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"Charge down to ringside!!! Never before have the WWF Superstars looked so real! They're bigger, mightier and tougher than ever before! ....do you have the guts to become the next WWF champion?"
Let's go back in time for a minute, as we often do here. It's early 1992. For me, as an 11 year-old, the WWF was really starting to catch my attention. I mean, I always watched it but I just started to "care a little more" with feuds like the Mega Powers versus the Mega Bucks and The Ultimate Warrior versus Papa Shango (my personal favorite Charles Wright gimmick). For the record, I had never been more shocked in my short life at that point than I was when Papa Shango apparently put a curse on The Ultimate Warrior and made him vomit black slime or whatever it was. It surely seems cheesy and over the top now but as a youngster, I was truly concerned for The Warrior. It was also around this time that superstars like Shawn Michaels and British Bulldog were at the top of their game.
As a gamer, of course I wanted the latest WWF game so as to be able to play as these superstars myself which is this game we're discussing today. WWF Super Wrestlemania was released on both the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis in early 1992. There are a few differences between the two releases. Both were developed by Sculptured Software but the SNES version was published by LJN, while the Genesis version was published by Flying Edge, which was a division of Acclaim that published their fair share of WWF games in their time.
Both versions are similar but the SNES version features a bigger and somewhat different roster while the Genesis version has a slightly smaller roster but it also has "finishing moves" for each wrestler that the SNES version doesn't contain. It's sort of a toss up as far as that goes. I mean, would you rather have a couple of extra superstars to play as or would you rather to be able to do their respective signature moves? Personally, I'd lean towards being able to do the signature moves. On old games like this, that's almost the only thing that makes each wrestler unique from one another.
The rosters for the games break down as follows; both games include Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase. The Super Nintendo version has Jake Roberts, The Undertaker, Sid Justice, The Natural Disasters and The Legion Of Doom. The Genesis version includes Papa Shango, The Ultimate Warrior, The British Bulldog, IRS and Shawn Michaels. Both games have a great roster so it's hard to say which one is better. Both versions are different enough in this aspect to warrant having a copy of each, I believe. This was probably the intention of the developers at the time in order to sell more copies of both. There were a lot of people who had both 16-bit consoles, myself included, so it's a pretty good tactic to boost sales.
Once we get down to playing the game, the title screen features Hulk Hogan, which is no surprise. If Hulk Hogan was featured in a game back then, you can pretty much bet he's on the cover and is featured on the title screen. Right away we hear the patented, gritty, "tinny" sound that is all music on Genesis games - not just this one. I personally don't have the SNES version of this game to compare it with but, as in most cases, I assume the game sounds better on that console. I always liked the unique sound of Genesis games myself, but they do sound "different", that's for sure. The superstars faces on the wrestler select screen look really good but once the matches start, they take a slight downgrade; still passable though. Not bad. I want to say Papa Shango looks nice with his facepaint (and he does) but, since I'm mentioning him so much, I'm starting to just think I have this weird obsession with him.... Regardless, I'm going to mention him one more time towards the end of this review so, you make the call on that.
You can choose a few different match types to play. Both versions have singles, tag and Survivor Series matches available and there's also a WWF Championship mode that's exclusive to the Genesis version. This mode is just a "beat everyone else on the roster and then you get the belt" type of mode that was pretty standard for these types of games. The matches are all done in the standard, North American style of "tug of war" which is a nicer way of saying "button mashing". Basically, you lock up with your opponent and franticaly mash buttons and whoever is fastest gets to perform their move. This always presents problems because while your mashing all of the buttons to win the "tug of war," you're not really able to concentrate on the actual button you want to press to do whatever move you want to do. Usually, you mash buttons and whatever one you happen to hit last ends up becoming the random move you end up doing.
The moves are pretty limited but for the time, it was again, standard. I've seen plenty of games with smaller movesets. Here, you can at least punch, kick, headbutt, irish whip, dropkick, slam, jump off the top ropes, do a few ground attacks and utilize your signature move when the time is right. All in all, not bad. The AI and adjustable difficuly levels are also well balanced. If it becomes too easy to obliterate your opponent, you can just turn it up a notch.
Final verdict; this is a pretty decent game. It was the first of the "16-bit trilogy" of WWF games that consisted of Super WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and WWF RAW, which I previously reviewed last year. Also, it's possibly the only game to feature Papa Shango (there goes my final mention of him) so, that makes it stand out a little bit more as well. To be honest, the two latter games in the trilogy are probably more fun to play (especially WWF RAW) but both versions of this game have great rosters featuring superstars that aren't featured on the later games so they're still woth checking out. When I get my hands on a copy of the Super Nintendo version of this, I'll give that one a more in depth review also but until then, we know the Genesis version is playable and can be a fair amount of fun at least for awhile.
Until next time, keep mashing those buttons.... (especially in games like this!)