Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighborhood
Sony PlayStation 2 / XBox One
"Delve deep into the heart of Small Town America, USA, with Backyard Wrestling 2. Backyard Wrestling Inc. has put a million-dollar cash prize on the line for the wrestler who can win the unified BYW championship. Defeating the most hardcore backyard wrestlers is not enough, however, as the lure of "easy money" has attracted the attention of professional wrestlers as well..."
Today, I'd like to take a look at a game that used to get a fair amount of playtime on my old PS2. I've previously reviewed the first Backyard Wrestling video game and I always thought it was okay. Nothing great. When the first game was released, it was a critical flop but moved enough units to warrant this sequel. This second game of the series was advertised as being "vastly improved" prior to its release. Was it? We shall see...
Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighborhood was developed by Paradox Development and released by Eidos Interactive on November 16, 2004. I've played a few Paradox games over the years and I've always found their company logo amusing. It's a design that features two ducks. You know, like a "pair a' ducks". Pretty clever, I think. Paradox was actually owned by Midway at this point and they later got renamed Midway Studios, Los Angeles. Midway made a few classic wrestling games themselves. Most notably, "Wrestlemania" for arcades.
The story mode for the first BYW game included guests on a "Jerry Springer-like" talk show sharing their stories about how backyard wrestling had tragically affected their lives. The story mode for this game ups the ante by having the owner of Backyard Wrestling Inc. (I assume this is the same guy who produced the original BYW mail-order VHS tapes that I used to own) informing us that "your hometown" is the best place to hold their inaugural pay-per-view and that "you" are the best person to main event it. He also tells us that whoever wins the BYW title gets 1,000,000 dollars! I know you're supposed to suspend your disbelief when it comes to video games... but this game seriously wants me to believe that holding a pay-per-view at the local high school gym in Waynesboro, VA, starring me, is the best business plan they can come up with? Also, somehow I get a million dollars out of the deal? Sure, sign me up! No wonder Backyard Wrestling Inc was only in business for a few years.
This game has a decent sized roster (25 characters) but I wouldn't call it the "GOAT" of video game rosters or anything. There are some cool characters to choose from but there's also filler material like porn stars and Andrew WK. Seriously, who wants to be Andrew WK? Highlights of the roster include Vampiro, New Jack, Ryuji Ito, and Messiah, who I never thought had much talent but is notable only for the bizarre story of being attacked in his home and having one of his thumbs cut off! I kid you not. I remember seeing the America's Most Wanted episode about it at the time. On the show they said they believed it to be some sort of "gang initiation" as in, "If you wanna be in our gang, go cut this dude's thumb off and bring it back to us". I'm not sure if the crime ever was solved, to be honest.
As far as this game being advertised as "vastly improved" over its predecessor; it sort of looks and feels about the same to me. The create-a-wrestler option was fleshed out a little more, but not much else has changed really. The controls are the same from the first game which means every match is a fast-paced, strike fest until you can stun your opponent and actually throw them or slam them on (or through) some random piece of plunder, if you will. Personally, I never enjoy a fast-paced wrestling game very much. Professional wrestling has a sort of flow to it. It shouldn't require split-second reflexes. Whenever I want to keep my reflexes sharp, I'll duke it out with some teenagers, online on UFC 3. I don't want to have that experience (getting KO'd; called an "old man" etc.) while playing a wrestling game.
I have to say, I think I like the stages in the first BYW game better than the ones offered here. The only one here I ever really enjoyed is the miniature golf course because it features a "miniature city" in the level that you can trample and throw your opponent around in; Godzilla style. Other than that, I prefer the stages in the first game better like the gas station and the talk show set.
I wouldn't call this a "bad game"; I liked it okay when it was released (although I question my taste about a lot of things in my early twenties) and I played it a lot back then. Enough to play through the story and unlock all of the bonus content, at least. Nowadays, though, I can't tolerate it for long. I guess it kind of depends on your taste as to whether you'd enjoy this game or not. Still, if you are interested in playing a backyard wrestling game; I'd suggest picking the first one up over this less than stellar sequel.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!