Super Fire Pro Wrestling - Queen's Special
Super Nintendo / Super Famicom
This week, we take a trip back to the "land of the rising sun" to sample another Japanese exclusive pro wrestling game. Super Fire Pro Wrestling - Queen's Special was released on June 30, 1995. Programmed by Human Club and released by Human Entertainment, it is one of the 16-bit titles in the very prolific Fire Pro Wrestling series.
Starting in 1989, there are literally about 30 games in the series! Nowadays, games get a LOT of sequels and series like Grand Theft Auto and Call Of Duty have been around for years, but a series that started 26 years ago and features 30 sequels is still very impressive. The people at Human, now Spike, must have been doing something right.
This game is a little bit of a departure from your average FPW game because instead of making carbon copies of real wrestlers and renaming them to avoid lawsuits and whatnot, Human Entertainment actually obtained a license from All Japan Pro Wrestling to feature it's Women's (Joshi) division. This also makes the game an exclusively female wrestling game which is unheard of in North America.... but in Japan, there were at least a few Joshi only games. Let's dust off this old cart and see how it matches up with other games from that era.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND: The intro screen features text that I assume is supposed to get you excited to play the game, although I can't read it... but you can't fault the game for that. I am merely a "baka gaijin" (stupid foriegner) when it comes to being able to read kanji so that's on me.
The wrestler models look good on the wrestler select screen. The faces are a little muddled and not as crisp as maybe they could be but I assume you could recognize them all, if you were familiar with them. I, for one, only recognized Bull Nakano because I was always a big fan of hers in WCW and she's the only wrestler here that I'm familiar with.
Once the matches start, all of the animations are very good, from the moves to even the referee counting a pinfall attempt. The ring seems a little small at first and you can be easily thrown out of it but it's not a big problem. Speaking of the ring, you can choose from a variety of different ring mats to use each with a different design or logo. All of the sound is well done.
The background music does just that....stays in the background. It doesn't overpower the whole audio of the game. You can even choose from a few different tracks in the options menu. One nice touch is when you clamp on a submission hold, you hear a sort of grinding sound. It's not realistic per se, but it really makes you feel like you're stretching someone out.
GAMEPLAY: Gameplay is always the strong point of the Fire Pro series. It's always unique compared to other games with its timed button presses and the fact that you have to wear down opponents before you can move to pulling off bigger moves.
If you "button mash" in any of these games, you will get absolutely nowhere. It takes strategy and being able to keep your cool and know exactly what you're trying to do. First time players always have to fight the urge to frantically press buttons when they're losing.
It bears repeating that the learning curve is really high for any game in the FPW series. It takes awhile to get the timing down like I imagine it would be to actually train to be a wrestler. When I first learned, I was just about ready to give up completely but then during one match, it all finally clicked. I can still never win EVERY match, which I like. It's always a struggle to get a win but that's what makes it exciting and makes every win feel like an accomplishment.
As far as game modes, there's a story mode in the style of the old "chase for the championship" mode many older games use. There's also a "one night match" as Fire Pro always phrases it and a battle royal and elimination tag mode similar to a Survivor Series style match.
Queen's Special also features a "create a wrestler" option which was probably a first. It seems pretty deep, too, but once again, I can't read enough Japanese to decipher it.
I think tag team matches are my favorite in this game. Your partner's always intelligent, running in to save you from a pin or submission attempt and when you and your partner are in the ring, you can pull off some devasting double team moves.
Going back to graphics for just a second, I did notice that when you're playing a tag team match and all four wrestlers are in the ring at once (which happens pretty often), the graphics kind of glitch out. At least it did on my TV but an older CRT television for which these games were designed to be played on may handle it better. Either way, it's not game breaking and you can play through it until it straightens back out.
VERDICT: I'll admit, when I got this game, I didn't give it much of a chance. I bought it just to add to my FPW game collection. I played it for a minute or two to make sure it worked and then just put it away. Upon replaying it for this review though, it's pretty good.
It looks better and smoother than the first couple of Fire Pro Wrestling games for the Super Famicom and, if you're able to decipher it, the game provides you with a create a wrestler mode which was probablly one of the first of it's kind. I also grew to love the smaller ring because the action spilled to the outside quite often which was particularly exciting when playing in a tag team match where your partner would get involved. Overall, I give it 3.5 stars.
Until next time....keep mashing those buttons (unless you're playing a Fire Pro Wrestling game....if so, just keep your cool)!