Sega Master System
During the 8-bit console wars, Nintendo pretty much dominated the market with the NES. There was, however, some competition from Sega and its Master System. One of the early games for the Master System was "Pro Wrestling".
Although it shares a title with NES "Pro Wrestling", they are completely different games. This one happened to come out first by a few months when it was released by Sega on July 20, 1986. This game also has what is probably my favorite cover art of any wrestling game with the headless wrestler headlocking his own head. Kind of a freaky cover!
In Japan, this game was known as Gokuaku Doumei Dump Matsumoto. In the Japanese version, the graphics are different and it revolves around the famous female wrestler Dump Matsumoto and her stable Gokuaku Doumei and their feud with another stable called the Fresh Gals which featured the Crush Gals and the Jumping Bomb Angels. The North American version features four teams to pick from: The Crush Brothers (Elder and Younger Crusher), the Orient Express (Dragonfly and Giant Bull), the Mad Soldiers (Muscle and Iron Soldier) and the Great Maskmen (Green Mask and Stone Head).
GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Starting with the title screen, the graphics are really good in this game. The title screen features a bulging background and when you press start, a wrestler burts through flashing the "peace sign". The matches start by each team doing their entrance with their respective theme songs ,which is a nice touch as entrance animations for wrestling games in this era were pretty rare. By comparison, Nintendo's "Pro Wrestling" (which I may be biased towards but I think is all around at least a slightly better game) didn't bother with entrances or themes for every wrestler.
The art style of the game is very colorful and cartoonish. All of the wrestlers look unique and detailed. The audience is pretty amusing because they always look like they're in a state of shock no matter what is happening. They seem to always have wide eyes and gaping mouths.
Some of the animations for the moves are a little lacking. For instance if your opponent is running at you and you do a back drop on them, it basicaly just looks like you lean over and flip them by only using the top of your head. Also, the tags are not "tags". Just like WWF Wrestlemania Challenge, when you tag your partner, they just leap in the ring superhero style over the top rope. You could argue though that things like this are part of the cartoonish style of the game and don't neccesarily detract from the overall experience. The referee looks to be as big or even slightly bigger than the wrestlers, which is a little strange. All of the colors used in this game are especially bright and pleasing to look at and as I said, it kind of reminds me of watching a cartoon.
GAMEPLAY: First, you choose one of the four teams and then you compete against the other three teams in 10-fall matches. The 10-fall matches are a little repetitive in my opinion, but I'm assuming the developers used this tactic to "stretch out" the game time. since there are only three other teams to compete with.
The matches start by either punching or kicking your opponent a few times until they're prone on the mat and then you can either grapple them with a move of some sort or whip them into the ropes for a different attack. There aren't many moves per wrestler (only a couple), but each wrestler does feel somewhat unique. In certain situations, you can throw your opponent to the ringside area, where there is a folding chair for the heel teams to use. If you're controlling a babyface team then all you can do is touch the chair to make it disappear so that it can't be used on you.
I think this game wouldn't be quite so repetitive if it wasn't for the strict tag team only bouts. If you had 8 individual wrestlers instead of four teams, or if you could at least change who your partner was, then it would keep things from getting too monotonous.
VERDICT: All in all, I like this game. It's not quite as good as it's namesake on the NES, but the art style of the game is really colorful and unique. It's also pretty fun to play, if only in short bursts. It has a nice arcade quality to it that reminds me a little of Tag Team Wrestling which, come to think of it, would have been a more appropriate name for this game. All that being said (and with bonus points for probably the weirdest cover art ever), I give it 3 stars.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!