The rundown begins! In the first part of the soon-to-be-ongoing series, we look at Tecmo World Wrestling on the NES. It has to be said here that I never owned the iconic and simply named Pro-Wrestling (among other 8-bit and handheld wrestling games) and so it will be missed out here. Once it gets to the 16-bit era and beyond I brought pretty much every game in the Wrestling genre released here in the UK (and a few that weren’t!), so the Wrestling Rundown will start being a general rundown rather than my personal rundown quite quickly. Anyway, without further ado…
Notable Russian Boris Chekov throwing up the Texas Longhorns sign…
Tecmo World Wrestling was released here in the UK November 1990, a full seven months after its US release, and over a year after it arrived in Japan.
The game features several firsts, most notably it was the first to feature in-game commentary, via a bunch of (sometimes badly translated) speech bubbles by “Tom Talker”. It was also the first game to feature action cut-scenes of moves during gameplay.
The plan is to feature the roster here and point out who made their wrestling game debut in it, but the game uses only fictional characters so there goes that (look forward to it in the future!) It has to be said that many of them are clearly based on actual real-life wrestlers, from US stars like Hogan and Flair, to Japanese stars like Antonio Inoki and Tiger Mask, although often with different finishing moves. Still, that doesn’t count!
Or Sharpshooter, whichever…
The in-game action is pretty simple (as you’d imagine), as you and your opponent walk into each other, it starts a grapple. Whoever presses a combination of a button and a direction will get the move on first (well, most of the time…) There are several impact, pin and submission moves that can be done from this position, as well as the ability to throw people to the ropes. You can also punch, kick, do ground moves (which range from knee drops to submission holds) and jump off the top rope or battle on the outside when not grappling each other.
That’s the run down, but I will say a lot of the time the button presses either don’t quite register, or the CPU has some sort of advantage sometimes. I’d guess the latter, because in earlier stages on single player I can dominate quite easily, but then as you get closer to the boss it becomes a struggle.
That reminds me, the single player mode is a gauntlet of the other wrestlers leading to a fight with the unplayable final boss. In the middle of these matches you can train and gain strength by participating in simple button tapping mini-games. The higher your strength, the more damage your moves do.
The multi-player is a little different in that it has a momentum meter that swings between player 1 and 2, and whomever it’s pointing at will have the advantage in the grapple. Otherwise, it plays the same.
Graphics and Sound:
Ah yes, the Northern Right Suplex, much better than the Left one?
The graphics are nice and clear, with that 8-bit smooth but undetailed charm. I think it has the edge over the other 8-bit game I played (WWF WrestleMania Challenge, up next!), though the black dialogue box obscures half of the ring, so it loses in match presentation to WWF. Obviously if your going to compare it to something else from a era above this then it’s going to look bad, but… why would you do that?
The sound is great, or I should say the background music is great, because this game features no sound effects, just some very catchy BGM. Seriously, listen to it on youtube, it’s really good!
Final Thoughts (Then):
This was the first Wrestling game I ever played, and although it was before I became a mega-fan of the pseudo-sport, I still liked it, and loved playing this game. I have a fond memory of playing this with friends in what was probably my first friends-from-school-at-my-house Birthday party. With nothing else to compare it too, this was the best, though I will say when WWF WrestleMania Challenge arrived the following year, it became less played… by a large margin.
Final Thoughts (Now):
This is how the actual Tiger Mask worked out!
It’s not a great experience now, I’ll admit. Nostalgia glasses off, it took a long time to get a hang of the controls, and even when I did I got hit a lot without really knowing why. The graphics are still fun though, especially the cut scenes, which still look nice and clear even now, so it wasn’t horrible to look at. It’s funny after playing a LOT of Fire Pro-Wrestling in the past ten years, this game used a similar control scheme, though far more primitive and restricting (obviously).
I also had a lot of fun picking who the characters clearly are, now I’m a 30 year old fan of all wrestling, rather than a 5 or 6 year old who vaguely knows some of the top WWF stars he’s seen his brother watch.
Over all, I don’t recommend playing it, especially if you have no nostalgia towards it.