Arcade Tales Part IV
WWF Wrestlemania The Arcade Game
Many people find it strange when I tell them that this is one of my favourite video games of all time. This is one of those video games that get’s a very raw deal as far as I am concerned. On one hand it is hated on by wrestling fans for being unrealistic and on the other hand it is hated on for being a wrestling game. The truth is that it is neither, Wrestlemania is a arcade fighting game that just so happens to feature WWF wrestlers as the characters, and you want to know something else its one damn good fighting game at that.
Released in 1995 Wrestlemania was developed by Midway famous for tons of great games including Mortal Kombat. Some of the guys who worked on Mortal Kombat also worked on this game including Sal Davita. This game actually shares far more in common with Mortal Kombat than it does any wrestling game. For starters the graphics are digitized like in Mortal Kombat. Midway got in 8 of the WWF’s top wrestlers at the time and they all look amazing, and this was some of the best digitized graphics you will ever see. The attention to the little detail really is staggering, they captured the personality of each wrestler superbly.
Wrestlemania’s style is quite similar to other fighting games. You play a best of three rounds, and when you get rid of all of you’re opponents energy you win the round. There is no traditional pinning for a 123 count like in other wrestling games; you just have to deplete all the energy of your opponent. This game does feature a good amount of real traditional wrestling moves like a suplex, pile driver, and body slam, but what sets this game apart is the crazy over the top moves (this is the reason many wrestling fans dislike the game). I feel that these crazy moves really make the game so much more fun than a normal wrestling game.
Each of the eight characters in Wrestlemania is truly unique. No one guy plays like anyone else, and that is part of what makes this game so fantastic. While they each have their own traditional wrestling moves, the crazy over the top stuff is great. For example Undertaker when he choke slams someone will jump 50 feet in the air. Or Razor Ramon can actually turn his arm into a razor to attack his opponent. Even normal moves have been given a crazy make over including when Bret Hart slaps someone in the sharpshooter you can actually hear there spine snap.
Another similarity to Mortal Kombat is the inclusion of blood…well kind of blood. Each wrestler “bleeds” except instead of the red stuff something else comes out. For example when you hit the sumo wrestler Yokozuna a big Christmas ham will fly out of him, if you hit the muscle bound Lex Luger then dumb bells will fly out of him, and if you smack Shawn Michaels in the face a bunch of love hearts will fly out of him. These great little touches really add to the individuality of each character. To top all of this off Wrestlemania plays exceptionally well; the controls are very tight and the game is very easy to pick up and play. If you stick at it you can learn all of the characters super moves and combos, and some of the combos in this game are over 20 hits long.
There are only two game play modes in the game, Intercontinental Championship and WWF Championship. In Intercontinental Championship you face four 1 on 1 matches, than two 1 on 2 matches, and finally a 1 on 3 match. The WWF one is harder with four 1 on 2 than 2 one on 3, and finally you must face all 8 wrestlers including a duplicate of yourself. The game does also have multiplayer where you can team up and take on all 8 other wrestlers, but the catch is you share a energy bar with you’re partner, so you have to watch each others backs.
I first played this game in Blackpool in the summer of 1995 and was simply blown away. I could not get over how real the wrestlers looked. Unfortunately this was one of those games that was quite expensive to play… it was 50 pence a turn. Wrestlemania was actually the game that made me want a Sony Playstation. All the advertisements for this game in the various magazines would always make a point of mentioning that the screen shots were from the Playstation version. While the home versions (except the SNES) had all the charm of the arcade, the graphics even on the Playstation and Saturn looked really poor compared to the arcade version. Do not get me wrong they are still a blast to play, but you will be shocked at how different they look, especially the 32bit versions. I am sure they could have made these closer to the arcade but instead they look like a more polished version of the 16bit versions. Also the arcade game had these funny little endings for each character that for what ever reason they took out of the home ports. While the Playstation version was the first one I got, I am now lucky enough to own all the versions of this game, and you may be surprised to know that my favourite is the Sega 32X version.
This is a game if you have any interest in fighting games that you really should give a try. Many people missed the point entirely in this game, including Acclaim who made a sequel called WWF In Your House that really lacked most of the charm in what made Wrestlemania so great.
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