Review by souledge 316

"1......2.....Spike!!"

After all the delays, all the internet drama, and lack of updates & info, Spike's long awaited wrestling masterpiece finally hits the Playstation 2 and meets all the expectations of a great Japanese wrestling game.

Spike's plan is simple, a game that captures the realism, the action and the true feeling of Puroresu, while at the same time, perhaps for the first time ever, uniting the biggest names of the 2 major Japanese federations, All Japan and New Japan Pro Wrestling, with their accurate likeness, moves, and entrances complete with themes. But it doesn't end there as the other 2 remaining big name feds, NOAH and Zero-One will join All Japan and New Japan when the next installment of King Of Colosseum is released on February 2003. Both games will somehow connect and interact to give you control of those 4 federations and have cross promotional matches between wrestlers, although details are still sketchy. A Puro fan's dream indeed.

Graphics- Starting with the character models, the graphics are truly outstanding, as they do a great job of depicting the bulky and rough Japanese wrestler look, and while Spike went with a more simplified style for character models as opposed to the ''photo realistic, add ever wrinkle, wart, or mole on the wrestler's real life body'' approach that other games use, you will have no trouble recognizing all your favorite wrestlers as their faces, attires and appearances are dead on and realistic. Now comes the only flaw on this category, the crowd. Like in Fire Pro and many other games, King Of Colosseum features the flat, 2D, sometimes pixelated crowd. While it doesn't really bother me during actual gameplay and matches, during entrances when the wrestler walks down the ramp, you can really notice the flat looking crowd. Every other detail, like arenas, rings and their mats, and banners look great and really makes you feel like you're on the Tokyo Dome. 8/10

Control- The control is simple, well layed out and makes use of every button on the PS2 flawlessly. 3 of the 4 face buttons(square, circle, and x) are used to strike(holding a direction on the pad will result in a different strike with each button), while triangle used to run. L1 is used for breathing and regaining stamina(a feature very popular on the Fire Pro series), R1 is your Clutch or Grapple button, R1 counters and blocks strikes(similar to the AKI games, while R3(right analog) is used to taunt in 4 different ways/directions. You can use both the Pad or L3(Left Analog) to move your character. 10/10

Sound- The sound is not King Of Colosseum's strongest point. While it features a lot of the wrestler's actual grunts, groans and screams, other samples like walking on the ring, a few slaps/chops and the traditional Spike/Fire Pro meat grinding sound used in submissions leave a lot to be desired. Most of the big name wrestlers like Mutoh/Muta, Chono, Lyger, and Nagata etc. have their real life trademark entrance themes, while the lesser known wrestlers will have to settle for instrumental versions of their music. The crowd sounds very accurate but in some cases it goes very quiet and then explodes out of nowhere for simple moves. Commentary can be very fun and its straight, to the point and with different moods and excitement, but once you have heard all of the moves and variations being performed(which might be a while) You will start to get tired, still in my opinion it adds a nice feeling. 7/10

Gameplay- Since I already highlighted the basic controls, let's talk about the grappling engine, one of the deepest, most realistic and challenging ones I've ever seen in a wrestling game. It rewards careful, skilled, patient players, and punishes flashy and desperate ones. Like said earlier R1 is the clutch/grapple button, you hold it and while doing so, press any of the 4 face buttons to lock up and opponent into a different clutch, but 4 buttons? how are they different you ask? Well, they are not your average, Aki-style grapples. While the Aki style one is featured in, the others have their own purpose and open a different repertoire of moves. Think of them as start up positions, for example, one clutch might put you and your opponent in a suplex-like position that will open up the chance to execute any suplex based attacks. Don't get it yet? Ok, here's the thing. You go into the suplex clutch/position, then from there you have to press one of the 4 face buttons(which by themselves are used for striking) and you will perform a move. The button you press will determine what move you perform, for example, Square moves are usually the weaker ones, like a kick, elbow, or knee to the gut, the X button is used for medium moves like a snap suplex or a simple vertical suplex, while Circle and Triangle are used for the stronger moves like a brainbuster etc. Same goes for all the different clutches/positions(which are a lot of different ones for arm, leg, belly to belly, powerbomb, front head lock etc.). Another factor on performing moves is the timing. When you go into a clutch/position, you will get a clue by the wrestler's movement and the sound of their feet taping the mat on when to properly press the button for the move to be performed effectively. Too early or too late will result in your opponent reversing the moves. Speaking of reversals, the game's counter and reversal system is as accurate as real life, with many different ways situations to counter every move in the game, that's right, every move. For example one wrestler may counter the powerbomb with a backdrop or a hurricanrana, while others may counter by escaping with a kick or grabbing the opponent's leg and performing a dragon screw, and that's just a few of the counters available. They will vary depending on the button you press(you use square, x and circle) and the type of wrestler you are using. The striking counter reversal system resembles the Aki games a lot, if you press R2 before your opponent strikes you'll just block the attack, while pressing it at the exact time the strike connects will result in you countering it with either a strike of your own, submission, a spin that puts you in a german suplex position, or just simply the good ol' lariat block used frequently in New and All Japan. Some wrestlers also have character specific counters that they have used in real life, which is a cool detail. The submission system is everything you can hope for and a breath of fresh air for those who are disappointed with the American wrestling games. The longer the match goes on the longer submissions are held on, so no need to worry about 2-3 second submissions, not even early in the match. But be careful cause submissions can also be countered into pins and sometimes even another submission itself. Since there are a few of shoot style and mixed martial arts wrestlers and fighters, there is also a shoot mode and shoot style rules. Let's just say that the shoot fighting is a whole separate game of its own with counters, strikes, reversals, KOs and submissions. Speaking of KOs, the traditional Fire Pro Wrestling Criticals are back, where you either KO and opponent or beat them to a bloody pulp(yes there is blood)until they can't continue. The gameplay pace is perfect, not too slow or not too fast, but for those who are speed freaks you can adjust the speed to a faster setting right before the match. Like I said before, the game features one of the best, realistic and challenging gameplay engines ever that will take more than just a few minutes to completely master, exploit and used to the max. 10/10

Content- Lots of modes to choose from. Exhibition single or tag, exhibition shoot style rules(with KOs, submission and different round style rules)Trial Road(season) Battle Royal, Series Match(which includes New Japan G1 single and tag point based tournaments, and All Japan's Champion Carnival), Edit/Create Mode and Belt Defense, where you can defend all of the federations championship belts once you have unlocked/won them in Trail Road. Trial Road is sort of a 1 year-1 year and 2 months season. You choose a federation(All Japan, New Japan, Best Of The Juniors, and Valetudo(shoot) then pick one of the wrestlers from that federation to challenge all of the other wrestlers in that same federation and win championship belts. Besides belts, you can also unlock and fight against hidden wrestlers or fight legendary wrestlers like Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, Dynamite Kid & many more and unlock their appearances and movesets for the Edit Mode. Trial Mode works like this, you get a weekly schedule and wrestle, now depending on how you wrestled and won that match, you will earn points which are used for when you need to train or purchase items that will heal different attributes of your wrestler. When you train you play sort of a Blackjack game, if you reach 21 or a number higher that you training partner(without going over 21) you win and earn experience, you have to balance your training between 5 different categories. Training and wrestling takes a lot from you, so you need to purchase items that will heal your body, replenish your stamina and keep you fresh and in top shape, fun eh? Edit Mode is everything you can expect from a Spike game. It borrows a lot from Fire Pro and while there is no face editing(you only choose from about 250 heads) you can edit the hair, skin and eye color. So if you are creative and have time you can create some pretty accurate wrestlers that are not in this game, aside from a few which they gie you all the body parts and accessories to like Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, The Funks, Curry Man, Goldberg etc. Aside from creating your own wrestlers, you can edit all of the existing wrestler's appearances and move sets, and some wrestlers even have different or old gimmicks and looks(with their own separate movesets) once they are unlocked on Trial Mode. So are you tired of seeing Mutoh's bald mug everytime? no problem, granted you have unlocked it, you can choose one of his extra attires which are his '98-'99 NBM look(complete with nWo music) or his old school orange tights look(complete with Hold Out music) and best of all they have their trademark move sets from the time they used the gimmick. Other wrestlers have old attires/gimmicks as well. A lot of moves that WWE only fans will recognize are in the game, like The Rock Bottom, People's Elbow, Stunner, Jackhammer, Last Ride, Angle Slam, Angle Lock and a few more. There are also about 7-8 different arenas to choose from which are based on real life venues in Japan, inclding both Tokyo Dome and Budokan with a ramp entrance. Series matches, Shoot matches, Trial Road, extra gimmicks and unlockables keep this game fresh and add a lot of replay value. 10/10

I've bored you with this long rant so I'll keep my final impressions short & sweet. I am a fan of all forms of wrestling and it's games, from Toukon Retsuden 2, 3 and 4, to Fire Pro Wrestling 6 Man, G and D, Aki's VPW 1 and 2, No Mercy and even the Smackdown(Simple Series) games. I purchased a Japanese Playstation 2 console for the sole purpose of playing this game and from the day I got the game delivered and booted it up to this day I am still hyped, addicted and glued to King Of Colosseum. It's the first wrestling game I think ever since Aki's Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 that has delivered everything I love and find entertaining about wrestling, true wrestling I might add. Those of you who are open minded, looking for a solid, true, entertaining, and challenging wrestling game, rush to your local import shop, buy a Japanese PS2 or a Flip Top cover and buy/order this game as fast as you can. If you are a close minded fan who only cares about Titan Trons/themes, how many ways you can break a table, people being thrown from a cage and just playing as your favorite big name wrestler in the US, don't bother with King Of Colosseum, you don't deserve it. King Of Colosseum gives a stiff Shining Wizard right to the competition's face. Overall score: 9/10

Keep your eyes open cause as advertised on the King Of Colosseum instruction booklet, Fire Pro Wrestling Z is coming for the Playstation 2 in 2003!!!

1......2......Spike!!!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/03, Updated 01/06/03


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