Hi guys and gals, it’s your Super Wrestling Entertainment System Kevin Williams here again with another review of another retro game.
I want to start with thanking everyone that gave Volume one a read and for the feedback received. When OSWtv asked me to do this I was a bit taken back and dare I say it a little intimidated, I thought I was much better suited having a controller in my hand than a pen!
That being said I want to talk about what got me here in the first place, Wrestling!
To anyone that knows me, they know that wrestling is my life and much like many of my colleagues, that life started at a very young age however the urge or maybe even the NEED to try my hand at this began with being a fan during the attitude era.
Kick ass matches, storylines, music and characters made quite an impression on my teenage self. I feel lucky enough to have experienced this era first hand and also lucky to experience the stream of wrestling games that were released at that time as well.
I would like to talk about the best wrestling game not only of THAT time but of ALL time.
WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64.
No Mercy was released in Europe for the Nintendo 64 in December 2000. Now wrestling games before this were not by any means terrible, I think I had as much fun playing WWF Attitude as any other game of that time (EXCEPT YOU WCW BACKSTAGE ASSAULT, NO ONE LIKES YOU!!!!). But I honestly do not know where to really start with No Mercy!
No Mercy was developed by AKI and published by THQ, who held the rights to WWF/WWE games from 1999 until January of 2013 when they sadly closed its doors as a company; they had previously released WCW World Tour, WCW vs nWo and WWF Wrestlemania 2000 prior to this with all these games using the same game engine.
They all had similar graphics and gameplay because of this and are just as enjoyable to play however, with No Mercy being the last run of this engine, it has the most to offer in my opinion.
The gameplay is the biggest selling point of this game for me hands down, it offers an engaging and immersive experience in terms of how matches are played out. It offers a comprehensive list of strikes, front grapples, back grapples, running moves, corner moves, standing and grounded turnbuckle moves as well as grounded moves for submissions etc.
These are done via the A + B buttons and when pressing A on its own or holding A on its own will enter into a strong grapple. From this point there are hundreds of moves that the game has on file, programmed superstars will have these pre-set for that wrestler but Create-a-Wrestler can have all moves available. Moves are initiated via the B and A buttons, for example once in a lock up if you press B with Triple H he will carry out the arm wrench elbow smash, press down and B he will carry out knee strikes. This applies to all situations a grapple can be initiated (front, back and turnbuckle) with stronger attacks coming from holding A for the grapple.
There are more options from the grapple than just using moves; if you are feeling frisky you can transition into a go behind for back grapple options. This is handy if you have knee based attacks if you plan on using leg submissions later on. You can send your opponent into the ropes and again have options to strike when they come back, hit a running counter move (hip toss for example) or you can hit a cheeky drop down or leap frog for funsies. You can send them into the corner to use the moves or strikes from that position.
From any given position there are options available which makes matches really competitive, what adds to this is the counter/reversal system. One shoulder button blocks strikes the other blocks grapple attempts. Timing is key with this which again can turn matches into tests of skill and timing.
The reversals themselves can be amazing and differ depending on your wrestle “type”. A suplex could be reversed into and other suplex by a standard type wrestler, a brawler may gut punch you, a cruiserweight may slink round the back at the height of the move and a submission wrestler may switch into a Fujiwara arm bar. Strikes can leave options open for more than just a strike back, a foot may be caught for a trip into whatever option your character has for its front leg attack, it could well be turned into a dragon screw. It was the first game I can remember of its time to have weight classes as well, you won’t see Crash Holly Suplexing Big Show in this game!
Matches are won and lost based on the spirit meter that each character has. As the match progresses and damage is either taken of inflicted the bar will fade to blue and appear weak or rise up to red and eventually start flashing. When this happens if you use a taunt you will be in special mode meaning that any strong grapple and a taunt from most available positions will lead to a special move which most of the time meant the end of the match. This only lasted for short period of time so a savvy player could keep out of reach for that time to avoid it or do their very best to block grapple attempts, no easy feat as special increases the players speed and reaction times which again makes matches so exciting to play.
And that’s just standard one on one matches, there is a variety of other match types to play, the most of any wrestling game on the system at that point.
King of the Ring, Royal Rumble, 4 way matches, Triple threat matches, Submission, KO, First Blood, Ladder matches and Cage Matches.
It has massive backstage areas as well. From the parking lot to boiler room all with their own destructible elements.
The single player story mode is massive as well. You can pick from any of the titles around at the time and start of on a branching story that changes depending on wins, losses and time taken to win but usually tells you if there are story stipulations. Most of the stories mimic some of the best of that time, the McMahon- Helmsley regime for example.
One of the biggest draws for me was customising superstars, something that has stuck with me when playing wrestling games. Each superstar has four attire slots which can be changed however you so wished, this for me meant updating guys on a weekly basis; did Jericho just come out with Purple Tights on Raw this week? Well No Mercy Chris, looks like you are getting purple tights! With this option available and something that the game does to save space, there is an option to use one superstar slot and have multiple wrestlers in it. For example when you unlock Mae Young, The fabulous Moolah has two attire slots, so two wrestlers for the price of one basically. This meant that my roster back in the day was huge!
A true mark of a classic is the test of time and other people have taken this updating obsession and took it to the next level as there are several mods for this game online and it is still being modded to this day and I believe that is down to the amazing gameplay. I haven’t played any recent wrestling games as I believe they suffer from COD Syndrome and are year releases of the same game, 2K18 looks to be different so I may give it a go, though they are released around my birthday so I have never bought a recent wrestling game and don’t know if I’ll start now!
In closing the sheer number of hours I have sunk into the game over the years is unmeasurable and the amount of good times spent playing it alone or with my buddies is multiple so if you have never played it please I advise you to find a way to experience it.
Next time I will be looking at one of my favourite survival horror game…. Just in time for Halloween funnily enough!
In the meantime you can catch me at the following shows:
SWE: In Yer Toon Perth September 24th
SWE: In Yer Toon Alyth September 26th
SWE: Too Hot for PG: Dundee September 28th
SWE: Uprising Dundee September 30th
And please check out www.w3lwrestling.com for all of their upcoming dates including Showdown 200 at the Rothes Halls in Glenrothes on October 27th.
Till next time folks.