Giant Gram 2000: All Japan Pro Wrestling 3
I have never been a big import gamer if I am honest, but one game that I went out of my way to import was Giant Gram 2000 for the Sega Dreamcast. Truth be told I am not really a Japanese wrestling fan, but the game from the screenshots I saw looked amazing. So I ordered it along with some kind of boot disc to allow me to play imports. And wouldn’t you know it the darn game arrived about a week before my boot disc did.
I have heard that in Japan the Giant Gram series is also available as an arcade machine as well. One cool thing that was released alongside this game was a really awesome special edition VMU unit that had its own mini game on it, as well as having Japanese wrestling legend Giant Baba on it.
It was the graphics that drew me to this game. I first saw it not in a gaming magazine, but in a wrestling magazine we used to have here in the UK called World Of Wrestling. While this is a Japanese wrestling game, the screenshots I first saw were of wrestlers like Vader, Steve Williams and Bart Gunn. These were wrestlers that I actually knew and that was what got me interested.
The character models when standing still look great, but when I play the game now the animation is quite choppy in places. The wrestler entrances also look a little odd. Vader for example sort of waddles to the ring. But back in 2000 this was the most amazing wrestling game I had ever seen. The game has some pretty cool effects when you execute certain moves where it’s like you can see the bones breaking; it’s pretty awesome stuff.
The arenas in the game look great, but the only problem I have is that there is only two of them. Which is a shame as they put a great deal of work into them so I would love to have seen more varied designs. The sound is great and it has some play by play of which I cannot understand, but it was still cool. The best aspect of the sound though is the slams and thuds of the wrestling action, and each move really does feel like it hurts because of the great sound effects.
You certainly need a guide if you play this game as 99 percent of the text is in Japanese. Lucky for me when I bought the game it came with a couple of sheets of A4 paper at least telling what each menu was. Without that I would have been royally screwed. The game has two main single player game modes. You have an arcade mode which sees you either wrestle single or tag team matches in order to become the champion.
You also have a history mode which is great if you are big into Japanese wrestling and it is a fantastic idea. You play out some of All Japan Wrestling’s greatest matches using the actual classic wrestlers, some of which I knew were Bruno Sammartino and Bruiser Brody which was cool. You need to take part in the matches and execute certain moves at a certain time just like the real match. You need to score a minimum of 80 percent accuracy to move on. Without a guide I dare say that this mode to someone who does not understand Japanese is impossible. If you beat a match though you get a cool video clip.
The game play is pure arcade wrestling action which is great in one way as it does offer some very easy pick up and play wrestling action. You only need three buttons strike, grapple and throw. One cool thing is the games reversal system where you use the exact same buttons, but strike beats throw, grapple beats strike and throw beats grapple. I thought this was a very interesting and unique system and one I had never experienced before.
While this is a pick up and play game pulling of some of the more advanced moves was really tricky and as a result I personally could not make it all the way through the games history mode. Most of the time when I would pull of one of the better grapple moves it was purely down to luck, but this is not an issue with the game, it is me just not being able to play it. One other thing I need to mention is the games create a wrestler mode which was very unique and in depth for its time, but as I do not know Japanese I have never been able to fully appreciate it.
I am sure if you are big into Japanese wrestling that this game is a must own for the Sega Dreamcast. And if you are not a fan there are more than enough famous American wrestlers that you will recognize. I think that this is quite a fun game, but if you are interested in tracking it down make sure you have a detailed guide on how to play it before you do.
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