WWF King of the Ring (Gameboy) Review

WWF KOTR

The wrestling game rundown reaches its first handheld with King of the Ring for the Gameboy, and despite never really having played it that much (I’ve never been much of a handheld gamer…), I said this would be a rundown of every wrestling game I’ve played, so… Here it is!

Background:

WWF KOTR 3

Wow, not just the chest, what’s up with Bret’s calf?

WWF King of the Ring was most prominently released on the NES in November 93 for the US, and … a hard to find exact date for the UK, but it was 1993, apparently. It was the last WWF game on the classic 8-bit system. The Gameboy version was actually released first in the US, in September 1993, but later than the NES version in the UK as it was released on the handheld at some point in 1994.

The roster actually has no debuting wrestling, with all having appeared in games before this one. The roster is Hulk Hogan (a fair few months after having left the company), Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Mr. Perfect, Razon Ramon, Yokozuna and Lex Luger for both systems, with Undertaker and Bam Bam Bigelow being exclusive to the NES version, for the record. Much like WrestleMania Challenge, there is also a “You” character you can select…

Gameplay:

WWF KOTR 4

That’s me alright! People call me “The Question”.

The gameplay in King of the Ring is very simple, even for a gameboy game. When you grapple via the old move-into-each-other tie up system you either do a bodyslam or a suplex… that’s it. No other moves, certainly no finishers, that’s all. You can also elbow someone, do a dropkick, elbow drop from the top rope and legdrop a downed opponent… and that’s the movelist! Due to this matches get repetitive… fast.

As for modes on offer, there is an equally uninspired choice. You can play “King of the Ring Mode”, which obviously sees you play the titular tournament, or you can go for the WWF Championship, which is the old gauntlet of facing each of the other wrestlers in the game in a row, or the Tag Titles, which is the same but with tag matches (and therefore shorter). You tag partner isn’t on screen during the tag matches, instead replacing you when you tag in… I guess the GB couldn’t handle more than 2 sprites on screen at once. If you have a gameboy link and a friend with a copy of the game there was a VS. mode, both singles and tag, but I didn’t have a friend with a copy of this game, and I certainly don’t now! That being said I can’t imagine it being that fun given the lack of variety in the engine…

Graphics and Sound:

WWF KOTR 1

I would say they tried with the audience in the background, but… No. Weird square-headed man literally looks like something I drew when I was 5…

The graphics are very odd looking… The actual character sprites are strangely proportioned to have really big chests, which along with the unavoidably basic faces gives the whole playing experience a weird cartoony feel. The portraits when you select a wrestler range from pretty decent to laughably bad as well. About the only thing that looks big and detailed is the KOTR logo on the title screen…

The sound isn’t the best, the background music is quite forgettable and only plays in menus (the actual wrestling is just sound effects) and the 8-bit versions of the wrestler themes range from “completely inaccurate” to “actually pretty decent attempt”, again considering the system limitations it’s not the end of the world.

Final Thoughts (Then):

WWF KOTR 2

Razor Ramon, or a generic scrolling beat ’em up enemy?

There were times where having the ability to play a wrestling game away from my bedroom TV was really cool, playing it in bed or outside… for five minutes, realising it’s not very good and then putting in one of the games that’s actually fun in my Gameboy instead…

2 Star Game Old

Final Thoughts (Now):

WWF KOTR 5

Genuinely don’t know which is which…

Now? Yeah, same thing, just without the “great to play away from my TV” bit. I played it on my old GBA for a short while, then again on an emulator for screenshot purposes, and man it gets old quick. I think I enjoyed reviewing the NES games more, though that could well have been nostalgia… or the fact they have a few more moves for variety… Anyway, I won’t be playing this again, anyway…

1 Star Game New

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