Today, I wanted to look at a wrestling game that is almost universally praised. You won't find anyone who can say much of anything negative this one. Hell, even non-wrestling fans remember it fondly just for being a great fighting game. It was so popular after its release that it sold 1.88 million copies in the United States alone and even won 1998's "Fighting Game of the Year" by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
Developed by AKI Corporation and released by THQ in October 1998; Revenge is the direct sequel to AKI's WCW/nWo World Tour released the year prior. World Tour was also an extremely popular game upon its release but it got eclipsed by Revenge just because of all the in-game improvements made. AKI took the formula they created with WCW/nWo World Tour and really perfected it this time around making an already great game into an even greater sequel!
Before we get down to discussing the game itself; let's start by taking a look at the cover. The artwork features two wrestlers representing the nWo (Hollywood Hogan and Kevin Nash) in a "face-off" with two wrestlers representing WCW (Goldberg and Raven?).
I kinda question Raven being featured in the cover art here. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Raven fan. I just question whether he was the best pick (alongside Goldberg) to represent the nWo vs WCW feud that was ongoing at the time and which was being featured heavily in this game. An odd choice in my opinion but congrats to Raven for making the cover of a video game, nonetheless. I'm almost certain it's the only one he's ever been on and that includes the two official ECW games that were released.
Once I start this game up; I'm reminded of how weird I always thought the intro was. The screen informs us it's Atlanta, 1998, and we see an unmarked semi-truck with a trailer barreling down the highway. Cut to the next scene and Sting is standing in the middle of the highway blocking the approaching truck by standing in the middle of the road alongside two gravestones (I guess that's what they are) that for some reason appear to be on fire. The truck driver slams on his brakes and exclaims "What!?!" and then we cut to what has to be 5 minutes worth of clips of gameplay footage from the game itself while music of a questionable quality plays.
Once we get past the intro, you can see the match options we have to tinker with. There aren't many but pretty standard for the time nonetheless. I can't really complain. When you first start playing; you'll want to spend most of your time working your way through Championship Mode. This is how you unlock the secret characters in the game and most of them are worth the effort.
By winning the various WCW titles in Championship mode you can unlock Billy Kidman (This is why I said "most" were worth the effort. Sorry, Kidman.), Kanyon/Mortis (alternate outfits), Curt Hennig, The Faces Of Fear (Meng and The Barbarian), and even Roddy Piper! I do have to say, though, that Roddy Piper is looking "beefier" here than I've ever seen him look in real life. It seems like the programmers were being very liberal with his body-type.
Aside from the secret characters, the whole roster features the top stars of WCW and the nWo at the time. They're even broken down into factions - nWo Hollywood, nWo Wolfpac, WCW, and even Raven's Flock. Hey... I guess that's why Raven is on the cover: his faction is one of the four featured in the game. It makes a little more sense now.
There are also two "fantasy factions" that AKI used to throw in their usual wacky wrestling characters like THQ Man (I suppose taking the place of AKI Man from previous AKI Corporation wrestling games), Dr. Frank, and Maya Inca Boy, among others.
The graphics don't look great here but they were pretty damn good for the era. Especially considering this is the N64 we're dealing with which was much "weaker" than it's competition at the time. One improvement this game has over its predecessor is AKI's inclusion of actual WCW-themed arenas here (like Nitro, Starrcade, and nWo Souled out, etc.) instead of the generic arenas they previously provided us with.
They also updated a lot of animations for the various finishing moves to make them look better. For instance, in WCW/nWo World Tour, Kevin Nash used a generic powerbomb for his finisher. Here in Revenge, when he performs his finisher, you can really tell that it's Nash performing his patented Jackknife Powerbomb. Little touches like that help make this classic even that much better.
I had a great time revisiting this party-game classic. Not many games made better use of the N64's simultaneous 4-player capabilities better than this! I spent many late nights with friends pulling an old-school "WCW All-Nighter" with this one. This one ranks in the top-5 wrestling video games of all-time, for sure.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!