Legends Of Wrestling II
Game Boy Advance
Today, I wanted to take a look at another game in a series of wrestling games that have always been shit on, but I personally enjoy - the Legends Of Wrestling series. As a young 20-something-year-old when the first game in the series got released; I already had a touch of nostalgia for wrestling days long past and was really looking forward to playing a game that featured legends that I remembered along with some promising young talent. the first Legends Of Wrestling wasn't groundbreaking or anything. It even had its share of quirks and bugs but I enjoyed it quite a bit and the series continued to get better and improve with each new release culminating with Showdown: Legends Of Wrestling. This would mark the final release for the series and the final game that Acclaim released in North America before they decided to call it quits and close down shop for good.
As much as I love and have fond memories of spending countless hours getting stoned (I'm sorry... as I said, I was in my early 20s at the time, so cut me a little slack) and playing Legends Of Wrestling 2 on my Playstation 2; I have never played this handheld version of the game until now. I'm quite certain it's going to be fairly different than what was offered on the PS2. Perhaps even shockingly so considering the vast difference in the hardware the game is running on. I'm really interested to fire this thing up...
Okay, perhaps "shockingly" was a good adverb to use because as soon as I turn this game on and heard the first couple of "notes" from the opening theme; it literally made me sit up straight like a bolt of electricity went through my spine. My volume was up a little too high and the opening "guitar riff" or whatever this muddled, metallic sound is supposed to represent was like a smack in the face. I'll admit; the shitty nu-metal theme for the PS2 version of this game is pretty bad but at least it doesn't assault your ears like this.
We can also see right away that this game uses the old technique of "scaling down" and digitizing the graphics in order for the game to work on this hardware. That's always unfortunate but, aside from reprogramming the entire game and starting from scratch; this is about the only option for transferring a PlayStation 2 game to the Gameboy Advance. It is unfortunate, though. This method always leaves the graphics looking lackluster and blurry. Imagine watching a YouTube video on your laptop in full-screen mode at 240p and you get a general idea - it's usable and gets the job done but it's not pretty to look at and gets annoying fairly quickly.
I also assumed the roster for this release would be scaled down from its other console ports due to limitations of the Gameboy Advance itself but it's actually not butchered too badly. The PS2 version of Legends Of Wrestling 2 features 25 playable wrestlers, whereas this version features 17. Not too shabby. Perhaps your favorite legend from LOW 2 on the PS2 may not be available to play as on this handheld port but there are still a lot of great choices to choose from in what I've always considered one of the greatest rosters of all time as far as video games go. Aside from using create-a-wrestlers in a Fire Pro Wrestling game; where else can you play as Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Bruno Sammartino, The Sheik, Eddie Guerrero, and even "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert all in one game!
Aside from some current WWE-style roster cuts; there are also some match types cut out from this release. You won't be able to enjoy any ladder matches or cage matches or foreign objects and bloodshed here but you can still compete in singles, tag team, and 3 or 4-way dance exhibition matches. You can also enjoy (I'll use that term loosely) a stripped-down version of the story mode that was included in the other console ports.
Once I get down to playing an actual match in this game; I'm sadly not too impressed with it. Aside from my ears bleeding due to the atrocious sound quality of the music; I decided to play as Bret Hart but the character model only vaguely resembles The Hitman himself. This guy kinda looks like the Dollar Store version of Bret Hart. Some dude named "Bert Hard", perhaps. Actually, it kind of looks like Kendall Windham cosplaying as "the Excellence of Execution". He's just way too tall and way too skinny.
I have to admit, as much as I'm a fan of the Legends Of Wrestling series, this game is pretty bad. Even as far as wrestling games go for the Game boy Advance - this game is still pretty bad. We're talking about a handheld system that, despite its limitations, has two excellent Fire Pro Wrestling game releases so there really isn't any excuse to make this atrocious of a wrestling game. I understand the developers wanting to capitalize on their release by trying to modify it to be able to run on this hardware but if this is the best that you can come up with then perhaps don't even bother.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!