WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game Review (Sega Genesis)
It’s no secret that wrestling video games didn’t hit their stride until the Nintendo 64, and to a lesser extent, the Sony PlayStation. However, before those systems were even a thought inside my youngster brain, I was happily playing wrestling games like Nintendo’s own Pro Wrestling, WCW World Championship Wrestling – even though I wasn’t watching the product -, WWF Royal Rumble, and Saturday Night Slam Masters. On occasion, I would slip into the arcade and try my best against shady teenagers at WWF WrestleFest, but that isn’t the arcade game I’m reviewing today. Today, I’m looking at one of my all-time favourite wrestling games, WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game.
WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game was released for numerous consoles including the Super Nintendo, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, Sega Genesis, DOS, and of course, the arcade cabinet itself; I will be reviewing the Sega Genesis version.
WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game isn’t a traditional wrestling game; instead, it focuses on over the top, fast paced, arcade-like action. It was developed by Midway Games, which is probably the reason Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game plays more like a fighter than a wrestling game. Instead of slow grappling and methodic manoeuvring, you will be performing fast button combinations to pull off special moves and combos, not unlike the Mortal Kombat games. Actually, the wrestlers in this game have a realistic, digitized look much like the fighters in Mortal Kombat, so you could say that Midway’s influence was quite heavy on this title.
Speaking of wrestlers, Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game has a small roster of eight wrestlers; only six if you’re playing the Super Nintendo version. The selection is fantastic and representative of the era, which includes: Bret Hart, Shawn Micahels, Razor Ramon, Yokozuna, Lex Luger, Bam Bam Bigelow, The Undertaker, and the memorable, Doink the Clown. Each wrestler brings their own signature moves to the game, such as Ramon’s Razor’s Edge, and Hart’s Sharpshooter. Of course, each character also has outlandish moves like The Undertaker’s Down, Forward, Kick which allows you to throw spectres at your opponent. Every character also has a combo meter that builds as you lay the smack down on your opponent, after which you can unleash a devastating combo.
Drawing from the fighting genre, you need to beat your opponent until his health has been completely drained. At that point, the game screams at you to pin your opponent, or it will pin them for you. Also, you need to win the best two out of three rounds, which is unusual for a wrestling game. However, I like to think these are the best two out of three falls matches you see in wrestling.
While I find the game fun and entertaining, it disappoints with a lack of game modes. There are only Intercontinental and World Heavyweight Championship tournaments to play in the game’s single player modes. In both, you’ll fight opponents until you eventually win the championship belt; you’ll also have to endure handicap matches in these modes as well. Adding a second player will give you head to head matches, and a Tag Team version of the game’s tournament mode; the game becomes instantly better if you have access to a player 2.
Another disappointing aspect of the game is the graphics. While the digitized versions of the wrestlers do look cool, they are extremely low in resolution. The crowd is very blurry looking, to the point where I would have left them out entirely in the SNES and Genesis versions of the game. There also isn’t much to say audio wise. There is a music track that plays while you wrestle, but it’s just a generic upbeat riff that could easily be replaced by anything else. However, each wrestler is accompanied by a 16-bit version of their entrance theme song, which was always a delight for me as a kid. Vince McMahon’s voice is also heavily featured in the game on commentary, introducing the matches, and shouting wrestler names upon selection.
3/5 D-Pads: This game couldn’t touch the likes of No Mercy or the Smackdown vs. Raw series, but it is fun in its own right. I’ve always been attracted to the off the wall arcade action, which I’m happy to say still stands up today. This game could have easily been a lot better with a bigger roster and more game modes like a cage match, Royal Rumble, or even Survivor Series mode. While I’m complaining, the graphics could also use some major tweaking. Overall, WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game is a fun video game and satisfies a brawling craving I get every now and again.
Wait! Before you go, please check out the main event. “The Heartbreak Kid” vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart in a best two out a three falls match!