WWE’s biggest pay-per-view event, Wrestlemania, is this Sunday. So like I did with the Super Bowl, here’s a wrestling game.
I have played wrestling games, WCW and WWF/E, across multiple systems. NES, SNES, PlayStation, N64, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Game Boy. They’re all the same, or at least all where you’re supposed to be wrestling. You get some exceptions like Wrestlemania Arcade which are exceptional, but I’ll look at that one next year maybe around this time. Right now I’ll do a “if you’ve played one you’ve played them all” review focusing on WCW: The Main Event.
For those not in the know, WCW (pronounced “dubbya-see-dubbya”) stands for World Championship Wrestling and it was WWF/E’s biggest nemesis in the 1990s. WCW was backed by Ted Turner who was siphoning profits from his other projects to support what I’d best describe as a company full of government workers- overpaid, unfireable, and often rewarded for bad behavior because of poor oversight. Anywho, the 1980s and early 90s WWF ended up effectively being the talent developing arm of the WCW. 80s stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage signed up, while folks like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall who were bounced out of WCW ended up finding their footing in WWF and then returning to WCW after achieving popularity- not as a conspiracy on anyone’s part, it’s just that WCW started writing checks they couldn’t cash once they ran out of Ted Turner’s money (Turner’s company merged with another, and the new company found that WCW was a giant loss, and they didn’t really care about wrestling anyway), kind of like socialism and the fall of the Soviet Union really… so yeah, overpaid government workers. But for a time, WCW was dominating WWF. 80 or so weeks. WWF survived the onslaught… and then lost to a greater nemesis, a power neither company could ever hope to defeat- the World Wildlife Foundation. So WWF had to rename to WWE.
The game in question here came out prior to WCW’s height, prior to when they’d even think they could stand toe-to-toe like they did with WWE. In other words, prior to when they brought Hulk Hogan onboard. 4 months prior, in fact. The more astute observer might be wondering why WCW giant Ric Flair is absent. Well you’re not the only one! Instead we have the Steiner Brothers, who left WCW two years before the game was released.
So… WCW could’ve pushed back the release date of this game, removed the Steiner Brothers, and replaced them with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan (because by the time they got through removing the Steiner Brothers and drawing Ric Flair, Hogan would’ve been onboard with WCW) thus making this the 2nd video game where you could have a match between the two (the significance of that is Hogan was as synonymous with the WWF at the time as Ric Flair was with WCW, so it would be like playing out the rivalry between the companies, like that weird HHH v. Sting match at Wrestlemania 31). All of the characters used the same moves so all they had to do was replace the Steiner Brothers’ sprites with hastily-drawn Hogan and Flair sprites banged-out in an afternoon! Seems like a missed opportunity to me.
Another advantage to waiting- if the game were released in June or July of that year as opposed to February when it actually did come out then it would’ve A: capitalized on sales of Game Boy games to parents trying to keep their f$%#ing kids quiet for three g#%$@mned seconds on long car rides to summer vacation destinations and B: capitalized on the publicity of Hogan signing with WCW. And no, they did not need 2 years to manufacture the game- Doom on the Sega 32X wasn’t even finalized 2 MONTHS before its release date!
You know what the weird thing is? 5 months after Hogan joined WCW and won its top championship title, WCW released a game on the SNES that didn’t feature him. It would be another 2 years after that before any WCW game was released.
As usual, I have no idea what’s going on here. I’m just mashing buttons and hoping something happens. A winning strategy- as in I won two matches. I might’ve done better if I knew how to escape a pin. The computer did that a lot, but I couldn’t. So, in other words, it’s like any other wrestling game I’ve played! I’m sure this would be a trifle more bearable if I had the instructions. Unlike some other games, I feel I might actually have a shot at winning in this one if I had the manual. So… buying used didn’t pay off afterall.
As I mentioned earlier, each wrestler is imbued with the same moves. Punching, bouncing off the ropes and kicking in the air, suplexes (suplexii?), jumping off the ropes which as far as I can tell can’t be dodged and pins you instantly (if the computer does it), and some kind of piledriver.
You get several game modes, but they all end up being the same- pin the other guy more times than he pins you. You can either do a one-off bout to win, or go with the elimination option and systematically face the whole roster. Timed matches mean you get to pin him as many as you can in a set time, or you can do just 1 pin and win, or 2 out of 3, or 3 out of 5. And you can either just compete to compete or set it so that you win a title if you win. Doesn’t matter, none of this affects the gameplay.
The Verdict/My Take/Whatever I Usually Head This Section With
This seemed easier than other wrestling games like it that I’ve played. The most comparable ones I guess would be on the NES since they too were 8-bit with only 2 buttons to work with, and this came off as easier than those. Even easier than any of the other ones I’ve tried, with three or four buttons or more allowing for complicated move sets.
I like fighting games. I grew up on Mortal Kombat 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. I lost a summer beating Ultimate Mortal Kombat on the DS with every character. Take it from me- WWF In Your House and Wrestlemania Arcade are the only two wrestling games that are like fighting games! The others are… well, wrestling games I guess. Though with fighting games getting more complex, maybe in modern times the two once-distinct styles are blurring together. I haven’t a clue. My fighting games are 2D/sprite-based (except the first two Virtua Fighters) and that’s the way I likes ’em!