Sega Mega Drive
Wrestle War is a very interesting game in that for some odd reason it was never released in the USA on the Sega Genesis. Here in the UK it was one of those games that you would see everywhere. It would eventually make its way to the USA when it was released as part of a compilation called the Sega Smash Pack on the Dreamcast. This was also one of those games that appeared to be in the majority of arcades I went to as a kid.
The most interesting thing about Wrestle War though is the Japanese box art. This game was clearly intended to be game with real wrestlers at some point. You clearly have Hulk Hogan on the box and the fictional wrestlers in the game are based on real wrestlers. So who knows, maybe this is the reason that the game never made it to USA shores as they were scared to be sued. I have heard over the years that Sega were just going to make Wrestle War a game that featured WWF and WCW wrestlers, but they decided against it because they were scared of getting sued. This has never been confirmed, but when you look at that Japanese box art there is no getting away from the fact that they have Hulk Hogan on there.
This game looked incredible in 1991 when you think that the NES was its only competition for wrestling games, and at the time this game was just mind blowing. It has big chunky sprites and some really well animated wrestling moves as well. You only play as one wrestler, a guy called Bruce Blade. I have always thought that he looked like WWF legend Bob Backlund.
The lineup of wrestlers that you face is pretty cool. Titan Morgan is clearly supposed to be Hulk Hogan, Don Dambuster is modeled after Hawk from the Road Warriors. These two are the most notable ones. But also the other characters in the game are based on such wrestlers as Stan Hansen and Abdullah The Butcher both of whom were huge stars in Japan. So while this was maybe not going to be a WWF game, it was clearly going to use real wrestlers.
The single player mode has a map of the USA and you go around each territory to take on the champion of that organization. It is a nice little story mode and it had some cool little quotes from the wrestlers. The game will change camera angles every now and again. This can be really awkward when you first play the game, but after a while you know what moves will trigger this and you do get used to it.
The game play of Wrestle War is pretty basic, but at the end of the day it was ported from an arcade game. You have a punch and kick and when you walk in close to your opponent you will grapple. The way that you win a grapple is by pressing the buttons as fast as you can. This is pretty brutal on your fingers so a turbo controller is a great investment.
There is not a great deal of moves, but for the time frame there was more than enough to keep me happy. One really cool thing was the super pile drive that you could do. If your opponent was damaged enough you would execute a pile diver where you would leap high above the ring. As a kid first time I saw this I was amazed, and spent the next hour trying to figure out how the heck I did it. You cannot go on the top rope which is pretty weird, but you can exit the ring and hit your opponent with a steel box which I always loved to do.
There is not a great deal of replay value to the game and once you have beaten it that is really all there is to it. The two player mode is pretty fun, but player one never gets to pick a wrestler, and they always have to be the default Bruce Blade. Player two though gets to pick whoever they want so you would have to take turns being player two.
Overall I think this is a pretty solid arcade style wrestling game. I still find it odd that it was not released in the USA when you consider how hot wrestling was in the early 90’s. If you are a wrestling fan then it is really worth having a copy of the Japanese version just for the awesome box art. Also I would say that I prefer the Sega Mega Drive version to the arcade.
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