Pocket Pro Wrestling - Perfect Wrestler
Game Boy Color
In case you've never noticed; one of my favorite subgenres of wrestling video games is puroresu games that were Japan exclusives when released. I've played many that were released throughout the 8-16 bit eras. In fact, I'd like to think of myself as a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to classic wrestling games that were exclusive to "the land of the rising sun."
Every time I think that maybe I've seen and played them all; a game like this surfaces on my radar and I'm excited to be able to check it out! Let's get this out of the way early - yes, Pocket Pro Wrestling is sort of an odd title and it sounds to me like some sort of euphemism for masturbation... but let's just chuckle about that now and get it out of the way and give this "colorfully-named game" a fair chance.
This game was developed by Dream Japan and published by J-Wing on March 17, 2000. I have to admit, even when it comes to puroresu games, I'm completely unfamiliar with either of these companies so, I guess we're going into this "blind", not knowing what to expect. Sometimes, that's a good thing. The opening menu music is pretty catchy and that goes for all music used in this game, to be honest. I catch myself humming along to these in-game tunes quite often. Don't get me wrong; the soundtrack isn't on the level of Duck Tales or Sonis the Hedgehog but it is quite good.
One thing I do know going into this is that this game only features one on one matches. That's kind of a shame. You can't expect much variety in match types in these types of games but you could at least add tag team matches. I don't think it would involve that much extra effort but maybe I'm wrong. I always hold the two Fire Pro Wrestling games that came out for the Game Boy Advance as sort of the "measuring stick" for these early-2000s handheld wrestling games but, to be fair, those games didn't come out until 2 or 3 years later and they were on the Game Boy Advance not the Game Boy Color so, I guess we can cut this game a little slack when it comes to the lack of variety and fairly small roster.
Speaking of the roster; it may be small but it's pretty damn good. I'm sure you can turn the latter part of that last sentence into a "that's what she said joke" but I'll restrain myself and move on. Like with almost all (let's be honest; pretty much all) unlicensed wrestling games; this game's entire roster is based on real life wrestlers that you'd love to play as but who they didn't feel like paying to use their likeness. Vader, Antonio Inoki, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Rick Steiner are all represented along with 6 other well-known names which equals a roster of ten, in all. There are also two hidden "boss characters" who represent Hulk Hogan and the Great Muta that you run into during the game. You can also unlock these two legends through fairly easy button press combos on the menu screen and then play as them as well. Hidden codes in an old-school game are always a nice touch.
As I mentioned; this is a game that features only one on one matches so there are only a few modes to choose from. There's a Champion Road mode which is a "chase the championship mode" where you wrestle everyone else on the roster (including the 2 boss characters) and try to become the World's Champ. There's also a single match mode, a "survival mode" which involves three one vs one matches between two competing "teams" and, a "Challenge Mode" which is sort of another chase the championship mode with "stricter rules" but I'm not quite sure how it works to be honest. It pretty much seems just like the Champion Road mode to me. Maybe the difficulty is just turned up a notch.
As far as the gameplay goes; this game controls like most puroresu games as in it uses timed button presses to pull off grappling moves. For you puroresu game veterans, this is nothing new but, for those of you just getting into the genre; this means that button mashing will get you nowhere! When the two combatants hook up in a grapple; you have to push the grapple button and a directional button on the D-pad at the exact right time to pull off the desired move that you want to do.
Usually, in Fire Pro Wrestling games, there are weak, medium, and strong moves at your disposal and you have to wear your opponent down in order to do high-impact moves. Here, the controls are a little more simplified. You can perform any grapple at any time but you can only do the high impact moves by grappling a stunned opponent. Every wrestler also has their finisher available that you can perform after filling up the "power meter". Once your meter is full; you can press the select button and the A button together and then you have a few seconds in which to catch your hapless opponent in your finisher.
This is a game that didn't show up on my radar until very recently but, despite some of its shortcomings, it's a decent game to own for your handheld wrestling game collection. I might not go so far as to call it a "hidden gem" but it's pretty close to that level Worth checking out for sure for you hardcore, puroresu game enthusiasts.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!