“A Winner is You” -Pro Wrestling, NES
If it hasn’t been apparent since this website launched, I am a wrestling connoisseur. I love everything wrestling-related. For example, I recently researched the old WWF Superstars cereal that I loved so much and seriously considered buying a 20-year-old box of it. (I think WWE-era 2002 Tommy Dreamer would still eat it.) I’m still a giant kid at heart and nothing brings out the smiles like wrestling video games.
There have been so many throughout the years and I tried to play them all. While games like No Mercy or Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain get all the love, there are plenty of others that are so hilariously bad or ridiculously forgotten that they deserve recognition.
That being said, here are ten video games I have played that deserve more recognition…either for good reasons or for bad reasons.
ECW Hardcore Revolution for N64
An ECW game had all the makings of a bloody, vulgar, awesome time. Give Acclaim the rights to the game and you have, for lack of a better term, an awful clusterfuck. Using the same exact engine as WWF War Zone and Attitude, players were treated to horrible motion-capture work, ridiculous blood/violence that didn’t warrant its “M” rating, random cussing from the crowd and controls that caused you to hit 83 different buttons just for Little Guido to perform an arm drag. I still don’t know who was in bigger trouble financially: ECW or Acclaim?
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for PS2
The Fire Pro series has been regarded as the best video game series for quite some time and I began to believe to hype when I become obsessed with its incarnation for the Game Boy Advance (I’m still working on this 64-man League that is beyond the nerdiest of nerdy things I’ve done). So, color me surprised when I found this game at Toys ‘R Us for less than $10! While I didn’t get a chance to play it as much as its GBA counterpart, it was equally awesome. Forget the bootleg names (Abdullah Danger and Saber were always my favorites), the cartoonish graphics, deep gameplay and difficulty make Fire Pro one of the best. It is huge online with people customizing and making badass stuff, too. Plus, you can create up to 500 wrestlers! You can create half of the nWo!
WCW Nitro for N64
My sister bought me this game for the PC and we couldn’t get it to work. Disappointed, I waited over a year to finally rent it for my brand-new N64. What followed was so bad, I won’t even subject you to a rundown. All I have to say is this: there was a code to have a DISCO PARTY break out during a match. Also, my game didn’t have these rants on them. WCW was falling apart, alright!
WCW Wrestling for NES
True story: I didn’t play this game until 2007. I had always looked for it as a child, but could never find out. When fellow Swoggle Squad member Rich Camillucci went through his old NES games and found this one, I pulled a Booker T and OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHed excitedly. Pop that sucka in after trying to get it to work for like two hours anticipating disappointment and…it wasn’t bad. The game actually had signature moves and made some sense. It was also dramatic, which is rare in wrestling video games now. Every 2.9 count had Rich and me standing on the furniture. The nostalgia was fun in this game compared to other crapfests on NES and SNES that just don’t hold up (*cough King of the Ring cough*)
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling for X-Box (or Gamecube, I honestly can’t remember)
Fact: this game might have the greatest roster of any wrestling game ever. Fact: I was so excited to play this game that Swoggle Squad contributor Andrew Zangre and I set up an ultra-mega-super-awesome-greatest ever dream card of matches to play over the course of one night. Fact: it lasted one match. Fact: the only move I was able to figure out how to do was a piledriver. Fact: this game, much like the rest of the series, was clunky, buggy and pitiful. Fact: we were bored the rest of the night.
Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game for PC
There are many naysayers to this game and they can all go watch an El Gigante match. I could spend hours mashing buttons and enjoying this over-the-top fun fest. Yokozuna throwing buckets of salt? Doink zapping people? Bret Hart getting hit and little hearts bursting out of him? This game rules! I think everyone forgets how good this game was and how bad In Your House was. I’m bringing this game back. I’m volunteering my services to manage Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game. Straight to the top!
Road to Wrestlemania for Game Boy Advance
Compared to the aforementioned Fire Pro Wrestling, this WWE game for the GBA is still engrained in my mind for one reason: LOOK AT THESE ENTRANCES ON A HANDHELD CONSOLE! Beyond that, this one…man, is there a word bad enough? This game…is…no, can’t think of a word to equate its awfulness. I have a thesaurus and it doesn’t help. It’s about as worthless as a Simon Dean trading card.
Raw 2 for X-Box
I never played the original Raw for X-Box, which is a good thing, by all accounts. I was super worried when my group of friends and I started to play Raw 2. We weren’t disappointed. Sure, the gameplay wasn’t the best, but the randomness and depth of the game made for a great party experience. I still remember how my buddy Randy was literally untouchable in a Royal Rumble because he would just run around with Stevie Richard holding the steel steps. I remember Nick creating the weirdest superstar ever: some green dude holding a pumpkin on a motorcycle coming out to the Top Gun theme. I remember playing four-player season mode and doing nothing but dropping a box on Spike Dudley’s head for a month straight. This game catered to those who liked the nutty in wrestling and I miss it for that reason.
Wrestlemania 21 for X-Box
I am not qualified to speak about the horror that is this game. Swoggle Squad Guest Writer Andrew Zangre has to be the one to comment.
AZ: "I actually had a nightmare recently about Wrestlemania 21 for XBOX. The nightmare skipped around a lot and got frozen in random places, just like the game itself. It was devoid of anything even remotely resembling fun.
After I woke up in a cold sweat, I realized I had never fully gotten over what a miserable letdown this game was. It made Spider-Man 3 look fantastic. It made O.J. look innocent. It made 9/11 look...okay, I won't go that far.
But trust me, it was awful."
I couldn't put it any better.
WrestleFest for Arcade
When I get enough money, everybody best believe that this game is going in my house. One of the best wrestling games ever made, it was bright, entertaining, fun, challenging, deep and unique and every other positive adjective you can throw its way. I pumped so many quarters into this machine at my local bowling alley; it wasn’t even funny. That being said: I NEVER BEAT THE GAME. It is a mission and a quest that I must complete before I die. I must beat you, Legion of Doom. Seriously, if this doesn’t bring a smile to your face, I don’t know what will. THQ: mini-game in any wrestling game in the future. Don’t make me beg like Matt Striker at the 2011 Royal Rumble.
This was a fun trip down memory lane preparing for WWE ’12. Let’s hope the game makes me grin from ear to ear like WrestleFest and not make me want to get struck by a bus like WCW Nitro. I won’t know until the controls are in my hands. Let’s hope A Winner Are Us.