Thursday, September 11, 2008

This is so Pro Wrestling

Finally, I am able to discuss Pro Wrestling, the most brutal game on the NES. For the past week or so I've largely been out of power thanks to hurricane Gustav, but civilization rebuilt and blog posts continue.

Pro Wrestling is one of the more popular titles on the NES, but it's actually a pretty terrible game (wait! don't stop reading here, you'lll still want to play this cart, unless you are a girl, then, based on my experience, you'll probably hate it). The palette is awful, the crowd graphics and ring are awful. I suspect they literally threw up on a computer and started picking palette colors at random. A fifth of the screen is pink, a fifth is gray, and the rest is a chaotic mess of amateur pixilation. Most of the graphics consist on solid colors, with no shading or detail, the crowd, judges, referee, and cameraman look like shit, and the wrestler's animations are choppy at best.

But graphics aren't everything, as we all know. The gameplay and characters are the redemption that keeps this rushed project from the dumpster. Each fighter has a few unique skills, a backbreaker or karate kick or a crazy flip. But you'll pick your fighter based on how cool they are, because, hey, who gives a fuck. Want to be Starman, the crowd favorite high-flying acrobat luchadore (who wears a pink jumpsuit)? Or King Slender, the golden boy with the brutal backbreaker (Protip: use King Slender to beat the game, you can abuse his backbreaker move from the beginning of a match, it hardly ever fails and does as much damage as backbreakers would in real life. Well, slightly less considering you have to do more than one). Kin Corn Karn can karate chop and kick. Fighter Hayabusa can kick people in the face if he is slightly lower and to the left of the opponent (and he's just terrible). The Amazon is a mutant who has the ability to stab people in the face with a fork (not making that up) and the villian of the game. The crowd never cheers for that jerk. Giant Panther, the politically correct head-butting black guy.

And if you manage to win 16 matches, you'll have the chance to defend your title once and for all against the Great Puma, a wrestler that surpasses all abilities. He can perform any wrestling move at any time, and he will kick your ass. Great Puma has quite the reputation for being a nigh-unbeatable boss from the 8-Bit glory days, but the backbreaker will end his triumphant reign.

The most surprising aspect of this game, however, is that the same system is being sed in games today (Fire Pro Wrestling Returns comes to mind). Grapple and opponent, then quickly perform a throw (or suplex, piledriver, etc). Pro Wrestling has carved legacy in wrestling games, and that's got to stand for something.

I never played Pro Wrestling as a kid. In fact, I played it once about 6 months ago and then forgot about it. The game truly appears terrible at a first glance. I was looking for some multiplayer games to bring over to my girlfriend's house for a party, and stumbled upon Pro Wrestling. What the hell? So my friend and I began beating the shit out of each other, mashing buttons, jumping off ropes, pile-driving, suplexing, punching, kicking, and something just... clicked. I'm sure we've all had that Joycean epiphany where a video game suddenly becomes fun and memorable. Unfortunately, females just hate this game. If anyone has anecdotal evidence otherwise, feel free to share.

Then hurricane Gustav hit and pretty much everyone in the state lost power. It was a strange feeling, wanting to play Pro Wrestling, and average game at best, but not having power. I could have yearned to play hundreds of video games, but, no, I wanted to play this one. Eventually, I did get to beat it at my girlfriend's house, which took a couple hours, and my interest has largely subsided, and I've moved on to other games (specifically Final Fantasy XII: Revenent Wings and Twilight Princess, expect a Legend of Zelda article in the near future), but Pro Wrestling was a fun title to play for a few days, and I think anyone can have some good times with this cart. Funny though, how if not for the weather I may have forgotten about this game entirely, but (especially after posting this) instead I will probably always have a few good memories about Pro Wrestling. Especially the only song in the game. After hours of playing... I've got the damn thing memorized. Overall, Pro Wrestling provides a solid single, or multi, player experience.

Oh, and I almost forgot.


Anonymous said...

this game can't be that terrible. nintendo power highlighted it as a classic retro game not too long ago. ;) i do remember playing it as a kid though so i'll have to pick it up sometime. that fish guy still cracks me up!

Anonymous said...

This is so NOT pro wrestling. this game really isn't that bad, and i agreed with most of everything you said... a few other problems can be found in the game however. for example, no matter how you try to play it off, the game is a button mashing fuck fest. Still, lots of fun to kick your friends ass at a game this retro.

James Dziezynski said...

For an early "black box" title, I think Pro Wrestling is a blast--and I'd even argue it's the most enjoyable wrestling game on the NES. Taken in 1987's context, I remember having a lot of fun with the colorful characters and figuring out the assorted moves. And it's light years better than any of the other WWF/WCW games for the systems (Tecmo Wrestling is the only other one I kind of liked).

In retrospect it hasn't aged well, which is probably why you are a bit more biased to it being a stinker and I'm a bit more biased to liking it. I think it's a good addition to any NES collection, though not in my top 25 best games by any means.

8bitcity said...

I think I did something wrong... do you guys get the impression that I don't like this game? It's poorly made, has no aesthetic consideration (aside from the character portraits) and can't even manage to palette-swap the ring every now and then. Overall, I guess it is a disappointment...the game could have been much much better, but there is a truckload of good gameplay.

Techmo World Wrestling is another fun title, and shows a level of polish a step-above Pro Wrestling. Ugly characters keep it from being memorable. But overall its a better game than Pro Wrestling. Still, it feels bland.

And I completely agree, almost every other NES Wrestling game is pure garbage.

Take note, game designers.

Benjamin Fennell said...

A Winner Is You made this game immortal. Never did play it, though. I'll have to look into it sometime.

Anonymous said...

I don’t like it.
The lack of change of setting makes it monotonous, and you look like you are TRYING to break my controllers when you play it at my place.
Oh, and also I am afraid that by liking a game about pro-wrestling you might become a hillbilly or gay and leave me for a sweaty body-builder.

Anonymous said...


So THAT'S where "A winner is you!" comes from, eh?

I remember seeing the stat screen of Starman in an old Nintendo Power magazine I think. Other than that, I've never played this gem.