler. Wow.(4 out of 10)

WWF Raw- To this day I am still thankful that I never purchased any wrestling game released on the XBOX. Now I’m not going to turn this into a debate over which console is better, but this game sucked. The onething that always upset me about about wrestling games since the late 90’s is that THQ would put out completely different games for the different systems rather than just port one game to all systems. While this made for a lot more games being released, it made for a lot of shit. Take in to example Smack Down: JBI, Wrestlemania X8 and this piece of shit. This game had flashy graphics, and some cool ideas as far as “create-a-modes” and attacking your opponent while they were still making their entrance, but the animations in this game were worse than anything seen in any previous game most notably the jerk walk and impact animations. Controls were pure shit, worse than anything Akklaim could have ever crapped out, and the AI could pretty much whatever it wanted at any time. (2 out of 10)

Legends of Wrestling- Here is more proof that Akklaim has some of the GREATEST ideas but the shittiest execution. The whole point of this game was that it took some of the greatest wrestlers of all time and let you pit them against one another. The main problem with it is that it was boring. Supposedly this game was created originally as another ECW game, but when they went out of business it was reworked into this. Unfortunately it just wasn’t that impressive. (4 out of 10)

WWF WrestleMania X8- Unfortunately this game is another part of THQ’s Trifecta of Turds. This game had no direction, poor graphics, a shitty CAW no storyline of any kind and a whole load of poopy. (2 out of 10)

WWE Smackdown! 4: Shut Your Mouth- For a lot of people, this was the game that turned things around for wrestling games.Since “No Mercy” Everything released got shittier and shittier, but this was what would save it all. 6+ wrestlers, awesome story lines, a 2 year career mode, the WWE show brand split, and the nWo. Combine that with one of the best CAW modes we’ve seen in years, a brand new control/grapple system and you have a damn solid game. (8 out of 10)

Legends of Wrestling 2- This game, while having a lot more wrestlers and a really bad ass “territory” system, was still plauged by the one major problem that plauged the first game. It was made by Akklaim. (4 out of 10)

Def Jam Vendetta- This game was a true surprise to me. When I first heard about it I couldn’t figure out why the hell Def Jam was making a wrestling game. Def Jam is a great label, but the connection to wrestling just wasn’t there for me. It didn’t make any sense. I started looking into it and realized right away that it was built on the “No Mercy” engine. That was the first thing that got me into it. After I played it I found I really enjoyed it. I loved how for almost no reason at all rappers would challenge each other to matches. It was silly, but cool. The other thing I liked about it was that with the WWE games, I honestly can’t imagine WWE superstars sitting down and playing the games, where as I would bet my left nut most of the rappers in this game played it on a regular basis. It lacked a few things that it really needed to compete as a wrestling game, namely a CAW mode, different match types and more playable characters. Still, it was pretty good for a new title. (6 out of 10)

WWE WrestleMania XIX- This wasn’t a bad game, it just wasn’t at all what I expected. It was closer to “Betrayal” as far as the storline went, but it just wasn’t that good. The CAW mode was better in this than the previous WrestleMania game, but the animation was still jerky, the graphics were still sub par and the roster was really limited. Its one of those games where if you didn’t know about it and never read this you would probably never know it was even in existence. (3 out of 10)

WWE Raw 2 Ruthless Agression- This game showed some signs of improvement over the first title, but still had a ton of glitches. Some of the cool things were as story mode so complex it may still be unmatched, cool create – an- entrance and the ability to edit the appearance to the real wrestlers. (5 out of 10)

Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This at Home- Crap. Just. Plain. Crap. (0 out of 10)

WWE SmackDown! 5: Here Comes the Pain- While this on a stand alone basis is a pretty solid game, probably the best one to be offered by any company on any system that year, as far as the series goes, there wasn’t much improvement. While this game fixed some of the weaknesses of the previous one, it still had a lot to be desired. It was fun to play, don’t get me wrong. It also had amazing graphics for the time, as well as a great player control system and an awesome roster. It just wasn’t the huge stride I had expected over the last game. (7 out of 10)

Showdown : Legends of Wrestling- I have to be honest. I consider myself a wrestling game fan boy, but I never heard a word about this game until I was down at my buddy’s store and saw it being put on the shelf. I took the game home and played it for three days before returning it. The roster was AWESOME. I think it might be the only game in ten years to have the Ultimate Warrior in it, and if you wanted a WCW fix, there was no other way to get it. Other than that this game was a real shitfest. I would rather watch four hours of hot naked chicks eating the shit out of the ass holes of old fat men than play this thing EVER again. In the three days I owned it it crashed 11 times and locked up completely twice. The controls were bad the movement was sluggish and it is probably the reason Akklaim is out of business.

Def Jam Vendetta II: Fight For New York- Once again EA stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park (imagine that a baseball reference in a bit about wrestling). I will say right up front, I was disappointed with the CAW mode in this game and they probably could have expanded on the story line a little more by letting you have choices that effect your fate, but aside from that, purely as a game I consider this game the true successor to “No Mercy”. Plus you get to throw Danny Trejo on a set of train tracks. (8 out of 10)

Galactic Wrestling- What’s not to love? Wrestling, cartoony graphics, M.U.S.C.L.E. Men. This game is a lot of fun. Not sure I would put it in a top ten list, but is definitely a shit load of a good time. (7 out of 10)

Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighborhood- New Jack, Vampiro, The Sandman and Zandig tried their best to save this piece of shit from being said shit piece…but they failed. You can’t play a game with no controls. This game sucked, if at all possible worse than the first. As a note on both, I am still not sure why the fuck ICP hasn’t killed themselves yet, nor do I understand how they make a career out of not having a career, but I guess as long as fat dirty white kids keep getting stoned and painting their faces, they will still sell at least one t-shirt a year. What really pisses me off though is they have no business around wrestling. Fuck off fat clown. Fuck off. (-2 out of 10)
WWE Day of Reckoning- This is I believe the first solid wrestling game released on Game Cube. It still wasn’t up to the level of some of its PS2 or XBOX cousins, but at least it wasn’t as shitty as its GC predecessors. A lot of people argue over whether or not THQ put everything into this game that they could. In my opinion, I don’t think they did. I think they put plenty in to be entertaining, but not all they could have. The truth is after as many straight turds as they dropped on the GC they probably wanted to slowly test the waters. Over all though, they brought back the “developmental” aspect of wrestling games, having to develop your wrestlers from shitty house leaguers to main eventers. (6 out of 10)

WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW- This game was a huge improvement over Here Comes the Pain, giving the player better graphics, a larger roster and slightly improved control. Though the CAW system in the Smackdown series…at least in my opinion was getting stale at this point and should have been reworked, it was still vastly superior to all of its competition. This was a decent game by anyone’s standards. Hours of game play packed into this one as well. While the storyline itself could have been expanded on more, it is still damn good. ( 7 out of 10)

Rumble Roses- No matter how badly I want to love this game, I just can’t It isn’t that good. To be honest, this game is record setting as far as polygons for graphics go giving it a highly smooth appearance, it also had a really solid control system. The downsides of this game are the fact that after about 10 minutes the gimmick of bikini clad bitches beating one another got old and there was NOTHING else to this game. Oh well. (6 out of 10, but only on its mechanics)
WWE Wrestlemania 21- What a suprise, an X-Box only WWE game that sucks horse balls. Oh wait, that’s no suprise, that’s the standard. (3 out of 10)

WWE Day of Reckoning 2- This is perhaps the best wrestling game to come out for the Game Cube. It was interesting in the fact that the storyline (which was greatly improved) picked up right where the last one left off. It had a much better CAW system, better control and better graphics. This is actually a really decent game. ( 7 out of 10)

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2006- This game saw just about every improvement it needed too. A more complex story line, the return of the create a belt/create a pay-per-view, was very exciting to me. The other new aspects to the game also helped to make it a lot more realistic. A new grapple system was added as well as a momentum bar and a stamina bar and one of my favorite new features was the General Manager mode. It was basically the “league” rules of fantasy wrestling my friends and I had been using for years. Sure it was rough and no where near as well defined as ours were, but we had been doing it for about 8 years at this point, so you can’t blame them. It was a good effort and a solid game. I STILL play this game on a weekly basis. (9 out of 10)

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007- This game didn’t feature enough new shit for me. To be honest, I have been the first kid in the neighborhood to own the latest Smackdown game the minute I could get my hands on it, but not the case with this game. After reading everything on it I could find, I decided to rent it rather than buy it, just to try it out. While I was impressed with all of the improvements to the graphics and control features, there was nothing new in this game. The GM mode was improved drastically. Though this game gave me high hopes for the next game, this one wasn’t worth buying at full price. I may pick up a used copy when it drops below $20, but who knows. (5 out of 10)

Rumble Roses XX- This game is a solid improvement over the first in the series. Still has good graphics, still has have nude chicks beating one another, still has a good fighting system. This one actually remembered to put a wrestling game into it too. My only complaint is that it was only released on X-Box 3shitty and I will never own one, so I will never own this game. (7 out of 10)
Def Jam Icon- I mention this game because it is a part of the Def Jam series, but it is NOT a wrestling game. Still pretty cool though. (No Rating)

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008- Everything I have seen, heard and read gives me hope. I am not saying this is going to be the next “No Mercy”, but rather that to save wrestling games from going the way of wrestling shows it NEEDS to be. The graphics look cool and the new player control options seem awesome but the truth is unless every aspect of the game raises the bar it just won’t have any appeal to anyone but really devoted gamers. I will keep my fingers crossed though.

Well folks, there ya have it, a history of console based wrestling games. Who knows what the future holds. With the relative stagnation of professional wrestling, who knows how much longer the appeal will even be there to continue making the games. As long as they keep making them I’ll keep buying them, but if I may, I’ll offer a few suggestions.

1) Realize that the true fanboy geeks are the ones that buy all the games no matter how shitty they are and that they spend hours, sometimes days or weeks developing a character. Then, take that knowledge and start making games so as long as the same company produces the games (I’m looking at you THQ) the player can simply transfer his character to the new game.

2) When you put a kick ass feature in a game, leave it in for the rest of the series.

3) Stop developing different games for different consoles. The WWE is the only major promotion left, use them to strong arm the consoles. Just make one game, put all your creativity into that and port it to all the systems.

Back to Part 1

One response to “Break The Hold: A history of wrestling video games. Part 2

  1. Fuck u hating on icp. There both professionaly trained m own there own company that does pretty good. N I’m not fat n white trash so sum1 k mi painted balla. Other then that. Good article.

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