Shin Nippon Pro Wrestling:
Chou Senshi in Tokyo Dome
Super Famicom / Super Nintendo
I've been a huge fan of Japanese puroresu games ever since I first found out how easy it is to play them on a North American Super Nintendo. Seriously, you just have to physically clip a couple of pins inside you SNES in order for the cartridge to fit. Kind of like giving your Super Nintendo a circumcision, I suppose. Just a little snip... okay, sorry for that unnecessary imagery but you get the idea - super easy.
The game I'd like to take a look at today happens to be the first official New Japan Pro Wrestling game that I've ever played. All of the other puroresu games I've played were either Fire Pro Wrestling games, Joshi games, or classic All Japan Pro Wrestling games. I'm interested to see how New Japan stood up alongside its 16-bit competitors at the time.
Shin Nippon Pro Wrestling: Chou Senshi in Tokyo Dome (which translates to New Japan Pro Wrestling: Super Warriors in Tokyo Dome) was developed by and released by Varie on September 14, 1993. Varie was an active company between 1986 and 1997 and released its fair share of games but, as is the case with this game, most of their video games never made it out of Japan. That leaves me sadly and apologetically unfamiliar with them for the most part. Nonetheless, we'll see what they were able to pull off with the NJPW license here.
Just the game's box art itself kinda makes you wanna give it a try featuring pictures of Jushin "Thunder" Liger and a particularly sinister looking Great Muta. Well, I guess that's two puroresu legends that are featured in this game. Off to a great start!
Once you start the game up; it features a pretty cool title screen with some really nice music. Seriously, I'm digging the title theme. In fact, all of the music in this game is really well done including the wrestlers' various theme songs. You get to hear all of the wrestlers' themes as you compete against them in matches. That's also a pretty nice touch. It keeps the in-match music from getting stale or annoying by constantly changing it up depending on who you're currently competing against.
As far as match types go... there aren't many. This is a Super Nintendo game so that is to be expected but even so, the options are very limited here. You can choose to either have a single match against an opponent or to compete in the G-1 Climax against multiple opponents, one after the next. This game does allow you to at least compete in tag team matches if you so choose, but out of all the wrestlers on the roster; there aren't really any classic tag teams included.
Speaking of the roster (despite the lack of any classic teams), it's filled with the top singles competitors in NJPW at the time. Aside from the "poster boys", Liger and Muta, the rest of the roster fills out as follows - Hiroshi Hase, Riki Choshu, Big Van Vader, Scott Norton, Tony Halme (a/k/a WWF's Ludvig Borga), Tatsumi Fujinami, Shinya Hashimoto, and Masahiro Chono. This roster of 10 has a nice blend of Japanese stars and foreign talent which is very representative of the NJPW promotion at the time. Now, if you'll allow me to yet again paraphrase one of my favorite catchphrases from Jim Ross; now we're past all the sizzle and moving on to the steak of having an actual match in this lengthily titled Super Nintendo puroresu classic.
Sadly, the in-ring action is where this particular game falls behind its other 16-bit counterparts. The pre-match introductions of the wrestlers is a nice touch and Vader even does his old school taunt of placing his Mastodon headgear on the mat to "blow off some steam," so to speak. I always loved it when he did that. The graphics look great and are brightly colored and finely detailed. All of the wrestlers look very much like their real-life counterparts even. So far, no complaints. As I mentioned, though, the complaint department gets more than it can handle once the in-ring action actually starts.
To begin with, every wrestler in this game moves at a snail's pace. It feels like you're wrestling a match underwater or battling through a shit-ton of lag. Anyone who's played a fighting game online against an opponent who's either cheating or who needs to seriously upgrade their internet service can feel my pain here. Not fun.
Despite the graphics themselves looking very detailed and well done; the animations for the wrestlers' various moves don't look very smooth at all. The controls also feel pretty clunky compared to other puroresu games of its era. The move-sets for the different combatants also seem a little limited and I'm not sure if or how you're able to do a "finishing move." They may be in-game but I have yet to figure out how to pull any off.
After playing this game for a while, I can see why it stayed in "the land of the rising sun" and didn't make it's way stateside in any sort of re-skinned version like some puroresu games did - it's just not that fun. This was Varie's first attempt at a wrestling game, though, so I'll have to check out their other two NJPW games on the Super Nintendo in the future to see if they made any improvements on this slightly sub-par title.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!