The Wrestling Rundown moves forward into the 16-bit era with Super WrestleMania, the first game to use the Acclaim engine that would be used for the next three games after this. Does it get off to a strong start? Erm… no, not really.
The British Bulldog makes his wrestling game debut! (MD)
WWF Super WrestleMania was released in 1992 on both the Mega Drive and the SNES, in North America at the start of the year, and in November for us here in Europe. It was the first WWF game on either platform, and kicked off a series of games by Acclaim for the systems (plus a Sega CD spin-off).
The roster features a different roster on each platform, though Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase appear on both consoles. Exclusive to the Mega Drive version were The Ultimate Warrior, Papa Shango (who believe it or not had already made a game appearance on the Master System…), I.R.S and Shawn Michaels, with British Bulldog making his video game debut on the system. The SNES version features The Legion of Doom and Earthquake, plus the video game debuts of Jake Roberts, The Undertaker, (later Psycho) Sid Justice and Typhoon.
An extremely skinny Earthquake gets thrown from the ring by the man with the skinniest legs in the world: Sid! (SNES)
The Acclaim grappling system debuting here is quite simple. When two wrestlers lock up you have to tap buttons as a tug-of-war meter appears above the wrestlers head, when the meter swings all the way in favour of one wrestler they get to execute their chosen move. You can also punch and kick people, jump off the top rope, Irish whip people, fight outside the ring, all that jazz. The Mega Drive version features finishers for the wrestlers, which is a big deal really… weird how the SNES version lacked it.
The CPU on the harder difficulties can be rather too good at the tug-of-war meter, but when you have a system like that in a game the CPU is always going to have the advantage. Otherwise, it’s perfectly playable in single player, but definitely more fun with a friend.
The modes on offer are Singles, Tag and a four-on-four Survivor Series elimination match, which acts like a Tag match but when you can switch who is on the apron or when someone is eliminated some else appears on the apron, until all members of one team is eliminated. It was quite a clever way round the limitations of the time, really. Once again the Mega Drive version has an advantage here as they have a single player mode called WWF Championship, where you have to win a series of singles matches with your chosen wrestler until you become champion. The mode is completely absent from the SNES version.
Graphics and Sound:
Console games begin to get ever closer to the ring entrances of today…
Both games are pretty similar in having thin character models on a 2D plain, with marginal detail. The colour is quite different between the two, with the MD version having a lighter blue canvas, slightly more jaggedy sprites but a more detailed audience in the background, while the SNES version’s canvas is nearly green, it looks a lot smoother but their background in nearly all black.
Before each match Howard Finkel does the ring announcing, though obviously via text boxes rather than actual speech, while portraits of the characters hang on screen. It also should be pointed out that Bobby Heenan and Vince McMahon are visible at the announce desk behind the ring, though are obviously unreachable.
The sound is fine for the era, the “oofs” and “argh!” sounds are fine, there is no background music during play or midi versions of people’s themes that would become a staple for the sequels.
Final Thoughts (Then):
Wow, they really couldn’t be bothered with the Ultimate Warrior’s facepaint, could they? (MD)
At the time I was just happy with a WWF wrestling game for my console, the Mega Drive, after having previously only had access via my brother’s NES. I liked the grapple system and the survivor series mode, but I didn’t play it a lot. At least, not compared to the two direct follow ups…
Final Thoughts (Now):
The combat is slow, the grapple system is a bit pants, and quite frankly Royal Rumble and RAW is WAR are the two MD wrestling games I played to death, so this doesn’t have much nostalgia going for it. It’s historically relevant in being the first WWF game for the 16-bit era, but it was improved on so much that going back to the first entry isn’t worth your time.