WrestlingMania Mania!!: Pro Wrestling (NES) 8/10

Nesprowrestlingbox

 I’m a huge wrestling fan, always have been since my childhood, and on the eve of the biggest night in professional wrestling, what better time than now to take a look at the first wrestling I’ve ever played, simply titled Pro Wrestling. That’s right to the point, isn’t it? Reminds me of those Atari and Intellivision games that were one compound word titles or even less. Wrestling games have had a rollercoaster ride in simulating grappling in the squared circle and long before THQ spent years of trying to craft play mechanics that weren’t repetitive as hell and collision detection that resulted in cheap wins for the CPU, Pro Wrestling (and for that matter some of the 16 bit titles) a simple control scheme that in hindsight was pretty advanced for its time that made for entertaining play.

Prowrestling gameplay

  VISUALS 7/10: When I was 8 years old, I was very amazed at the amount of detail that was paid attention to in this game. The play-by-play and color commentator in the back, positioned like Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness (except they’re sitting in the crowd?) to the camera man capturing the action, it felt at the time like a big deal to see the 8 bit system provide such an aesthetic. The WWE games today don’t even feature cameramen!! Even the ref is quick on his feet, following the action, though he does not stop The Amazon from using his super illegal Head Bite, so he’s a TNA IMPACT official from the Vince Russo days. Each wrestler has a unique look, from the incredibly tan Giant Panther to StarMan, a luchadore who I think is wearing a full body purple suit. The animation is great and includes nice touches, like wrestlers colliding after botched Irish Whips (that does get annoying, more on that later) and individual animations for each of the characters’ signature moves, except for Fighter Hayabusa’s Back Brain Kick, which is just his kick-out animation of him falling on his ass. For its simplicity and age, Pro Wrestling is still pretty cool to look at and beats the ever-living hell out of Data Easts’ Tag Team Wrestling, a horrible disappointment I rented with my own allowance money one weekend, thinking it would be as cool.

Vince: "Oh come on, How did the ref not see that!?"Jesse: "That's a headbutt, McMahon! Panther uses the same move and you don't call that foul play!!"

Vince: “Oh come on, How did the ref not see that!?”
Jesse: “That’s a headbutt, McMahon! Panther uses the same move and you don’t call that foul play!!”

CONTROLS 6.5: The controls are pretty iffy at first until you begin to get the hang of its quirks. Most of the time the melee attacks never land when you would like them to (timing that spinning back kick is something I still can’t consistently do on purpose) and often you and your opponent will fall into a Rock’em’ Sock’em’ deal where you’ll stand there and punch back and forth until one of you falls down. Attacking while running requires a clearance space of about a character’s length away and on the same vertical plain in order for the clothesline or the Harley Race/Triple H High Knee to land. Probably the two worst examples of all are Hayabusa’s previously mentioned BBK Enzuigiri and Kin Corn Karn’s Mongolian Chop. Hayabusa’s Kick involves standing just below your opponent and hitting the kick button. The success rate of this move dips the more you try to land it and your friend catches on. To land it, slap the controller out of your friend’s hand and as he scrambles to pick it up, nail the BBK for the 3 count. This only works a few times, as you will run out of friends to play Pro Wrestling with. I made up my own secondary finisher; two top rope knee presses followed by a big splash off the top rope!!

Annoying to pull off, but I admit, it is kind of worth it.

Annoying to pull off, but I admit, it is kind of worth it.

 The grappling, on the other hand, is still one of the better control schemes in wrestling games in my humble opinion. With one D pad and two red buttons, you can pull of a good array of moves like body slams, back and front suplexes, piledrivers, as well as finishers. May not sound like a lot, but the fluidity of how easy it is to execute these is pretty impressive. You can suplex or slam your opponent over the ropes (OW!!) and with timing, get a running start and launch yourself over the ropes for a suicide body press on to the floor!! You know, the crazy bumps that Dolph Ziggler regularly takes every week. The grappling just makes the game absolutely fun to work with and a good reason why replay value is so much fun and makes up for any shortcomings control-wise.

Outside the ring

DIFFICULTY 8.5/10 (King Slender 9/10): To beat the game, you must play through it twice. Once, to win the VWA Championship from the game’s biggest heel King Slender, then you have to successfully defend your title by beating all challengers again until challenging Great Puma, who sells moves about the same degree as John Cena does. King Slender has to win TEN matches (in some copies of the game, allegedly. I think everyone just hates King Slender) before getting the title shot, so his path is three times as hard. I have only gotten to Great Puma a couple of times and beaten him even fewer times than that!! He has everybody else’s moveset and takes a long time to wear down. I can only beat him by count out, and even then, I time it so he doesn’t reverse my whip into the guard rails, which is trickier to pull off than you think.

Second playthrough

PROS: Great characters, solid grappling scheme, fun two player game, that music will get stuck in your head

CONS: Kin Corn Karn. Who picks this guy??

MY PERSONAL REAL WRESTLER COUNTERPARTS

Fighter Hayabusa – Davey Richards of ROH

Starman – Magno of Lucha Libre USA

Giant Panther – Hulk Hogan/Kerry Von Erich

The Amazon – Abyss of TNA

Kin Corn Karn – Kenzo Suzuki from his 2005 WWE run

King Slender – Triple H

Couldn't go the whole post without this

Couldn’t go the whole post without this

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About ColonelFancy

Comedy writer, video game reviewer, retro gaming enthusiast, artist and cartoonist, otaku. Advocate of science, logic, and reasoning.
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