Review by mjh31183

"Even The Best Wrestling Game of All Time Has Its Flaws"

Introduction: Ever since the announcement of King of Colosseum, questions of uncertainty were evident. Nobody was sure what this game was except that it was being developed by Spike, the company that brought us Fire Pro D (mostly thanks to Human Entertainment) and AJPW: King’s Soul. At times we though this would be the official 3D Fire Pro and at times we thought this is not going to be a wrestling game at all, but some kind of gladiator type game, hence the name of the title. Then came the day when we heard the news that this game would indeed be a wrestling game and would be based on the King of Soul Engine with a mix of Fire Pro timing and a little bit of Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 elements. Also, this game would be fully licensed and split up into two discs, one called “Red” and one called “Green.” The Red disc would feature stars from NJPW, AJPW, Pancrase and other MMA fighters. The Green disc would feature the stars of NOAH and Zero-One. Everybody following this game was truly anticipating “The Best Wrestling Game Ever” and after a couple of painful delays, this game (Red) was finally released. Did our dreams come true? Do we really have the closest thing to a 3D Fire Pro in our hands, let alone fully licensed? The answer to that question is Yes. We truly have in our hands “The Best Wrestling Game Of All Time” in our hands, but even the best doesn’t go without its flaws. The following review is based on my playing time with the Red disc, and at the time of writing this, the total scope on all of what this game and its future installments holds is not fully known. (I apologize in advance for the forthcoming lack of flow and organization in this review.)

Graphics (8/10): The Graphics of this game are honestly good. The character models are sharp and the facial detail is magnificent. The box art of this game uses the in-game characters, and I bet you can’t tell the difference between this and the real thing. Now, I know that this game doesn’t have 2 billion or whatever polygons per face like in Smackdown: SYM, but it gets the job done well and at high quality. Smackdown boasts realistic graphics and King of Colosseum boasts realistic wrestling. Take your choice. Even though the graphics aren’t bad, do they really matter? Look at the Fire Pro series, it’s in 2d and this series is hailed as the best ever. Anyways, KoC’s arenas are nice with the lights and streamers like the real thing, but very simplified and not detailed like a Smackdown game. KoC’s crowd is in 2d, but that’s nothing we haven’t experienced already. The game’s move animations are fluid, convincing and are spectacular. Only ASPW2’s animations are seen as more realistic.

Sound (8/10): The sound in this game is good, but I’ve heard better in other wrestling games. The familiar bumps and crunches from King’s Soul are back, and although it doesn’t sound super-realistic at least it’s not as bad as other games (WMX8). Once again look at Fire Pro, it sounds were very basic and nobody thought of the game as any less than what it is. The crowd in this game is great, but doesn’t surpass the realism of ASPW2. The crowd makes a great 1,2,3 chant, and truly makes it feel like a real match. The commentary of this game is superb. It’s undoubtedly the best commentary in a wrestling game ever. It flows well, and you can even choose a color commentator. Giant Gram 2000 still holds the insane enthusiasm, but this game is right there in quality. At times the commentator can scream in enthusiasm and at times he will be calm where as Giant Gram is constant insanity. Nonetheless, I’m very impressed with the commentary and absolutely is one of the key elements that enhances this game’s puroresu experience.

Gameplay/Engine (10/10): King of Colosseum truly has the best engine ever in a wrestling game because of the amount of moves possible to perform with ease. The amount of moves available to do in one match is mind-blowing and all of them are at simple button commands. This engine is based off of the King’s Soul engine for the PSX. The familiar powerballs are back and are ONLY used to perform special moves, not to kick out. This was a great move by Spike because you now don’t have to know that your opponent is going to kick out no matter what. There are different clutches. You press R1 and a button to get into a clutch/grapple and from there a button has to be pressed again at the right time in order to pull of a move. Kind of like Fire Pro but instead of walking into your opponent you have to grab them like other games. There are many different types of clutches. Suplex clutch, collar and elbow, double underhook, dragon screw, etc. are the basis of initiating a grapple. Irish whips are simple to pull off, and whipping your opponent into the corners is as easy as it can be. Throwing your opponent inside and outside of the ring is also easy to perform. Aerial moves such as tope’s and planchas are simple to perform and are executed just like Fire Pro, and there is even running apron moves to the outside like VPW2. Top rope aerial moves are executed just like fire pro but now some moves must have your opponent be parallel to the turnbuckle. The striking system is more advanced than Fire Pro and the amount of moves is plentiful. For turnbuckle moves, this game allows you to perform up to 8 different corner moves. Submissions are far more real than fire pro. Submissions will lock on for a good amount of time. Our favorite thing from Fire Pro called criticals make an appearance. Just like fire pro there is a breathing button and it functions very similar. The greatest aspect of the engine is the A.I. There is nothing better than facing a tough opponent that “just won’t go down.” There are many kick outs and the “2.9” is displayed. All of this is going on with electrifying crowd and commentary. Jobbers go down like jobbers and legends just take a lot more. When you think it’s over it’s not over. The best feeling is when you, the player, puts your arm up in the air in victory only to see him kickout at 2.9 and the crowd goes nuts. There are many “moments of greatness” I could tell you about, but I want you to experience it yourself. The shoot engine is basically an advanced version of fire pro’s with a very steep learning curve that I haven’t gotten into much, so I have no criticism. Since this is a real wrestling game there is blood. Finally, the difficulty of this game depends on you. I’m hearing that people are having trouble with the timing, but all I know is that I figured it out on the second day.

Features/Replay Value (10/10): Just like any great wrestling game, this is where the game shines. First off, the edit mode is simply a hybrid of VPW2’s and Fire Pro D’s. The entire layout and features is a replica of Fire Pro D, and most importantly we can preview the moves in 3D! Although it is not as detailed as fire pro in the edit mode features (some things can only be done in 2d), you will not be disappointed. This game will eventually be compatible with the Green Disc allowing even more characters to face. The Green disc will also feature moves, taunts, and appearances that aren’t in the Red disc. The game’s other modes are different series styles such as G1 Climax and Best of The Super Junior’s as well as the usual battle royal option. There are no death matches like in Fire Pro D. The game’s main feature, Trial Road is the career mode. You can take your wrestler through a year to a year and of half through a promotion’s schedule. Trial Road resembles characteristics of Fire Pro G with an RPG like look. Through wrestling matches, you must use your spirit points to purchase attributes to heal your damaged body and spirit. You can also level up your skills through a blackjack-esque game. Completing Trial Road unlocks various characters and such.

Notable Flaws: The following flaws are the only reason why this game didn’t get a perfect score. These flaws are bad enough to bring the game down one point, but still call this the best wrestling game of all time. First, the camera has zooming problems. In a tag match, most of the time the camera isn’t zoomed out enough to see your partner on the apron. Most importantly the camera has a big problem catching any corner moves. You cannot see everybody’s entire body. For example a in a superplex, you can’t see the wrestler’s faces. The camera does change angles whenever a big move is performed which looks great. Entrances are good, but I’ve seen better. I know that this is the least important part of the game because we skip them anyway later, but I wish I could see something more detailed. The WWE games are better which once again proves what the game is trying to tell you. The difficulty of Trial Road at some points can be very tedious and even the above average player must rely on a match containing hardly any grapples because they would get reversed easily. The wrestler introductions suffer from choppiness because of the loading of different phrases and names like in other wrestling games. The rope break situation is the most disappointing aspect. It’s simply too strict. I thought VPW2 was a little strict, but you’re in for an annoying experience that really brings the credibility of this game down. Hey, you can turn them off anyway.

Final Score (9/10): I’ve said to myself many times that the ultimate wrestling game would contain VPW2’s great engine, Giant Gram’s electricity and commentary, and Fire Pro D’s moves, A.I. and edit mode. Well folks, this is it. This game fulfills all of these requirements except Giant Gram’s flash and flair. All this game needs to be perfect and I seriously mean perfect is better entrances, fixed rope breaks, and a slightly improved camera. This game is a JPN PS2 system seller and has set the standard of quality for future wrestling games to come. There’s hardly anything left to be desired. What this game does well, are all the best ever. What this game doesn’t do well on, is simply flaws. This game’s flaws are bothersome, but the fact that its good qualities are so revolutionary make you easily overlook the flaws. This is so far the best wrestling game ever, and it is worthy of your purchase and a JPN PS2 if necessary. I’m sure I left out some topics to discuss, but the bottom line is that this game is a must-have, and you must experience it for yourself.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/05/03, Updated 01/05/03

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