Giant Gram 2000: All Japan Wrestling 3
I love the Sega Dreamcast and I love pro wrestling games. The thing is, though, I haven't really played many pro wrestling games for the Dreamcast. I figured I'd remedy that today by checking out this Japanese exclusive puroresu title.
Giant Gram 2000 was developed by Scarab and published by Sega on August 10, 2000. Unlike a lot of puroresu games; this game is licensed by All Japan. That means all wrestlers included in the game use their real names and likenesses instead of being slightly changed superstars that "mostly" represent who you want to play as. That's a nice bonus going in.
Upon starting this game; I really like the title music. It starts off sounding sort of "regal" and then the pace picks up and it becomes a catchy little tune. Very fitting. We can also see some examples of the graphics during the intro and I have to say, even today, they look very good. Especially considering this game is over 20 years old at this point!
In this game, you're able to wrestle in singles or tag matches but the most interesting aspect of the game is the "Historical Mode". In this mode, you can play through classic All Japan matches like Giant Baba vs Stan Hansen from February 4, 1982 (Hansen's first singles match in All Japan) or Tsuruta vs Hansen in the match where the Triple Crown Championship was first created by unifying the NWA International, NWA United National, and PWF Heavyweight championships.
There are a ton of matches to play through in Historical Mode and this is where you should be spending the majority of your time while playing this game. The classic matches are really fun to relive and each one that you complete unlocks something like create-a-wrestler outfits or secret wrestlers. Even more recent WWE games have borrowed this idea of including some sort of "historical mode" in some of their releases and I can't say I blame them. It's a pretty cool addition and gives the game a lot of replay value. The roster for this game is packed with superstars from All Japan like the aforementioned Stan Hansen, Giant Baba, Vader, Steve Williams, and even Wolf Hawkfield! Okay, so Wolf Hawkfield isn't an All Japan wrestler but he is my favorite fighter to use in Virtua Fighter 2 and he is included in this game as well. He's a wrestling-based fighter and even a "Sega legend" of sorts and I really like his inclusion here in this game.
There are also "secret wrestlers" on the roster like Great Muta, The Crusher, and Young Giant Baba. On top of all of this, there is even a legends section of the roster that features the likes of Bruiser Brody, Rikidozan, Bobo Brazil, (Canada's Greatest Athlete) Gene Kiniski, and Don Leo Jonathan. Seriously, what tf other wrestling game are you going to be able to play as Bobo Brazil or Don Leo Jonathan? Literally none, I would assume.
I mentioned before how the graphics looked well done in the intro, which is reinforced when I begin to play a match. I'm honestly surprised at how well they still hold up. Each wrestler has their own entrance and I particularly like Bruiser Brody's. He comes to the ring clutching his ever-present steel chain and barking crazily as he always did. If only they had animated him swinging the chain over his head like a maniac and smacking a few unlucky marks with it. That would've been perfect.
All of the moves in the game are also well-animated and look very stiff when performed. It really does justice to the "strong style" of wrestling that All Japan has always featured in its bouts. The "fighting system" for this game is pretty simplistic on the surface but very hard to master. It uses a "rock, paper, scissors" method for pulling off moves. Whenever you and your opponent are attempting a move at the same time - throws beat grapples. Grapples beat strikes and strikes beat throws. When you have your opponent in the midst of a grapple or throw; you can input various, timed button presses to modify it. This way you can turn a vertical suplex into a brain buster or turn a Tiger Driver into a Tiger Driver 91. A lot of these timed button presses are pretty hard to pull off at first but once you get a feel for the game, it's not too tough.
All these years after its initial release, this game is still really fun to play and still looks aesthetically pleasing. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed playing it. It's a shame that I'd never played it until now but I plan on putting more time into it in the future.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!