So after reviewing one of the best wrestling games ever, we get the exact opposite. Thunder was made by the same team who made Nitro, and instead of doing anything to fix the game, they just poured more bollocks into it until it completely broke. The fact this came out roughly a month after Revenge boggles the mind. I feel sorry for those who only had a PS1 back in the day and were fans of WCW. Well… Let’s have a look then…
Hollywood Hogan: The man with the squarest arse in history.
WCW/n.W.o Thunder was released in the US on January 15th 1999, with the European version coming out a few weeks later. The roster was expanded, though it still included the non-wrestling WCW staff, the game staff (ugh…) and some random made up comedy characters that are labelled as “Wackies”. A good 30 odd of the people down below are unlockable, for the record…
Still, it featured Hollywood Hogan, Sting, Bret Hart, Macho Man Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Chris Jericho, Bill Goldberg, The Giant, Diamond Dallas Page, Scott Steiner, Rick Steiner, Jim Neidhart, The British Bulldog, Curt Hennig, Booker T, Raven, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr., Ultimo Dragon, Alex Wright, Billy Kidman, Brian Adams, Buff Bagwell, Chris Benoit, Chris Kanyon, Konnan, Perry Saturn, Scott Norton, The Disciple (first time in the gimmick, but previously in as Brutus Beefcake), Wrath, Barbarian, Disco Inferno, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Fit Finley, Glacier, Juventud Guerrera, La Parka, Larry Zbysko, Lodi, Meng, Psychosis, Reese, Rick Rude, Scotty Riggs, Sick Boy, Stevie Ray, and Van Hammer.
Making their game debut is Arn Anderson (Yep, this was the game he was first a selectable fighter…), Ernest “The Cat” Miller, Horace Hogan, Public Enemy of Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock (their sole game appearance as of 2020!), Kaz Hayashi, Mike Enos (also his only game appearance, less surprisingly…), Prince Iaukea, Rick Fuller (again, only appearance, and again, it’s more surprising he had any appearance), Mongo McMichael, and Vincent (who wouldn’t make an appearance as Virgil in a game for another decade and a half!)
I liked the three-ring, 60-man World War 3 battle royals… Just saying.
The gameplay remains the same as last time: everyone has a few moves they can do by inputting basic directional and/or button combinations, you can do regular strikes, running strikes, dive off the top and ground moves, though I will stress that most moves are shared and after an hour of play you’ll have seen them all. If two people grapple at the same time they go into a test of strength, which wasn’t in Nitro but it looks really weird and janky and generally is done much better in the AKI engine… like the whole rest of the game. Also newly added are weapons you can pull out, but they’re far too overpowered. You can get a weapon, strike someone a bunch of times and pin them.
In fact, the “improvements” to the flow of the game means you can just repeatedly do the same grapple move in a loop and then pin your opponent in 30 seconds flat. It literally works like a (really crap) fighting game as when your or your opponent’s health bar reaches the red, it’s over. They will be pinned or they will instantly tap to a submission, all you have to do is attack until that happens, and as I said, it’s not hard to drain that health bar. At all.
The game modes are nearly identical. The previous game’s “Nitro Challenge” is replaced with a mode where you fight for a specific title, but it’s still just fighting people in a row, which is a game like Revenge (which has the same mode) it’s fun, in this? Nothing is fun. They added Cage Matches and Battle Royals (which can go to Royal Rumble-style timed entrances) so they did do a little bit of work… I guess. The thing that everyone points out is that the cheat codes from Nitro all work in Thunder, showing how little they actually changed anything…
So basically, it’s Nitro’s crap engine but broken. Now I regret giving Nitro a 1, it’s clearly better than this because it actually can offer a challenge if you’re willing to put up with it…
Graphics and Sound:
Bret Hart gets to cut an awkward promo on the select screen this time! … I mean, it’s not like he was best in that department anyway, let alone something like this…
The graphics are much the same as Nitro (shocker!) with half-decent textures but really bad sprites and animation. The default roster do still cut little promos on the character select screen, and they also have five seconds of footage of them making an entrance before you start a match. Still, only the default roster, which given over half the active wrestlers in the game are unlockable, that’s… not that great.
Sound is, yes, much the same. Not particularly impressive sound effects, the same generic electric-guitar heavy background music… Meh.
Man, that’s one… floaty cage, they’ve got there!
At some point in 1999 I looked at this on the shelf at Blockbuster, thought “It’ll probably be crap like Nitro… I’m really happy to continue playing Revenge and Attitude… Fine I’ll give it a try, just to see” Rented it out, played it for maybe an hour / hour and a half, never played it again until I returned it.
Ha, Dean Malenko beating up Hogan… Yeah, suffice it to say, that didn’t happen.
Now?! It’s pretty shit, to be blunt. It’s got the cheap jankyness of Nitro with a now completely broken engine. Avoid this at all costs, it’s not even fun to laugh at any more. Consider this 1 a lower 1 than Nitro got…