3 Count Bout
Arcade / Nintendo Switch
Today, I wanted to take a look at a classic game developed and released by SNK in 1993. Labeling it as a "classic" in the first sentence of this review may be a bit of a spoiler but, if you know anything about the Golden Age of arcade games then you already know that SNK released almost nothing but classics.They're responsible for well-loved series like Metal Slug, Fatal Fury, King Of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, and Sengoku, just to name a few.
This happens to be one of my favorite arcade wrestling games (I'd say it's in my top-5 for sure) so let's take a look at the things that make it worth playing. Known as "Fire Suplex" in Japan, 3 Count Bout's title screen has some great, up-tempo music going for it. Something to get you pumped up a little to play which is useful because although this game is fun, it's also not the easiest wrestling game to play. It does have more than its fair share of frantic button-mashing. Now we get to choose who we want to play as so let's take a look at the roster.
We get to choose from ten different competitors and unlike most unlicensed wrestling games; not many are based on real-life wrestlers who were popular at the time. There's an exception or two but most of these guys are either original creations or seem to be... how should I put this... homages to Capcom characters. I don't know if they were taking digs at Capcom or not because both companies have worked together on the popular SNK vs Capcom series of games. Oddly enough, one of my favorite games in that series is not a fighting game like both companies are known for. My favorite that I still play to this day is the collectible card game video game - Snk vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash. Anyway, I digress. Back to the roster.
Our first choice is "Bear Busting Barbarian" (you'll find these competitors have some interesting nicknames) Roy Wilson. Now, the name Roy Wilson might sound like he's your next-door neighbor but he actually seems to be based on King Rasta Mon from Saturday Night Slam Masters. Next is the "Hot Gentleman" Terry Rodgers who seems to be your typical blonde-haired, "white meat babyface," as they used to call them. Just picture Tommy Rich or Eric Embry (when he was a face) and you get the idea. Next up is the redundantly named "The Scarlet Ninja" The Red Dragon. He's pretty much Great Muta. That's the easiest way to put it. Now we come to "The Buddhist Boa" The Gandhara. He's certainly based on Dhalsim from Capcom's Street Fighter series. Rounding out the first half of the roster is the ghostly-looking gentleman from Canada, the "Wild Maned Maniac" Leo Bradlay. He fights using his ever-present chain that's wrapped around his entire upper body. He's the character that I tend to do best with whenever I'm playing this game.
For the second half of the roster, we have "The Human B-52" Big Bombarder who likes to sport his belly shirt when wrestling, a la Arn Anderson in any 80s Street Fight match, ever. After him, we have "The Deutsch Dracula" Blubber Man. If you can't guess by his name, he's a big fat guy. He could be somewhat based on Jumbo Flapjack from Saturday Night Slam Masters. Next up is "The Passionless Cyborg" Master Barnes. He's the obligatory "Road Warrior character" because, no matter what, you have to have one of those, right? Following that is "The Raging Bull" Gochack BigBomb. This is obviously Big Bombarder under a hood. I mean, both guys even have the words "big" and "bomb" in their names and have the same love for belly shirts. I always took this as maybe being a nod to the tradition in pro wrestling of popular wrestlers having to "leave town" and then come back in a mask. Like Dusty Rhodes with The Midnight Rider and Hulk Hogan with Mr. America. The final wrestler also follows this theme. He's known as "The Mysterious Shadow Warrior" Blues Hablam. He's not really that mysterious though because he's obviously Blubber Man under a hood.
This game is similar to FMW Atsushi Onita and Saturday Night Slam Masters in that it's a wrestling game/fighting game hybrid. The matches are fast-paced, heavily involve striking, and even feature different stages than a standard wrestling ring. I really like that aspect because it adds some variety to the gameplay. Aside from a standard wrestling match, there are street fights which are literal fights on the street. Well, fights in a parking garage, to be exact. In this stage, you can use a variety of weapons (including a stun gun) and throw and slam your opponent onto parked cars. You can also step off-screen for a second and return carrying a hapless businessman in a suit who's failing his limbs around in a state of panic. Then you can proceed to throw him at your opponent like some sort of human lawn dart. The final type of stage is deathmatches which involve barbwire baseball bats and electrified ropes.
Unlike a lot of other wrestling games from this era, there are even slight blood effects when you use a weapon on your opponents which is a nice detail. The controls seem very simple in theory but the game is a little difficult because of frenzied, timed button mashing. Basically, whenever you and your opponent lock up, you have to rapidly push the "A button" to fill up your power meter while your opponent is doing the same. The problem is, if you win this struggle, a message briefly flashes for you to perform your move which means you have to input whatever button press combo you're trying to do at that exact moment or else your opponent takes over and performs their selected move. In my opinion; it's a little hard to transition from mashing one button as fast as you can into performing a timed button press combo at the exact right moment.
All in all; this is a classic arcade wrestling title that all gamers should check out. The team at Hamster continues to release these hundreds and hundreds of classic arcade titles for modern consoles and I love it. The cost of these classics is always affordable and you can oftentimes even find them on sale in the E-shop for even cheaper.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!