Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy -
The Path Of The Superhero
Game Boy Advance
"His unwilling arrival on Earth comes conspicuously close to the legendary Muscle League Champions' embarrassing beating at the hands of the d.M.p, a devious new breed of evil wrestling super villains. The Muscle League has recruited King Muscle's own son to reinvigorate their falling fortunes! And they've enlisted and trained a whole new generation of heroes to take on the diabolical d.M.p and save the planet!!".
A lot of you older readers may remember the tiny, uni-colored figures from the 80s called M.U.S.C.L.E. A lot of you also may know about the terrible, seizure-inducing game on the NES based on these figures called Tag Team Match: M.U.S.C.L.E that I've previously reviewed. Well, both of these were based on the manga/anime Kinnikuman (Muscle Man) about a superhero wrestler who must win a tournament to reclaim the title of prince of Planet Kinniku. I've seen what few episodes of this anime that I've been able to and I enjoy it a lot, actually. Then, in the early 2000s, here in the West, we started to see a new Kinnikuman series being aired called Ultimate Muscle that featured Kinnikuman's son, Kid Muscle. This was also a great show that is thankfully more easily viewed than its predecessor and that brings us to this game which is based on that series.
Developed by ShunDa and released by Bandai on June 5, 2003, this game drops us right into the story arc of Kid Muscle waging a constant battle against the dMp (Destruction, Mayhem, and Pain) which is a faction composed of "demon wrestlers". You don't need to watch the show or be familiar with the plot of the series to enjoy the game, though. When it comes down to it; this is just a wrestling game filled with wacky characters so it's easy to just pick up and play.
When I start to play, I can see there are quite a few options to choose from when picking a match type. You can start by doing some training and then practice by trying a VS match. You can also choose to do a "Survival", 3 vs 3 Tag Match, or even try out the story mode. Not bad for a Game Boy Advance wrestling title. I chose to play through the story and we'll get to that but first, let's take a look at some of the intergalactic grapplers we have to choose from on the roster.
The roster for this is quite large, considering. There are 19 to choose from in all and I really like that because the over-the-top characters are the best thing about this anime. Some of my favorites featured in this game are Dial-bolic, who's an evil, giant cell phone, Checkmate, who can shapeshift into the form of different chess pieces, Ramenman, who appears to be a giant cup of Ramen noodles, and the awesomely named Dik Dik Van Dik, who is some sort of anthropomorphic gazelle creature. There are plenty of unique choices here to utilize to defeat your foes.
As I mentioned, I decided to play through the story mode and that requires you to wrestle as Kid Muscle which is fine by me. He may be a little less over-the-top than the others but still a very funny character. In fact, during the first cutscene, he already drops his pants to moon and taunt Dial-bolic before their match. The basic story is King Muscle and his superhero friends thought they had defeated every supervillain on Earth until one day, some sort of spacecraft crash lands, and out comes the dMp. The dMp is basically like the nWo. Both logos are even very similar. Now, it's up to Kid Muscle and the younger generation of fighters to take on the new foes who threaten Earth by doing what else... defeating them in pro wrestling matches.
All of the cutscenes for the story mode are really well done and have the same style of humor as the anime series. You really can't complain at all about this aspect of the game or any aspect so far, really. It seems like a top-notch game and the addition of Mac Metaphor and The Doc "commentating" your matches as they do in the show is also a really nice detail.
The graphics all look really good and the matches themselves play out nicely. Each wrestler has a big and varied move-set that's unique to their character which is another similarity with the anime. No one shares hardly any moves if any at all, so it makes it fun to keep playing while trying out all of the different wrestlers on the roster. The main thing about wrestling games is the grappling system and the one used for this game is pretty unique but nicely implemented. When you initiate a grapple; a meter appears on the side of the screen and you have to time your button press with the motion of the meter. It takes a little getting used to but I like it.
My final verdict is that this game is pretty awesome. Much, much better than its predecessor on the NES. As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed watching this anime and this game is a great companion piece to go along with it. I would suggest that everyone should check this out. Even if you aren't a fan of the anime; this is still a pretty fun and pretty solid wrestling game.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!