An arcade game is next up on the wrestling rundown, the only one, in fact. Thanks to the lovely MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) I have spent a couple of hours replaying this fond memory… without spending any money! Hooray! Let’s take a look…
I’m trying to get up! Stupid bossy … yellow glove?
WWF WreslteFest was released to arcades in 1991 worldwide, and was a sequel to WWF Superstars, which was released in arcade in 1989 (that I never played).
THQ released a remake of the game, titled WWE WrestleFest, in 2012 on IOS and Android, but when THQ went bankrupt the game never made it to consoles and Steam as planned, and in fact I can’t find it on IOS any more either, so it may be lost in time forever.
The roster features Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Ted DiBiase, Big Boss Man, and Jake Roberts, plus the game debuts of Mr. Perfect (WWF Superstars for Gameboy was released in 1991 as well featuring him, so it’s one or the other depending on your country), Earthquake, Sgt. Slaughter, and Smash and Crush of Demolition, plus Animal and Hawk of the Legion of Doom are unplayable characters (well, unless a second player joins in when you’re fighting them).
The blue bar steel cage! It’s a classic, and rarely features in games…
The gameplay is pretty straightforward, with each character having four standing moves (two to begin with, then two new ones when the opponent he’s grappling has low enough health) when he locks up in classic “walking into the opponent starts the grapple” fashion. You can also punch and kick, do running moves and ground moves, including submissions. Each character has a finisher that does more damage than any other move they do, but it’s just part of the regular moveset rather than any special command. There are also weapons you can pick up and use outside of the ring.
The game gives you two modes to pick from, the first of which is “Saturday Night’s Main Event”, where you run a gauntlet of tag team matches with your chosen team until you face the Legion of Doom, then you run the same gauntlet again as champions before you complete the game. One or more of the matches takes place in a steel cage, for the record, complete with whipping your opponent into the cage for extra damage.
Then you have the reason I poured so much money into the cabinet, “Royal Rumble”, where you compete in the classic match up, with up to six people in the ring at once (in fact it starts with six!), though unlike the real match up you can be eliminated by pin, submission or being thrown over the top rope.
Graphics and Sound:
Sadly the classic theme song doesn’t play during Mr. DiBiase’s entrance…
The graphics are nice and bright, with large character sprites. It really draws your eye walking by the machine. The presentation is great, with little animated clips and stuff from the wrestlers in the SNME mode, and animated little corner screen videos of the wrestlers making their entrance in the Rumble mode.
Likewise the sound is good, the matches in the SNME mode having ring announcing by Mike McGuirk before the match, and both modes have in-game commentary, even if it is just basic like “Mr. Perfect – Atomic Drop!” and “Hawk – Disqualified!”, the latter playing if anyone is eliminated in the Rumble (well, with Hawk replaced by whoever has been eliminated, and yes, Disqualified is the wrong word, but whatever…) The little clips mentioned have voicework by Gene Okerlund as well.
The actual background music isn’t memorable, but it is fitting and doesn’t take anything away from the action.
Final Thoughts (Then):
Back when I first played it, it was amazing. This was pre-Royal Rumble on the MegaDrive / SNES, so this was my first time playing my favourite match type in a game. The big colourful sprites were also impressive to my only-seen-8-bit / early 16-bit eyes. The only problem came from the fact I was pretty bad at it, I used to get defeated pretty easily and would soon run out of patience, or money… or both.
Final Thoughts (Now):
A pin? In the Royal Rumble?! Madness!!
Playing now it’s still fun to run through a Rumble, and I completed the tag team SNME mode for the first time, but then I’m not spending any money, instead I had my laptop hooked up to my TV and I was putting in more money by pressing the select button on my PC controller. Due to this, the special feeling of playing it had gone, and within an hour I had done all there is to do in the game. It really is just an arcade game in the truest sense, it’s there to take your money, remove that and it’s just a quick experience, fun, but doesn’t hold your interest for very long.