The world of professional wrestling can be summed up in few aspects; bright lights, excessive pyro, iconic entrance music, larger than life characters and dramatic storylines. Essentially the sport is a real life video game so it is no revelation many video games have spawned from it.
This week’s list will focus on four of the best wrestling video games across the generations. So “whatcha gonna do brother?, whatcha gonna do, when Four of a Kind runs wild on you!”
1. WWF Raw (SNES, Sega Megadrive)
During the early 1990s Acclaim Entertainment published a trilogy of wrestling games under the WWF name.
WWF Raw was the final installment and arguably the best of the three, first two WWF Super Wrestlemania and WWF Royal Rumble respectively.
Released in 1994 the visuals were colourful, controls focused on precision, the animations seemed simple and each wrestler’s manoeuvres, including ‘mega moves ’, was diverse.
In terms of the grappling system WWF Raw utilised a ‘tug-of-war’ style system, a meter would appear on screen allowing players to press buttons in order to pull energy in their favour.
The only minor negative was all wrestlers’ height being rendered as the same.
2. WCW/NWO Revenge (N64)
AKI’s WCW/NWO Revenge defines the word paradox as the game was a brilliant representation of a company slowly edging toward catastrophe. The game features; an extensive roster including both every WCW wrestler of the period and original characters, outstanding gameplay that improved upon the grappling engine of its awful predecessor WCW/NWO World Tour, an excellent ‘Championship’ mode and an addictive multiplayer.
Though the visuals have not aged well it was considered impressive for the time.
3. WWF No Mercy! (N64)
Released in mid 2000 many agree WWF No Mercy! epitomises brilliant wrestling games due to THQ improving vastly upon the basic models of previously released WWF games. For example the roster was extremely in-depth, including both many major and minor stars of the time. Also the create-a-wrestler mode was even more detailed allowing for innovative and fun creations.
Though graphically the game has not maintained to modern standards, the entrance music was off tone and the entrances were short the mechanics of the grappling system was smooth and intricate to the point gameplay flowed seemingly into one. In terms of matches momentum would be gained and lost at a pace that created a fun, immersive experience.
4. WWE SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain (Playstation 2)
Critics concur WWE SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain is the finest installment to Yukes series as it boasted; the largest roster of current and legendary names available, a polished grappling system that improved upon previous SmackDown games, better graphics and smoother gameplay. Yukes also established new match types such as first blood, bra and panties and the Elimination Chamber.
Outside the ring the game was even more satisfying with continually developing storylines and interactive backstage areas delivering both real and surreal moments i.e. the helicopter elbow drop.
That concludes the fatal four way match up. It shouldn’t be a surprise the list was dominated by WWF, now WWE, as Vince McMahon’s company is the biggest organisation in modern wrestling and the majority of wrestling games have been under his banner. There are of course other great, non WWF/E wrestling games that are not featured on Four of a Kind so feel free to leave a comment in the section below and tell of your favourites.
Honourable mentions: Temco World Wrestling (NES), WCW Wrestling (NES), Pro Wrestling (NES), WWF Wrestlefest (Arcade), WWF War Zone (Playstation), Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (Playstation 2), Def Jam Vendetta 2 (Playstation 2) and Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 (N64)