Arcade Tales Part III
Released in 1991 by Techons who are perhaps most famous for being the people behind the Double Dragon series, WWF Wrestlefest is one of the most fondly remembered wrestling games of all time by wrestling fans and maybe even non wrestling fans. Unlike many arcade conversions WWF Wrestlefest never had a port made for any system. The reason for this was because Acclaim held the rights to make games based on the WWF for the home consoles, while Ocean Software owned the rights to make WWF games for the home computers such as the Amiga and C64. This really was unfortunate as the difference between this game and what we actually got on the consoles is huge. This really was a shame as I am sure we could have gotten a fairly decent port on the Super Nintendo. It is worth mentioning that Techons did actually release a WWF game a couple of years prior to this called WWF Superstars.
If you can imagine the first time I saw this in arcades was at a time when I was a rabid wrestling fan. Being a wrestling fan and a gamer was kind of hard back in the early 90’s I had WWF Wrestlemania and WWF Wrestlemania Challenge on my beloved NES, and I also had a WWF Wrestlemania for my classic ZX Spectrum with its 128k of ram (yep you read that right 128k and they bragged about it) any way these games while I enjoyed them were extremely limited and pretty much all the wrestlers had the same exact moves, and kind of looked the same except for a pallet swap here and there.
WWF Wrestlefest changed all of that, each wrestler not only had amazingly animated moves each with there own arsenal of pile drivers, suplexes, and other bone crushing moves. What made WWF Wrestlefest so special in my opinion was that each wrestler had all of there little mannerisms that made each character so unique when you saw them on TV or at a live event. It was great being The Ultimate Warrior on Wrestlemania Challenge on my NES, but the truth is apart from his finishing move he was just really the same as Hulk Hogan in the game. In WWF Wrestlefest there was no mistaking that you were playing as The Ultimate Warrior.
It is the little things that sometimes make a great game and this game had it all. It had a few different arenas each one based on a WWF TV show, it even had a small amount of commentary. My only complaint is that for whatever reason there is no theme music for the wrestlers. Perhaps though the biggest oddity in WWF Wrestlefest is the fact that Macho Man Randy Savage although he would have been the Macho King during the time this game was developed was not included.
First time I saw this game I could not believe how amazing it looked. I was at one of the many arcades in a seaside town called Scarborough here in the UK, and they had it hooked up to this huge monitor with 4 joysticks connected. It only had two game modes a tag team challenge, and the amazing Royal Rumble mode. Unlike WWF Superstars before it, this game was actually a fair challenge still to this day I do not think there is a harder boss than Andre The Giant in WWF Superstars. But for WWF Wrestlefest while it was hard it was also fair which at the time was a bit unusual for arcade games. I was so desperate to get to the final match in the tag team mode and take on The Legion of Doom I think I must have put about £10 into the machine in this one sitting.
Now I kid you not first time I played this game I had these huge blisters on my fingers, the reason for this was to win the grapples which would then let you execute a move, I had to mash the buttons as fast as I could. I played the game so much while my family was enjoying the rest of the park I was just throwing money into this machine. It is one of my fondest arcade memories even with the pain of the blisters afterwards, it was totally worth it.
I could write about this game for ages, and I always wish that Acclaim or Ocean Software could have cut some kind of deal to let them port this to the home consoles or even the home computers. Stay tuned for my next arcade tales next week, where I will talk about what is possibly my favourite video game of all time.
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