Review by JPeeples
"A wrestling game that all fans of the NWA will appreciate for years to come."
WCW Wrestling was released in 1990, mere months after Ted Turner bought the National Wrestlin Alliance and changed its name to World Championship Wrestling, the game was developed by FCI. WCW Wrestling has 12 wrestlers in it, all of them have their own finishing moves. The wrestler list reads like a who’s who of the NWA, legends like “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and Sting adorn the game. As do “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Lex Luger, Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Mike Rotunda,Kevin Sullivan, Rick Steiner, the late, great “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, and the Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal (who also adorn the game's cover art.) This game introduced a menu-based move selection system in which you chose what moves you'd like to use during a match. I really love this feature because it adds an element of originality that is lacking in today's games, plus, it can be considered the forerunner to the modern-day create a wrestler modes that are ever so popular. Now then, without further ado, let's get to the review.
The gameplay of the game is quite unique. There are numerous gameplay modes in the game, from the standard singles and tag team matches, there is a progressive championship mode. In these modes you go through tiers of opponents, in the singles mode, there are three tiers, each representing a WCW singles title. The first tier is for the WCW Television title, the second tier is for the WCW United States title, and the third and final tier is for the WCW World heavyweight title, at the end of this mode, you will fight a big blue Andre the Giant knockoff called the WCW Master, he is big, and impossible to slam, but he’s not too hard, I beat him after five minutes. The tag team championship mode has two tiers of opponents, each tier represents the two WCW tag titles. The first tier represents the United States tag team titles, and the second tier represents the WCW World tag team titles. Each of these tiers, no matter if it’s singles or tag team, gets harder as you go along. Gameplay is handled via a grappling system, you grapple with your opponent, execute a button press, and presto, your move appears. All characters’ finishing moves are done from a grapple, for example, Sting’s finisher is a submission move, the Scorpion Death Lock, the move starts with Sting knocking his opponent down, and then locking in the move. This was the first licensed wrestling game to incorporate finishing moves, and it does so quite well. You can do basic things, such as punch and kick, without grappling, but they don’t do all that much damage. This was one of the few games that enabled the player to make use of the top turnbuckle, and it did so quite well, when your opponent is knocked down, you can climb the turnbuckle, and deliver a devastating high flying move. The move varied character to character; Sting, for example, uses a splash, while Michael Hayes uses a knee drop. The gameplay might not seem like much now, but it was pretty damned revolutionary for its time.
The control in the game is great. It is very responsive and never gets in the way. Finishing moves can be pulled off easily, the same can be said for all of the game’s moves. The control is very unobtrusive, which is amazing considering the fast paced nature of the game.
The graphics in the game are pretty lackluster, except for a few exceptions. I’ll start with the bad, the characters look identical, with the exception of palette-swapped pants (the characters all wear black trunks with either green, red, or blue pants) and their heads, which do look different. For example, you’ll be able to make out Sting because of his blonde hair and face paint, the same can be said for the Road Warriors, who sport odd hair cuts, and red face paint. The arena graphics are sub-par, but they get the job done, the ring is sparsely decorated, and the crowd doesn’t move. However, there is a pretty cool flashing effect when you execute a finishing move, there will be a red and while flash across the whole screen to indicate that you have done your character’s finishing move. This is a nice little touch that I really like. The menu graphics aren’t flashy, because they don’t need to be, they get the job done just fine. Move animation is pretty sparse, but, again, it gets the job done, some of the moves, most notably, the finishing moves, and the top rope attacks look great, even today.
The sound in the game is great. The title screen features Paul E. Dangerously saying “World Championship Wrestling” in a pretty clear voice. Voice effects were very, very rare in NES games, it was even rarer that any of them would be clear, but this game is the exception to the rule. The sound effects are nice, there are some neat weapon effects for the wrench that you can use when you are outside the ring, the wrench makes a vicious smashing sound that I love because it conveys the damage done by the wrench. Regular move sound effects are good, they fit the moves. On top of the flashing when you do a finishing move, and little siren-esque noise will sound signaling your execution of a finishing move. It’s little things like that make the game so fun.
The game has a nice, realistic difficulty level. The game’s difficulty varies depending on who you face, a guy like Kevin Sullivan, for example, who has a limited amount of moves at his disposal and very little resilience, is easy pickings, while a tenacious wrestler like Michael “P.S.” Hayes is tough to beat and always comes back for more. The difficulty of the WCW Master is variable, using a guy like Sting or Lex Luger, a well-rounded wrestler, will get the job done easier than using, say, Mike Rotunda, who’s arsenal of attacks is grapple based.
The game has a ton of replay value, there are no secrets, but the game is just plain old fun to play.
The gameplay is addictive and will get you hooked.
Overall, WCW Wrestling is one of the finest wrestling games for the NES, the graphics are a mixed bag, and knock my score down a bit, but the sound is amazing, and the gameplay is super-addictive. I whole-heartadly recommend a purchase of this game. It packs in tons of fun and is a game that you will never forget. This is the only game to ever feature each member of the NWA's Varsity Club. It is also the first game to feature ''Hot Stuff'' Eddie Gilbert. This game is also noteworthy because it is the only one to ever feature both ''The Nature Boy'' Ric Flair, and Ricky ''The Dragon'' Steamboat in one game. Classic Flair/Steambot matches can only be officially recreated in this game.Fans of the NWA will love this game, if, for no other reason, than for it's roster that captures the spirit of the NWA in it's prime.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/25/01, Updated 03/11/02
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