History of WWF/E Games Part 17
Nintendo Game Boy
Time to look at the first WWF game to enter the 3D world.
To say I was rabid with excitement for this game is a understatement. Keep in mind that it had been the better part of two years since we last had a WWF game. WWF Warzone was hinted at in a issue of the WWF Magazine in 1997 (April I think) where it said that Acclaim were working at making a 3D wrestling game. Well as they built everything from scratch the development time was very long. In fact this game was being worked on at the same time as “In Your House” was. Because of this the roster was quite outdated when the game came was finally released.
WWF Warzone went through a big change. Originally it was simply called WWF 98, and the ring resembled the WWF ring that was used during the New Generation Era of the WWF. Due to the change in direction of the WWF at the time, the game went through some pretty big changes to fit the WWF Attitude Era. WWF Warzone would mark the return to realistic wrestling action, and would also be the first WWF game to be released for the Nintendo 64. It would also be the first WWF game to be released for the Nintendo Game Boy since WWF RAW four years prior. I remember as a kid I would spend ages staring at the first advertisements for this game in the WWF Magazine. WWF Warzone was also the first WWF game to have a create a wrestler feature, and feature WWF legends Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
Pretty much all the gaming magazines at the time really praised the visuals of this game. On the Nintendo 64 especially the wrestlers looked incredible. They were incredibly smooth, and did a great job in capturing the likeness of the Wrestlers. All of the advertisements showcased the graphics of the Nintendo 64 version. To be fair I think the Playstation version looks nearly as good. It is a little jaggier round the edges of the characters, but, the difference is not as huge as many people were making at the time. All of the moves were motion captured for this game which was really cool, and it did make some moves look really amazing.
While the Nintendo 64 may certainly have been sharper when you were actually wrestling in the ring. The Playstation version is miles ahead in other areas of presentation. For one thing the wrestlers theme music. The Nintendo 64 version still uses midi version just like the Super Nintendo did. The Playstation version on the other hand used the wrestlers real entrance music. There was also more commentary on the Playstation version. Commentary though on both versions as well as the wrestler voice samples were really cool. Also the Playstation version had real FMV video footage of the wrestlers. These were little interviews that were specifically made just for this game. While the Playstation version used FMV videos, the Nintendo 64 just had the in game character models standing there.
In the games story mode you have easily the best presentation we had ever seen in a WWF game up to this point. It was full of little cut scenes, and interviews. Also, you would see your wrestler make a entrance. It’s crazy to think it took this long for a game to have this feature. While the entrances were not really that detailed it was still really cool to have at the time.
The Game Boy version really tries its little heart out in terms of presentation. There is a return to big chunky sprites for the characters. As well as some really cool digitized style pictures. I still however feel that the visuals are not as good as the original WWF Superstars game on the Game Boy, but WWF Warzone comes closest to matching it.
You either love it or hate it. That is the best way to describe this game. Now I fully understand why a younger gamer who would go back and play this game now would think it is terrible to play. However at the time of release it was actually really fun, and very unique at the time. It had quite a in depth game play style that you really had to work at to get the best out of it.
To do moves you would have to input button combinations similar to a fighting game. For example you would press back-forward-down-A to hit a certain move. You could also grapple your opponent which would then lead to you being able to execute more moves. There really was a fantastic selection of moves for each wrestler. One thing in terms of moves that was annoying as hell was the fact that it did not tell you how to do your wrestlers finishing move. When you hit pause there was a move list, but it kept your finishing move a secret. The manual did tell you a couple of finishing moves for Bret Hart and British Bulldog’s, and off the top of my head I think Ahmed Johnson, but that was it. So I had to wait a while for a magazine to print the finishing moves.
The roster is a strange one as well as the game was so long in development the roster was a little outdated. It still had Bret Hart and British Bulldog who had left the WWF the better part of a year earlier. In a way this was great as I was a huge fan of both guys so it was awesome to have them both still be in the game. Also at the same time some characters like The New Age Outlaws who were were a pretty big deal in the months leading up to the release of this game were not included.
As far as game modes go this game was stacked. The single player championship mode was unlike anything we had in a WWF game before. It featured great TV style presentation, and was a lot of fun to play thorough. It also had a ton of replay value as well. If you beat the game with certain wrestlers you would unlock even more wrestlers. Mick Foley’s, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love were just two of the extra guys you could unlock. You can play one on one, tag matches, cage matches, weapon matches as well. Also the Nintendo 64 version would let you have a Royal Rumble, while this mode was not available in the Playstation version along with another mode called “Gauntlet”. One really cool thing about the Nintendo 64 version was the four player option. My friends and I would spend hours playing this game in four player. While it did not match WCW vs NWO World Tour it still was a fun game to play in multi player.
Perhaps the biggest thing to happen in this game along side the move into 3D was the inclusion of the “create a wrestler mode”. This was huge at the time, and I spent a great deal of time making many different wrestles. Of course by today’s standards what you could actually do is very limited, but at the time this feature was mind blowing, and it is still a big selling point in wrestling games to this day.
The Game Boy version is stacked with game play modes. You get the majority of what you get to play on the home consoles. The game play of course is simplified, and really does take a long time to get used to. I think that the lack of buttons on the game boy really was starting to take its toll on wrestling games. While it is not terrible it still does take a whole lot of effort to really get the best out of this game, and enjoy it.
WWF Warzone is a groundbreaking WWF game. While many may look back on this and think it looks bad, the fact is it really was a game changer. 3D wrestlers, create a wrestler, in depth championship mode, realistic wrestling moves, specifically filmed video content…I could go on and on. WWF Warzone really did go all out to give the WWF fans at the time a really great game. I admit it may not have aged all that well, but I will always have a soft spot for this game. It can be picked up really cheap in the UK you can easily get the Playstation version for £2. I believe that this is a game that all WWF collectors should have in there collection.
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