Plataform: Nintendo NES
Controller: Default of the console
Wrestling, not to be confused with the Olympic Event, which provides the basics for this discipline (there is no consensus if it can be considered sport or not), very popular in some countries where videogames are common, and if this we add the colourful and spectacularity of the show, it was a firm candidate to appear in videogames around the world.
In Japan, the discipline is quite popular, so the company Nintendo chooses to include in its catalog some videogames about it. The title which is the subject of this entry is not the first videogame about wrestling for the console, but probably is the first one liked both by critics and videogamers.
The game allows the player to choose between many different wrestlers, where every one has a different wrestling style, with different strengths and weaknesses. A view of the ring sligthly inclined is featured, where you can appreciate the action, the matches are singular combat only. The goal is to beat your opponent in a 5-minute match, either by softening your rival via punches, kicks or moves until he is at the mat looking at the sky for 3 seconds, usually you can achieve this goal pinning your rival forcing him to be in the floor for that time.
Another way to win is getting your rival out of the ring for 20 seconds and not entering the ring again, so you have to be out of the ring also, and hit him to maintainning him in the floor, but there is a risk, because if both wrestlers are out of the ring for 20 seconds, the player also loses the fight.
An interesting feature to the game is a referee, who is in charge in realizing the count of seconds to determine who is the winner of the combat. This referee gives a realistic touch to the game, because he is constantly near of the action. Another funny touch are the anchormen who react to the moves of the wrestlers and/or situations of the match, and the cameraman who is really aware (or at least most of the time) of the action in the ring.
The videogamer controls his wrestler moving around the ring using the pad of the controlelr, with a button you throw a punch, and with other a kick. If both wrestlers are standings and touch, they begin a struggle which can end in two possible ways:
- One of the wrestlers applies a move to the other. This can be done pressing the pad in a direction, and pressing the kick button. Every wrestler can apply different moves from according to its strengths and weaknesses. Some moves only can be applied if the rival is weak enough, or if it is in certain position. It’s for the reader to find out which moves are performed by which wrestler, since it’s part of the fun of playing this game
- One of the wrestlers throws its rival to the ropes pressing left or right and the punch button, and after that, press two times the same direction in the pad to pursue its rival. And after, if you press a button at the right time, you can hit the rival. If not, well, both wrestlers crash and fell to the mat.
It’s possible to pick up a fallen rival with the punch button to the purpose of hitting him or applying him a move. Or with the kick button pinning it trying to get the winning count of 3 seconds. The last move of the game is climbing the ring’s corner to jump towards your fallen rival either with your knees or trying to pin him. Consider that if your rival is strong enough, can roll and get out of the way, so the move can be harmful to you.
The game has three goals: the first one is beating each of the other five wrestler which the player can choose to get the championship of the fictious VWA (Video Wrestling Association). Once you reach that goal, comes the seconds, which is to defend the virtual title 10 consecutive times against the wrestlers, so, you must face each wrestler 2 times. Get into account that after every defense, the next rival is stronger and requires more hits to beat, and the other way around, it requires less to beat you. Don’t forget the, probably less honourable way, but perfectly legal, way of winning throwing you rival out of the ring.
The last mission is to face the final wrestler, Great Puma, which we’ll detail a bit later, for the unification with the title of the, also fictious, VWF (Video Wrestling Federation). I’ll only say that this guy can use absolutely every move available from all the wrestlers in the game.
The 7 available wrestlers in the game are modeled after popular real ones from the 80s, we’ll call this model an archetype. For copyright reasons, it was not possible to use their real names, but there was no problem using their particular skills to give the player a sense of familiarity with different wrestling styles. Also mentioned are the real wrestlers in which we believe the wrestlers of the game are based upon, in case the reader is interested in finding more about them.
|Coming from Japan. Generic fighter useful for rookies. It can perform a difficult move, but really effective.||Antonio Inoki|
|Representing Mexico, a classic acrobatic luchador which can be somewhat weak when compared to the rest. Popular with the virtual audience of the match.||Mil Máscaras|
|Venerable wrestler with legend status with few, but really strong, moves. Recommended for more advanced players.||Killer Khan (with elements from Rikkidōzan)|
|Coming from the United States. Muscle bound and tan skin dude which relies heavily on strong moves at the expense of speed.||Hulk Hogan|
|Foreign masked wrestler coming from an unknown country with moves considered bloody and questionable. Really good once you get its pace.||Abdullah The Butcher (although he didn’t use masks)|
|Blond and haired wrestler froem the United States, which sports devastating and technical moves.||Ric Flair|
|Great Puma. All-mighty masked dude really hard to beat. This wrestler is not available to the player.||Tiger Mask|
The game originally was published for the Famicom Disk System, known as ProWres – Famicom Wrestling Association without meaningful differences.
There is also a game with the same name for the GameBoy, but it’s not related to this game.
The game’s mechanics which allows the player to choose fighters with different features became in time a defacto standard for future fighting videogames, where exists a “protagonist” usually well-balanced to allow new players to enter the game without too much frustration. The rest of the fighters shine in a particular skill at the expense of another (a common example is a stronger but slower fighter, or the other way around) which requires more knowledge of the game to better progress in it. Probably there were other games prior to this one implementing this way of playing.
The game is famous for the appearance of Engrish, very common in the first translated games from Japan to be sold in western countries. While it does not appear in all the game, where it does is really known.
Due to the TV boom of lucha libre (mexican wrestling) in my country, it was logical to try my luck in wrestling videogames. I became quite proficient with the masked wrestlers, but I had to use first during the more generic Fighter Hayabusa the earlier fights on the game.
I really liked the versatility of moves applied, which IMO, must be present in every wrestling videogame. The idea of fight 16 matches can be a bit tedious, but it gives enough time to try different techniques and strategies which can be helpful facing the final boss.
Sport Icon designed by Smashicons of FlatIcon licensed by CC 3.0 BY.
Console Icon taken from Retroarch.
Thanks to Twitter users Los Coliseínos and Squishington for their help guiding, and/or correcting, in identifying some of the archetypes used as models for the wrestlers.