With Wrestlemania coming up tonight and tomorrow in a special 2-night presentation presented to you by COVID-19, I’ll again do a review of a wrestling game. This one is quite a bit more complex than the one I went over last time. WCW Nitro, for those so far removed that you still think wrestling fans think it’s all real (seriously, do you hear a wrestling fan standing up in the middle of the 1983 Twilight Zone movie shouting “why are you watching this, don’t you know this is fake”? And as for those who think the athleticism in wrestling is fake, I’ll remind you that it’s just as real and dangerous as filming was for the 1983 Twilight Zone movie), takes its name from WCW’s Monday night wrestling show that ran from 1995 to 2001. A lot changed in that time.
Sure the graphics are different, but it’s the same incomprehensible mess that almost all wrestling games are to me. They’re not a simple “pick up and play” like say Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter where dumb luck hits easier. You need ADVANCED luck to get the right moves without reading the manual. While the goal is the same- to deplete your opponent’s health until they’re forced to give up- you get to it in a more roundabout way. You have the usual fighting-game punches and kicks, but you also have various holds and a more complicated arrangement of buttons to do any kind of complex move.
Now yes, I know, the easy solution is to just read a manual, and the PlayStation game here came with one, but I submit to you: that won’t work if you’re on a tight budget and get the 99 cent copy that doesn’t have a manual, or the $4 SNES game that doesn’t have a manual, and so on. Ok fine, you DO have the internet and these days it is easy to just pull out your phone and call up a manual online, and I’m just making a big thing out of nothing because of my dated belief that games should have intuitive controls… or maybe wrestling games do have intuitive controls for fans of the genre and I just never got to that stage because the entry-level complexity alienated me.
Anyway, I was playing this one with my cousin who has an equal unfamiliarity with the dynamics of a wrestling game, and I will say it’s a lot more fun to mess around with someone else who has no idea what they’re doing than to take on a computer that knows exactly what it’s doing.
As much as I complain about the controls, there is a reason for the complexity: a wrestler has quite a few moves in their arsenal, certainly more than the 4 directional buttons and 10 other buttons would allow for. You’ll note that I did not reference the analog sticks- that’s because the DualShock controllers were only 3 months old when this game came out, and still 3 months away from being released in the U.S. Since this game was not even released in Japan, you understand why it would not be built with the new tech in mind.
This game has some flash though to it that I can appreciate- videos. There’s the opening montage, and each character has a video where the real wrestler blabs to you.
There are some customization options too, like how long matches last or if someone comes out of nowhere and jumps your character. You can also choose if you want to just do a quick match or pursue a title. You can even do a tag team match with a Player 2 as your teammate.
There is one drawback that is universal though- an ever so slight lag between when you press a button and when something happens on the screen. I think that’s the only complaint I have that transcends experiences. Another drawback might be that they had to leave out each wrestler’s entrance to fit everything else in here, but given what you get instead maybe it was worth it.
There aren’t that many WCW games out there and this one is cheap, plus it was the first WCW game released featuring Hulk Hogan. From my uninitiated perspective, this played just like almost any wrestling game I’ve played, whether it was on the PS3, PS2, SNES, or even Sega CD.