The Wrestling Rundown reaches an awkward game, given that while I did own it and did indeed play it back in the day, I barely remember it. I believe I got it as a surprise gift after my mum found it in a car boot sale, but it was around the same time that I was first playing WWF Royal Rumble and therefore had no interest in a one-on-one only game with made up wrestlers in it. Not that anyone would know if I’d skipped it, but I would know that I’d technically left one out, and that would annoy me, so here we are!
Painting your whole body bright pink is a unique look, that’s for sure…
As I’m sure you can tell by a single screen shot, Wrestle War was originally an arcade game, released back in 1989. The Mega drive port was released in Japan, Europe and Australia only in 1991.
The cover art was infamous changed for the English language release, as the Japanese cover had what was clearly a Hulk Hogan rip-off on the cover, so to avoid copyright claims the head was swapped out with a black-haired guy, which actually matches the in game sprite of the 1-player character, so… actually a good change!
Obviously no actual wrestlers to talk about here, though several opponents are clear copies of real people, like Hulk Hogan doppelganger “Titan Morgan”, and Don Dambuster, who is clearly a combination of both members of the Legion of Doom / The Road Warriors. Plus Mr. J, who is clearly Jason from the Friday the 13th movies, complete with cheesy dramatic playing of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony’s “Dun dun dun dunnnn” to start the match (for some reason…)
A well animated kick to the face!
Much like actual arcade game WWF WrestleFest, Wrestle War uses a tap-based grapple system, where once a grapple is initiated you have to frantically tap buttons and win a tug-of-war meter, meaning you can then do a random move like a bodyslam or suplex. As your opponent’s health goes down so does the impressiveness of your moves go up, including an inhumanly high piledriver as a finisher if your foe has no health in his bar. There is also a punch and a kick button, as well as running moves. You can also get out of the ring and use a weapon, though I failed to manage that during my time replaying it…
The biggest flaw has to be the camera. When you whip someone to the top or bottom of the screen the screen inverts suddenly with a flash, which is very disorienting. Try to avoid Irish whips at all cost…
As for modes there is the single player mode, where you play as “Bruce Blade” and have to fight through all the opponents in the game to eventually win the “Sega Wrestling Alliance” title. The 2-player mode is annoying, as Player 1 has to be Bruce Blade while Player 2 can pick any of the other wrestlers in the game…
Graphics and Sound:
Why Bruce Blade looks like Popeye when goes for a pin in unknown at this time.
Being based on an arcade game means the sprites are nice and chunky, far more detailed that the Acclaim WWF games (though they obviously have more than two wrestlers in the ring at once…) and I like the zoomed in effect, just not the camera effects…
The sound is good too, with a not-too-distorted “Welcome to Wrestle War!” voice recording at the start of a match, and some good, if not very memorable, background music.
Final Thoughts (Then):
Well, I can’t really give an accurate review for the time, because as I said, I barely played it at all. My friend said how he’d rented it out once and even showed me screenshots a few years ago, and I didn’t recognise it! It wasn’t until I saw the PAL artwork with the impossibly ripped gentleman on the front that I remembered owning it…
Final Thoughts (Now):
The territories are back, now with more bright pink Jason copies!
I do like the artstyle and the bright and chunky sprites, but at the end of the day, it’s a tapping based arcade game without nostalgia or actual wrestlers to increase my interest (which helps with the admittedly equally tapping-based Acclaim games from the same era…) Worth a quick go on, it’s not unplayable, but I won’t be playing again… not that I barely did in the first place!