Monday, September 12, 2005

Top 5 Wrestling Video Games

This is solely based on what I've played. While that normally would deter me from such a list, I have this strange feeling I won't die without having first explored "WCW Backstage Assault" or "King of the Ring" for Game Boy. That being said...

Honorable mention: Showdown: Legends of Wrestling - Legends is not a horrible game to play. The unique way of countering moves and stringing them together is fun when you practice a bit. It has a learning curve and that's all right. What blows? Well, here are all your favorite wrestlers, (for the most part) looking good and accurate to their former selves. But wait...Dynamite Kid just pulled out a spinning tombstone piledriver. Bruno Sammartino just did a Rock Bottom. Maybe not word-for-word, but that's the biggest sticking point of the game. The move sets suck and stuff. The third in the series, Showdown, had impressive recreations of popular wrestling venues like the Silverdome and MSG. It had ring announcer Gary Michael Capetta, and commentary from Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Larry Zybysko. All of that doesn't hide the fact Jerry Lawler just did a press slam to Big John Studd. I must say though, it's the only game that accurately incorporates the door into a cage match. Cool in some ways, very very UNcool in others.

5. Tie; WWF Royal Rumble & WWF RAW - Multiple Platforms - With the games prceeding this being such "gems" as "WWF Wrestle Mania" and "Steel Cage Challenge" for the NES, it was a huge breath of fresh air at the time. I put them in a tie for various reasons. "Rumble" had the superior roster, allowed you to be all players on a tag team, but had a simpler AI, fewer match options, and the same moveset for everybody (save finishers). "RAW" had varied match types, submission victories, the bucket on the floor, but some crappy moves on the wrestlers. This can't score any higher than 5 because of the goofy engine whereby you button mash your side of this meter full and the last button press triggers the move you do.

4. WWE Smackdown vs. RAW - PS2 - Just as with sports games, the "Smackdown" series kept getting better by the year with little tweaks at every corner to get it closer to the real thing. SvR had the tactics meter, while ultimately useless in an actual match, it was fun to see go up and down and fun to do things we've seen the heels do for years - hold to a five count, complain after a particularly slow count, etc. SD! as a whole is a great, great series and this was one game in it. Only reason it gets a lower placement? The abhorrent single player with very few storylines due to the damn superstar voiceovers.

3. WCW/NWO Revenge - N64 - I shant go too in depth about the engine yet (*coughhinthintcough*) but needless to say, this was a really fun game from THQ under their now famous template used previously in the bad game "WCW/NWO World Tour." What knocks it down in today's world is the lack of a create a wrestler and the reams of goofy fake characters. Why are they there again? Cannon fodder in battle royals?

2. WWE Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain - PS2 - If you've been following the list to this point, then you know why this ranks higher. It had an awesome season mode where you could customize who was on SD or RAW, who was face or heel, or who was even active. Of course, the game is old now, you can't have a season with just the guys currently employed. But if they made this game again with the current crop of wrestlers, I wouldn't complain. It was the SD where they introduced the multiple grapples, multiple counter buttons, the submission meters, body specific damage...the only reason I don't play it as much now is the aforementioned roster and just being use to the latest game. Ahhh, darn.

1. WWF No Mercy - N64 - Like you had to ask? The THQ engine, or more popularly because of this game, "The No Mercy Engine" is great for a number of reasons. Your finisher is wholly reliant on the very same principles as on TV in kayfabe at least. As you do better and better moves, without repetition, the crowd gets behind you and you build closer to a finisher. Once this reaches a fever pitch, you may execute it. Similarly, if you keep doing the same crap, it'll get countered often and won't add to your "attitude." Okay, so the name was lame, but hey. In any event, you also couldn't do "big" moves on a guy who was fresh, so you had to build to them with weak grapple attacks and strikes.

In both of these ways, the matches built, had climaxes...and more importantly to us fans, lasted a fair amount of time. Unlike SD! would in the future, an average match could feasibly go 7 or 8 minutes before a decision would be close to rendered. It was our first exposure to the ladder match in a game which was fantastically fun to play at the time. Multiplayer is always awesome and NM was no exception. If you're half a wrestling video game fan, you already knew about this game and how awesome it was. But I couldn't help but ramble. Fun memories, and I still love going back to it when I can.

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