History of WWF/E Games Part 4
WWF Wrestlemania Challenge
This week we look at one of my favourite games from my childhood.
WWF Wrestlemania Challenge was the second WWF title to be released on the NES by LJN, but this is far from a quick cash in sequel to the first Wrestlemania game on the NES. Wrestlemania Challenge was released at a time when the WWF’s popularity was sky high, and this game really captures the time frame of the WWF really well.
One great thing that perhaps makes this game so good was that instead of just giving us an improved version of what they had given us before, they gave us something completely new, and not only was it new, the game was a great deal of fun to play as well. While as a kid I enjoyed the first Wrestlemania title, Wrestlemania Challenge was the wrestling game that would always be in my NES, even though we would get two more WWF games on the NES from LJN (in my personal opinion none of them come close to being as fun as this one).
Wrestlemania Challenge offers a very different visual style to its predecessor, and in fact it looks unlike any other WWF game on the NES. For starters the view of the wrestling ring is no longer face on, instead it is at a isometric view, and your wrestlers health bars are on the ring aprons. A huge improvement over the original Wrestlemania is the overall look of the arena. With the view being at an angle you get to see much more of the arena, which is full of fans and quite highly detailed for a NES game. I think that anyone like me who was a kid when this game was first released had to have been blown away by the picture of the Ultimate Warrior when the game booted up.
As far as the character sprites go they are a little bit smaller than the ones in the first Wrestlemania game but still well detailed. You can easily tell who each of the nine characters are supposed to be, and the animations are really well done in this game. Some of the wrestlers signature moves for example look amazing; Ravishing Rick Rude’s Rude Awakening neck breaker always springs to my mind when I think of this game. He was never one of my favourite wrestlers growing up but the move in this game looked so cool I would always pick him.
I honestly really have no complaints over this game as far as its overall presentation goes, even from a sound point of view its fantastic. Each wrestlers entrance music will play during the match, the same way it did in the original Wrestlemania. Everything about Wrestlemania Challenge has a high quality look to it.
Wrestlemania Challenge on the surface may look like your typical button masher wrestling game, but there actually is some strategy involved especially in multi-player, but also in single player as well. You have your basic strikes and your wrestlers signature moves at your disposal, but you can also wrestle outside the ring. When you are playing in multi-player you really have to think about what you are doing. It can be very easy to wander into a punch and then all of a sudden your opponent has hit you with about four moves, and half your energy is gone. This is where strategy comes into play. If you can go awhile without being hit you can recover some energy. So what was once a wrestling game then becomes a game of tag, as you franticly run around the ring and try to avoid your opponent. All the while they are trying to catch you and give you a good beating. This can make multi-player games very exciting indeed.
As far as game play modes goes Wrestlemania Challenge really is quite stacked. Of course it shines in multi-player but it does have a good deal of single player modes also. WWF Championship mode is the usual beat all the wrestlers to become WWF Champion deal, but this game has a twist; you pick a wrestler called yourself. This is a fictional wrestler for you to use your imagination. Once you get to the higher levels of wrestlers people like Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, the game gets really hard and you have to use the running away strategy to survive. As well as this Championship mode there is tagteam matches and three on three Survivor Series matches. During these matches your tag partners can interfere and help you out.
One thing I always feel that gets overlooked in Wrestlemania Challenge is its two player co-op Tag Team Championship mode. Where you and a buddy can team up together and take on the the roster and become the WWF Tag Team Champions.
Wrestlemania Challenge is a great game, and out of the four WWF title that LJN released this is by far my favourite. I feel it still holds up well today. Wrestlemania Challenge to me is like a time capsule, and if you are a old school WWF fan when you fire this up it is like taking a trip back in time. It its the perfect blend of being a great multi-player game as well as having a great selection of single player modes as well. If you are a younger gamer and a wrestling fan and want to try out one of the older WWF games, then I cannot recommend this game enough.
Playing Wrestlemania Challenge on Christmas day in 1990 when my dad set up my little portable TV in the living room so I wouldn’t have to be in my bedroom by myself is one of my favourite memories growing up. Wrestlemania Challenge is one of my most nostalgic games, also the game cart I have today is still the same one that I got on that Christmas morning back in 1990.
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