The Main Event
"AN ALL-STAR GAME!"
This time, we take another trip to the arcade. More specifically, in my case, I used to play this game at the local skating rink, Skatetown USA. Yeah, I know that sounds like a made up name but I kid you not. This particular game ate up a lot of my quarters back then. To be honest, I never really was that good of a roller skater. I skated some but I always had more fun just playing games and eating a greasy slice of pizza from the concession stand.
Konami unleashed The Main Event to the masses in 1988. The last time I reviewed a pro wrestling game made by Konami (Jikkyo Power Pro Wrestling '96: Max Voltage), it was a really great game despite the language barrier. Max Voltage was a deep wrestling simulation game with lots of characters. This game is absolutely nothing like that. Don't worry, it could still be decent.
The game has a nice theme to start out. It sounds a little reminiscent of Hulk Hogan's "Real American" theme to me. We'll very soon find out that a lot of things in this game are reminiscent of other things. By "very soon" I mean right away, as soon as you see the wrestler select screen. Almost all of these guys are instantly recognizable stars, almost exclusively and more specifically, the top superstars in the WWF at the time. You can instantly spot the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Ricky Steamboat and more.
This game has to rip-off real wrestlers more than any other game I've ever seen simply because most of the images used for the wrestler select screen and "winning screen" after a match literally looks like they took a picture of the actual wrestler they were making a "parody" of, digitized the image, and then just quickly added some extra "props" to make the wrestler look slightly different.
For example, the Andre the Giant character looks like an actual picture of Andre with just some red hair and a beard drawn over it. The King Kong Bundy character looks exactly like a picture of Bundy with a ginger "skullet" added to his bald head. You get the picture. In fact, the "Ricky Steamboat character" just looks exactly like Ricky Steamboat. They didn't even change a single thing! Since we're talking about the boys, let's go ahead and take a look at the full roster.
Conan the Great - Literally Hulk Hogan with a full head of hair.
The Maui Mauler - This guy is a little more ambiguous. Some say he represents Haku but to me, he looks a lot like Randy Savage. Also, Savage was the bigger star of the two at the time so, he's my guess as to who The Maui Mauler represents.
Kamikaze Ken - Ricky Steamboat with basically no alterations made.
San Antonio Smasher - Koko B. Ware with very little alterations made. The only difference I see is that The Smasher appears to have cornrows and I don't remember Koko ever having that hairstyle. Other than that, it looks like Frankie's caretaker all the way.
El Condor - Kind of a weird character. Just sort of a thrown in luchador in a game full of WWF Superstars. I assume he's supposed to be El Canek.
Saturn Six - He doesn't look exactly like one of the team members of Demolition but that's obviously who he's based on.
Bigfoot Joe - the aforementioned King Kong Bundy lookalike with a ginger "skullet" hairstyle.
Alan The Empire - Between his picture and his name, this guy couldn't be more obviously based on Andre the Giant.
This being an arcade game, you should expect it to keep things fairly simple and straightforward. Here your only play option is to pick two wrestlers you want as your tag team and then wrestle against the other guys on the roster, all split into different teams. I always picked the two giants, Alan The Empire and Bigfoot Joe. It never seemed to make much difference, though. I was never that good at this one.
As far as The Main Event goes, if you lose a match, you don't necessarily lose the game. There's an "energy bar" that goes down as you wrestle. If you lose, your energy takes an extra hit. When you run out of energy all together through long matches and losing, you get a "Game Over". If you win matches, you gain an energy boost. You can also insert more coins to get an energy boost but this seems like a rip-off more than anything. The control layout for this game is pretty unique, at least as far as wrestling games go. There are only a joystick and one oversized "action button" that would flash whenever a move could be performed. Depending on whether your opponent was dazed or not and your given situation in the ring, the action button would perform different moves. It actually works pretty well, believe it or not.
The game looks and sounds really good. Its various themes are well done and there's even an enthusiastic commentator calling all of the action. He gets a little repetitive at times but it's still a nice touch. One drawback is the matched are really short and fast-paced. It's basically designed that way because the quicker you win, the more energy you have to carry over into the next match. It makes each match a "rush to the pinfall", though, which isn't always fun.
All in all, this game isn't bad. I enjoyed it a lot back in the day. It doesn't hold up quite as good as I remember, though. If I had to pick between the two Konami pro wrestling games I've played - Max Voltage is the much better game. Still, this game is worth checking out at least for the amusingly blatant rip-off characters.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!