Fire Pro Wrestling World (Part 2)
Steam / PC
Last time, we took a look at the roster of real-life wrestlers in the game, the "create" feature, and the Fire Promoter mode that I found so much fun. This time, I want to dive deeper into the various story modes (or Fighting Road modes as this game calls them). This game features not only one but three Fighting Roads to conquer. Well, three if you purchase all the applicable DLC.
The first Fight Road mode we're taking a look at is called "Heavyweights". I originally thought this was the story mode that's included in the base game so I didn't play it until I had played through the other two, for a while. As soon as I started playing it; I realized it features licensed wrestlers from NJPW so this must be part of the New Japan DLC and the base game itself doesn't include a story mode. That kinda sucks. What I did eventually play of it seemed interesting enough. You begin by being trained by the legendary Yuji Nagata and Super Strong Machine and you're attempting to become a future IWGP champion.
Moving on to the next Fighting Road - this one also comes to us courtesy of the NJPW DLC. I have to say; the NJPW DLC really has the best value out of all of the DLC's because you not only get their top stars added to your roster; you also get accurate representations of all of their championships in your "title section" for your favorite wrestlers to battle each other over and you get two Fighting Road modes as a bonus. Not bad! This Fighting Road features some of the popular and legendary Junior Heavyweights that have wrestled in the New Japan promotion over the years. Most prominently, it features Jushin Thunder Liger as your childhood hero.
The story starts in 1994 as your father is showing you your first puroresu match. You watch in awe as Jushin battles the likes of legendary Satoshi Kojima and attempts to use his speed and agility to win against Kojima's size and power. Liger ends up losing the encounter but winning your respect in the process. As your character (so awkwardly) puts it; Liger "steals your heart" that day. As much as I'm a fan of any given wrestler; I'd be wary to say that any of them "stole my heart" but I do get the sentiment that the writers are trying to go for... ever since that day; you wanted to be one of the greatest Junior Heavyweights NJPW (and the world, for that matter) has ever seen!
Completely ignoring the backstory of growing up in Japan and becoming obsessed with NJPW; I decided my character should be a luchador. Thus, the much-feared El Pendejo was created! The story starts with your first day of training at the NJPW dojo. You're running late and find out that your favorite wrestler, Jushin Liger, is going to be your trainer. Of course, you have to tell Liger how much of a huge fan you are and he yells at you at basically tells you to quit being such a mark. Afterward, you find out your first sparring session is going to be against undefeated MMA fighter, one half of the Time Splitters (along with Alex Shelly), and current NXT superstar, Kushida. If you can win against Kushida in your sparring match then you acquire training points and can begin to level up your future grappling great. All in all; this seems like a really fun and interesting story mode to play through.
Perhaps the most interesting Fighting Road mode is the third and final one we're going to take a look at today. Unlike the NJPW DLC that includes wrestlers, title belts, and two different story modes; this DLC package only includes this story mode but it's well worth the investment, I think. It's written by legendary (yet underappreciated) Japanese game designer, Goichi Suda a/k/a Suda51. Suda51 is most famous for creating games like killer7, Killer Is Dead, and the popular No More Heroes series. His connection with Fire Pro Wrestling began when he first started his career by working on Fire Pro Wrestling III Final Bout, way back in 1993. His bosses at Human (the owners of the FPW license at the time) were impressed with his work and let Suda write the story mode for the next Fire Pro game; Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special. What he ended up giving them is a dark and moody story mode about the tragic rise to the top of one young, promising wrestler who ends up killing himself in the end due to not being able to deal with all the newfound pressure in his life. Pretty deep stuff. Here, after all these years, Suda51 is back to tell the story of that wrestler's son who grew up dreaming of being a puroresu champion, just like his father.
This story mode is very entertaining and features Goichi Suda's patented style of mixing dark, serious moments with an equal mix of humor, at times. You begin the story by having on-again, off-again flashbacks of your father's life and death and you can feel the grim reaper coming for you, as well. You're being trained by your uncle, Grateful Saeba, which is just the first of many funny and interesting character names that we'll run across here. You begin your career under a hood and conceal your true identity. After a few big wins; you "come out" to the audience and show them who you really are.
Then, you move on to compete in an MMA style tournament in Texas. The reason you're doing this is never quite explained but I guess it's in order to travel and gain experience in different styles. In Texas, you run into some interesting characters like Cherry Blossom Ikki (who is a former protege of your uncle) and someone who is apparently some sort of super-patriot (imagine Kurt Angle turned up to 11) named "The American Dream Made Real" July Eagle. That's right; first name July... last name Eagle. Admittedly, a fairly common name here in the states. Mr. Eagle is a former Olympic champion who literally threatens to cripple you with suplexes. After your intense battle with July Eagle (that name really doesn't get any more "normal" no matter how many times you say it); some dude named Flaming Musashi storms in and starts slapping the piss out of everyone. I assume this is supposed to represent Antonio Inoki because it resembles him and Inoki was known for his love of MMA and his penchant for slapping the shit out of people while they stand there and take it as a sign of respect. This really seems like a great story mode to complete and I look forward to getting deeper and deeper into it!
Here's the final breakdown for Fire Pro Wrestling World - the base game sucks (to be blunt about it) and is lacking so, so many features that it's pretty much a waste of money if that's all you're planning on purchasing. I'd give it a hard pass if that were the case. If you love the FPW series and you're ready to drop some serious dollars on it and really want to experience what is almost certainly the greatest Fire Pro game ever created; I highly recommend investing your hard-earned dollars into this one. It may cost a pretty penny in the end but with so many options and game modes and everything else to choose from; this game could keep you entertained for the foreseeable future without being in any sort of danger of becoming repetitious. Truly a masterpiece of a puroresu game.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!