Gekitou Burning Pro Wrestling
Super Nintendo / Super Famicom
The Super Nintendo is such a great console when it comes to pro wrestling games. Between the games released in Japan and North America; every time I think I may have played them all, I discover one like this that I had never heard of before and got to play for the first time very recently. Let's unearth this relic from the 90s and see if it's worth playing or if it should've remained buried.
Gekitou Burning Pro Wrestling was developed by Ukiyotei and released as a Japanese exclusive by Bullet Proof Software on October 6, 1995. Bullet Proof Software released a few notable titles for the NES in North America as well but they're far from legendary status. By the way, if you can't guess by the game's title, this game is a Fire Pro Wrestling clone with a different camera angle compared to Fire Pro games. In Fire Pro, the ring is set in a "diamond shape", meaning two of the corner posts are on the top and bottom of the screen and two corner posts are on the left and right. In this game, the ring is "rotated" slightly so the corner posts line up with the corners of whatever screen you're playing it on. That's the only real difference between the two.
When the title screen starts, even the music sounds like some rip-off Fire Pro music but hey, what do you expect? At least if they're ripping someone off; they're ripping off the best. The title theme is actually pretty good, to be honest. On the following menu screen, we can now see that there are multiple match types to pick from and even more rule adjustments that can be made to tweak the matches. As usual, it would help if more of the text were in English but that's just something you have to deal with when playing puroresu games. There is an English translation ROM available online that you could possibly reference to help you navigate the menus.
The choice of match types we have are exhibition (a regular match), survival (a Survivor Series type of match), Battle Royal (that up to 18 wrestlers can participate in! Six in the ring at a time), World War (a championship mode were you travel the different territories to try to become multiple time champion), tournament (a single elimination tournament), and league (a round robin tournament). There's even a create-a-wrestler option which is honestly pretty insane and quite awesome. You rarely see that in any SNES wrestling games. I can't even remember off the top of my head any other game from that era that has that particular option.
Aside from these modes, there are different rule sets to choose from as well. These rule sets determine things like how long the ring out count lasts (a 10 or 20 count or perhaps not being able to leave the ring at all) and the time limit of the match, etc. These rule sets include Japanese, American, Luch Libre rules, RISK (a Fighting Network RINGS style), UPWF (UWFi), Pancrase, Kickboxing, and finally, Free, where you set your own rules to your liking. Between the match types and rule sets; you can really tweak and fine-tune a lot of things to make for some interesting match-ups.
The roster for this game is also pretty insane - 117 different, unique wrestlers to choose from! All of these are based on real-life grapplers and MMA fighters from all around the world. Some highlights are, from Japan we have Kendo Nagasaki (one of my favorites as a kid watching wrestling here in the US), The Great Sasuke, Tenryu, and Mr. Pogo. Representing Mexico are El Canek, Negro Casas, and Dos Caras. Kickboxers include Ernesto Hoost and Andy Hug. Pancrase is represented by the likes of Ken Shamrock and Bas Rutten and American wrestlers include Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Sting, and The Undertaker. There are literally way too many names to mention on the entire roster. If you can think of a particular wrestler circa 1995 or before; they're probably included in this game.
The matches play out just as a Fire Pro Wrestling game would. All moves are timing based and you have to wear down your opponent with weaker moves before you attempt stronger ones or they'll automatically get reversed.
I really enjoyed playing this one. It may be considered a "Fire Pro clone" but I think it's actually better than the 16-bit era FPW games. The roster is larger. It has almost as much variety in match types (sans any sort of deathmatches) and the World War story mode where you travel to all of the many promotions featured in this game in order to win their various championships is pretty cool. You even get to compete in shoot fights and kickboxing matches along the way. Add in the create-a-wrestler feature that allows you to add even more wrestlers to this already huge roster and you've really got yourself a hidden gem here. I would suggest everyone check it out if they're able.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!