The Ten Count 7.19.13: Top 10 Wrestling Video Games
Posted by Jesse Nguyen on 07.19.2013
From the old days of the NES's Pro Wrestling and the arcade classic Wrestlefest, all the way up to the current WWE13, Jesse Nguyen counts down his favorite pro wrestling video games!
Wrestling has been embodied in many forms of media. There have been movies about pro wrestling, books, television programs, and of course, video games. At of all those, I think it is safe to say that video games are the most successful. Now when I'm not sitting on my butt watching pro wrestling, good chances are that I'm sitting on my butt with a controller in my hands. Of course I was always drawn towards games based on wrestling, even if they were terrible, and there are plenty of them. The bad ones are for a later date though, as today I'm going to count down the best pro wrestling games of all time.
10. WWF Wrestlemania Arcade for Arcades, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis
I remember walking into a bowling alley one day and seeing this machine in the arcade. Needless to say, my eyes lit up and I jammed my quarters into it as fast as I could. At the time, 1995, this was one of the most impressive looking wrestling games. It featured digitized graphics, just like in Mortal Kombat. Not a surprise as much of the game is inspired by that game, it was even published by Midway. That being said, it plays more like a fighter, and even has some outlandish moves. The roster is pretty standard for the time. It includes Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, and Doink the Clown. The arcade version had Yokozuna and Bam Bam Bigelow, but there were taken out of the home ports due to limitations. The gameplay plays more like a fighter, as you'll throw more punches and kicks rather than suplex people. Jerry Lawler and Vince McMahon even do commentary, although hearing "Pin him!" over and over again is pretty grating. Still a fun game to this day, and if you can find an arcade with it, definitely grab a friend and battle it out.
9. Pro Wrestling for NES
Believe it or not, Pro Wrestling was not the first wrestling game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. That would be M.U.S.C.L.E, but that game is pretty bad. Pro Wrestling was one of the black box games for NES, and released in the US in 1987. It was easily one of the best wrestling games on NES, and actually paved the way for future games. The referee would follow the wrestlers, and even dive the mat in order to make a three count. You could leave the ring, but if you aren't careful, you'll be counted out. There's also a cameraman that follows the action, but sadly you can't interact with him. The roster had seven characters, all quite different from one another. My personal favorite was The Amazon, who would choke the opponent behind the ref's back, then act as if he wasn't doing anything wrong. This game had some great details, and even today it is fun to pop in and play. There was even a campaign where you would have to fight up to win the VWA (Video Wrestling Association) Championship, then defend it against ten challengers. Although good luck beating Great Puma, because it is still difficult today. What else is there to say except, "A Winner is You".
8. Tecmo World Wrestling for NES
Two years after Pro Wrestling was released, Tecmo came out with their own wrestling game. It improved on everything that Pro Wrestling had. The roster grew to 11, and each wrestler was given about 20 moves to perform. The controls were a bit different, but they work quite well. Instead of a grapple button, the two competitors will automatically go into an elbow and collar tie up when they are close enough. It really promoted button mashing, a technique still used in fighting games today. One of the best parts of this game is the replay feature. Perform a signature or finisher, and the game would cut away to a close up of your wrestler using that move. The graphics are quite good during this, and it can lead to some hype moments. The announcer down at the bottom screen does a good job following the action. Again there was a campaign where you would try to challenge the boss, Blue King. There was even some mini games between matches where you could make your chosen wrestler stronger for the next match. Pick up a copy if you see it, as it is pretty cheap and easy to find.
7. Saturday Night Slam Masters for SNES and Sega Genesis
A lot of wrestling games that are well known are based on actual wrestling companies. Even if they don't have WWE stamped on them, it was common for a video game to have characters based on actual wrestlers. Capcom took a different route in 1993 and created a roster of original characters for Saturday Night Slam Masters. The game plays more like a fighting game, with a beat 'em up style of controls. Even so, the game features grappling, suplexes, and even unique finishing moves. Some of these finishers are completely outrageous and fun to watch. You can also pin and submit people, but you have to drain their life bar completely, as the opponent can usually get out even with the smallest sliver of life. The wrestlers are all fun and creative. You can even pick the Mayor of Earth, Mike Haggar. Also in the roster are the small luchadore El Stingray, wild jungle man Rasta, Gunloc (who is suppose to be Guile's brother, according to Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game), and the very round Jumbo. The game is a lot of fun to play, but the modes are very slim. There are only one on one and two on two options. There's no tagging in the two on two either, as it is tornado style. Sadly there are no double team moves, either. The campaign is just going through the gauntlet of characters until you win the title, then doing it again to defend it. The music is awesome, however, as with most Capcom games at the time. This game is also pretty cheap, and great for playing with friends. It is an arcade style game, with perfect pick up and play style
6. WWF RAW for SNES and Genesis
LJN is known for making some pretty terrible games. Wrestling ones included. However, in 1994, they finally made a good game in the form of WWF RAW. Essentially, it is just a sequel to Royal Rumble for the same systems, but much improved. The roster is what you expect it to be for the time. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Doink the Clown, and...Luna? Points to gender equality, that's for sure. There also a plethora of game modes including singles, tag, Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series. Again, not much of a campaign. Just beat everyone and get the title. It is all done pretty well, but what excels in this game are the little details they threw in. All the wrestlers have their own finishers and 'mega' moves. They will even do taunts before or after hitting them. Controls are also done well, but it brings back the button mashing tactics of the NES games. LJN seem to finally put some work into this game, as it is a fun game, and well worth popping in again when you get an itch to dig out your SNES.
5. WWE All Stars for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
While THQ released WWE 12, one of the worst games in the series, in 2011, they also released WWE All Stars. It was quite different than the standard fare, which tried to emulate pro wrestling accurately (kinda.) WWE All Stars was more of an arcade game, and was marketed for its pick up and play style. The wrestlers had very exaggerated features, including pectoral muscles that reminded me of the Ren and Stimpy episode. The moves were also crazy. You could juggle someone in the air then catch them into a suplex. Finishers and signatures were the most over the top maneuvers in the game. Chokeslams, Pedigrees, and Stunners were all enhanced with flips, absurd jumping heights, and rolls. The roster included the top talent at the time and legends. One of the modes includes playing out 'what if' matches, like the straightedge CM Punk against the beer drinking Stone Cold Steve Austin. You could easily do these in exhibition matches, but they edited videos to show how the two relate to each other, which is nice. There's also a campaign, but it is pretty shallow. With all that said, this is great game with friends. It even seems to draw in people who are not even wrestling fans. A simple game, but fun nonetheless.
4. WWE 13 for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
The latest in the WWE games as of this writing, and also one of the best ones. Ever since the Smackdown games made their way to the Playstation 2, they were treated somewhat like the Madden games. Every year a game would come out, and they would make minor tweaks and adjustments, sometimes added a little more. WWE 13 had a big change as it took out the Road to Wrestlemania mode and instead putting in Attitude Era mode. You would play through some of most famous matches in that era, and unlock game items by performing historic objectives. The mode is actually pretty fun and gives a good dose of nostalgia. WWE Universe mode returned, and is well done, although it would be nice if random story points didn't ruin your plans. Every kind of match you could want is in the game, including Money in the Bank, Hell in a Cell, and the Royal Rumble. The game does have some glitches at time, but I always found them to be kinda charming, and none of them were game breaking. The create a wrestler is quite robust, and if you're not very good at it, (like me) you can always just download created one by the fan community. The only real problem I have with WWE 13 is how all human matches can be drawn out due to the heavy reversal system. It will be interesting to see if WWE 2k14 can do better. If not, at least WWE 13 will price drop.
3. WWF Wrestlefest in arcades
When I was a kid, arcades were everywhere, and it was a wondrous time. These days arcades are pretty rare, but sometimes you can get lucky and find one close by. If you are incredibly lucky you will find a WWF Wrestlefest in an arcade. It came out in 1991 and was the sequel to WWF Superstars. Again, the roster is pretty good. Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Ted DiBiase, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Demolition. The Legion of Doom are in the game, but you can't play as them, unless you use a cheat code. Speaking of the Legion of Doom, if you managed to get to them in the tag team campaign, this machine would eat your quarters faster than ROH kills an IPPV stream. Getting hit with the Doomsday Device is a death sentence. The only other mode is a Royal Rumble, where six wrestlers are in the ring at the same time. Quite impressive at the time, as the graphics, while cartoony, are great. When you throw someone out, you get a picture in picture show of the next wrestler getting pumped up for their entrance. Everyone has their proper move sets, finishers included. There's even double team moves, how cool is that? WWE made a remake of this game of iOS, but I think it would be better to do it for Xbox live or Playstation network. I know mobile gaming is profitable, but I think the consoles are still in the lead.
2. Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for Playstation 2
I had to put a Fire Pro Wrestling game on this list, the question was which one to put on here. I went with Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for a couple of reasons. One, it is one of the only ones to actually come over to America (where I'm located.) Two, it is easy to find and pretty cheap, so anyone interested should be able to pick it up with no problem. As long as you have a PS2 or a PS3, as it is on the network. Anyway, the Fire Pro series if pretty celebrated, having starting back on the PC Engine in 1989. Ever since then it has been on every game system ever created, it seems. In the US, we only received Fire Pro Wrestling for the Game Boy Advance, but in 2007, we got Fire Pro Wrestling Returns. Probably the greatest aspect of this game is being able to create anybody you want in this series, from real wrestlers to fictional fast food mascots. If you put the time into it, you can create a dream roster of 500 wrestlers. You can also give them full movesets and set how their AI will work if you have the computer control them. It is actually quite impressive. You can also create belts, logos, rings, and fractions. The gameplay is also well done as it is another pro wrestling game that has great pick up and play controls. You've got all kind of matches, including steel cage and deathmatches. There is no campaign mode, but this game is perfect for anyone who wants to play the role as booker. The real fun of this game is putting together the dream matches you've never seen and seeing how they could play out.
1. N64 AKI Wrestling Games for Nintendo 64
I know that this is a cop out to put more than one game on the top spot, but these games are all so good that I can't just pick one. WCW vs. NWO Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, and WWF No Mercy are all still games I pop in today to play. If I had to pick just one, it would be Wrestlemania 2000. All the games are awesome. They are the perfect party games, and nothing beats a night of playing these games with a couch full of friends. Revenge was a sequel to WCW World Tour and got the series off to a good start. The campaign was just going through the gauntlet to get the title, but it was fun having who you wanted being champions. Wrestlemania 2000 came out next, when THQ switched over to WWE. It added the ability to create your own wrestler and put anyone you want through a lengthy storyline on the Road to Wrestlemania. It actually challenged you at times, and you could win the championship before Mania. Purposely losing title defenses by countout would get the belt taken away from you, ending the game on a bad note. More moves and controls were added in as well. No Mercy was the third one, and while it added even more story, I still prefer Wrestlemania 2000. One of the problems I've had with No Mercy is the slowdown when more than two wrestler on on the screen. No Mercy did add in the ladder match, which can get quite crazy when you do a triple threat or fatal four way. Over all, each game is just as fun as the others, and playing any of them is sure to be a good time. Until a cat comes by and brushes against the system, freezing the system and causing a collective groan in the room.
When people talk about video games, there's always a personal preference. I know I left out a couple of other really good games, like Day of Reckoning for Gamecube and Def Jam Vendetta, but I've play so many that I'm sure there are some that just slipped my mind. I'd be happy to play any of these games at just about any time of the day. Sadly, there are plenty of bad games to shift to. We'll get to those next week. Support Pro Wrestling!