WWF King Of The Ring
"It's the event everyone's talking about - the King of the Ring - and now it's time to prove you're the best! It's a brutal, no-time-out elimination tournament for the wrestling crown!"
Well, guys, we've taken a look at some good (and bad) NES games over the last few years and, unless I'm wrong, I believe this is the last pro wrestling game in the NES library to take a look at. I guess it's kind of fitting that King Of The Ring was also the last pro wrestling game that was released for the NES, in its dying days.
By the time this game was released in 1993, the Super Nintendo had already been out for a couple of years and a lot of players had moved on from their NES. Still, LJN wanted to give dedicated NES players one final WWF game for the system. Was it a good one? We shall soon find out...
This game was developed by Gray Matter Inc. whom I'm honestly not familiar with. There's rumored to be a funny story about their development of this game, though. Allegedly, Hulk Hogan was initially not satisfied with his character's hairline (as if he hasn't had a full-on "skullet" since 1985 or so) so the developers adjusted it. When he complained again, they just gave his character a full head of hair.
Now, I'm not sure if this story is true or not but I can assure you that Hogan's character does have a full head of hair in this game for some odd reason. We'll get to the rest of the amusing character designs in a minute, though.
When you fire this old thing up, you get the obligatory LJN rainbow logo followed by the title screen with some nice 8-bit theme music. After you pick your match type, then we get to the roster select screen. Here, you can scroll through the 10 available superstars and choose one to represent you or you can choose to be "You" who seems to be a horrifically deformed, faceless man with a ? over his smooth, featureless face... or perhaps he's just supposed to be blank so you can imagine yourself in the game. Yeah, the latter seems more likely, I suppose. "You" does happen to be a very early attempt at a "create-a-wrestler" feature because you can change his name and stats. Decent attempt considering the limitations at the time.
When it comes down to it, some of the superstars don't look quite like you were used to seeing on television. Razor Ramon's profile picture sort of looks like a fat-headed Fred Flintstone. At least that's what he reminds me of. Lex Luger seems to look less like Luger and more like WWE Hall Of Famer Ricky Morton. Also, Bam Bam Bigelow's head tattoos are represented by what looks like a combover. Hulk Hogan's profile picture looks pretty dead-on, though. Macho Man's is also pretty decent. If you take the time to listen to the various superstars' entrance music while you're making your choice, it all sounds really good. Sometimes, WWF entrance music on the NES is hit and miss. Here, it's a hit.
Well, now we can get down to the action. There's no real "story mode" but there's a tournament option. I suppose it's some other tournament besides the King Of The Ring. If you complete this tournament, you become the WWF champ and are shown the end credits for the game. The King Of The Ring option is basically the same. It's another tournament (obviously) and if you win this, you're crowned King Of The Ring and shown the end credits. Pretty simple stuff. You can't expect much, though. It's not gonna be an expansive, epic story like Final Fantasy 7, let's say. It's how fun these old wrasslin' games are to play that counts.
Once the matches do start, to be honest, the graphics still leave a little something to be desired. I've seen worse, though. You guys remember M.U.S.C.L.E., right? It's nowhere near that bad, at least.
The only two major things I noticed was the fact that the entire crowd is tinted blue (oxygen deprivation or just incredibly sad?) and the fact that, instead of flames, Bam Bam Bigelow's ring attire looks like he was wearing a black jumpsuit and someone dumped buckets of paint on him.
Gameplay-wise, King Of The Ring isn't too bad. At least with all the weird character design choices and the Hogan hairline debacle, it has fairly solid gameplay going for it.
As far as NES wrestling games go, this is no Pro Wrestling. I'd still put it in my top 5, though, with the likes of Tecmo World Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling. The matches here consist of a lot of the ol' punch/kick combined with the usual Irish-whips and dropkicks. There are some bodyslams and hip tosses thrown in too. There doesn't seem to be any signature moves but, whatever. In a simple game like this, you don't miss them too much.
This was a pretty fun game to revisit but like some older games; it's best with two players, I think. Maybe invite some friends over and stage your own, personal King Of The Ring. Other than that, you can kill a few minutes with it but it gets stale pretty quickly. Still, not a bad choice to add to your collection for a fun "game night" with some cohorts.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!