It still amazes me that this game came out around the same time as the N64 classic I reviewed last time in the Wrestling Game Rundown, as the two games couldn’t be any different. Nitro plays like crap, looks like crap, and was far too enamoured with having small grainy videos play than actually creating a good game… or a half-decent game even. WCW vs. n.W.o World Tour on the other hand was all great gameplay, with good graphics (for the time) and a fun presentation. So, lets grit our teeth and dive headfirst into a game I only have bad memories of and was so relieved to have only rented out…
No matter how bad the game, it’s always fun to use the Jackknife Powerbomb!
WCW Nitro was released for the original Playstation in February 1998 in North America, and June that same year for Europe. It was ported across to the N64 a year later in 1999, and to the PC in mid-2000. The N64 and PC ports had a bigger roster thanks to this game’s sequel Thunder having been released and therefore it was easy to port some of the new stars over. For the sake of the roster section here though, we’ll only talk about the PS1 original that’s being reviewed…
It features Sting, Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Lex Luger, Randy Savage, Hollywood (and regular) Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, Syxx, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, The Giant, Steven Regal, and Diamond Dallas Page, plus the wrestling game debuts of Chris Jericho, Booker T., Stevie Ray, Alex Wright, Steve McMichael, Disco Inferno, Jimmy Hart, Jacqueline, Madusa, and Eric Bischoff. Yes, both Jericho and Booker made their game debuts in this atrocity…
The roster also includes some referees, some commentators, and a whole bunch of weird fantasy bollocks, like Ecto (a ghost), Bones (a literal skeleton), Whitey (a snowman), Santa Claus himself and some weird polygon thing in a Japanese school girl outfit called “Annie Mae” (I get it!) Oh and a further secret code with grant you even more characters, but they’re all the staff who worked on the game, stroking their own egos and giving themselves cool (or intentionally bad) wrestler names…*shudder*
If nothing else, this screenshot is actually happening at Nitro! Hooray!
Hmm… yeah, well, the gameplay isn’t great, to put it politely. It’s actually similar to what will be better implemented in the Acclaim PS1 games, where you put in a Mortal Kombat-style “Up-Down-Right-Square Button” combination to do a move, but unlike those two series, Nitro just has a couple of moves shared between everyone, with simple inputs like “Down and Square”, with the exception of the finishers, which at least often require two or three directions before a button press and are tailored to each superstar (with the fictional half of the roster being copies of other actual stars). Sadly while this isn’t the worst control set up, it does have the rather large drawback of being used in a really shoddy engine, where its slow, plodding and hard to actually connect with moves after you’ve inputted them. Doing a tag match? Forget it, more than two people in the ring and the game slows down to a crawl.
The A.I. is also terrible, seemingly affected by the same issues human players are in being able to actually land moves. Even on the highest difficulty you can easily get into a rhythm of a few moves, finisher, win.
The modes on offer are singles, tag and the “WCW Nitro Challenge”, where you fight a string of opponents before being declared the “Champion”. You reward is the same video being played, no matter who you played as, and an unlockable character, meaning to unlock everyone you’d have to play through this mode a whole bunch of times. No wonder they included a cheat code to unlock everyone…
Graphics and Sound:
Stupid and unnecessary? Yes, but more late 90s “can’t be arsed any more” crazy Ric Flair promos? Never a bad thing.
The graphics are pretty awful, it has to said. Jagged, blurry bodies, paper-thin ropes… given both Power Move Pro Wrestling and WCW vs. The World looked better despite having come out before this game shows just how much they missed the mark with Nitro. It’s not looking through modern eyes, the game looked bad in 1997, and looks even worse now (obviously).
Sound doesn’t fare much better. The commentary is just “This move. That move. I think he’s ready to hit the finisher. Finisher Name. Person wins!”, which compared to the soon-out WWF Warzone, is a let-down, but only just. WZ is JUST better, but it was commentary early days, so I can forgive that. The background music I can’t forgive though, given it’s the SAME TUNE every match, and that tune is … not good. Generic rock that will drive you up the wall.
Lastly in the presentation side of things, when you select your character on the character select screen you get a little promo from each wrestler (of the starting 16, anyway). It’s not necessary, and why Dean Malenko was insulting me for thinking about picking him I don’t know (seriously, why are they all promos against me? Shouldn’t they be explaining why I should pick them?) but it’s a funny gimmick. Sadly Santa Claus or the Ghost don’t cut any promos… an opportunity missed…?
Santa Claus boot-choking a dinosaur… no further caption needed.
(this shot wasn’t mine, for the record, I felt the need to find a different picture with the weird characters in…)
HATED it then. I had already played the great N64 game, and instead of getting more of what I liked, I got so… so much less. Thankfully I only rented it…
Let’s just pretend this didn’t happen and Booker T. debuted in WCW/nWo Revenge instead, shall we?
Now? It’s so bad it’s funny in some ways (especially the weird extra fantasy characters and the video promos) but it’s not fun to play, which… you know, is kind of important. Avoid at all costs.