Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.
"Body Slams and Back Drops. Lariats and Pile Drivers. Be a part of the action with Wrestle War from Sega!"
Sega never made a lot of wrestling games but they made a couple. The one we took a look at previously (around a couple of years ago at this point... time flies!), Pro Wrestling for the Sega Master System, ended up being a pretty decent game. It paled a little in comparison to the NES Pro Wrestling game, though. Wrestle War was their second attempt at creating a pro wrestling game for their home console (this time being the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive) so let's take a look at how this one turned out.
Wrestle War was originally released for the arcades in 1989. Coincidently, that was also the first year that WCW ran its pay-per-view of the same name (I assume it was coincidence, anyway; unless one company involved was just trying to capitalize on the other's namesake - the two products seem to be unrelated). This game, like a lot of unlicensed wrestling games at the time, does use "parodies" of actual pro wrestlers for their roster but not all of them were WCW stars. There's also some WWF and Japanese stars thrown in.
In 1991, after Wrestle War had floated around the arcades for a couple of years and was deemed worthy enough, it was released for Sega's home consoles. It was never released in North America, though - only in Australia, Europe, and Japan. Japan even got its own special cover that featured an obvious Hulk Hogan rip-off. Literally, it looks like someone sketched the Hulkster without changing a single thing.
Outside of Japan, where you can't get away with such things, the cover was changed to portray the wrestler you play as during the game; Bruce Blade. Brucie also happened to be a completely original wrestler based off of no one so nobody could possibly sue Sega into oblivion thus robbing us of all the great games they've made over the years. Smart move on their part, I'd say.
Now, let's take a minute to have a more in-depth look at the game's roster. There are nine wrestlers available if you include the aforementioned "you character" of Bruce Blade. He's a little generic, but he reminds me of "Fighter Hayabusa" from the NES version of Pro Wrestling. Oddly, the instruction manual refers to Blade as a "blonde haired wonderboy" but he's neither blonde (he has black hair) or looks particularly young so I'm not sure what's up with that description. The rest of the roster goes as follows...
Mohawk Kid - Based off of no one, in particular, Mohawk Kid is a rookie who's move set is limited but he has a lot of heart and determination to make it to the top.
Don Dambuster - Based off of Road Warrior Hawk. Come on, you can't have a late 80s - early 90s wrestling game without the obligatory "Road Warrior character", right? When it comes to video games or wrestling personas in general, the Road Warriors have been ripped off more than a male stripper's tear-away pants.
Mr. J - Based on horror movie character Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise. This is an odd choice for a wrestler in a game but why not, I guess. His skin is purple to make him appear monstrous, I suppose, and he wrestles in his patented hockey mask.
Nim Rod Falcon - Based on various luchadors, he probably has the weirdest name in the game.
Titan Morgan - The previously mentioned Hulk Hogan rip-off character who graces the Japanese cover art for this game.
Sledge Hammer - Based on Bruiser Brody. You can't have a Japanese wrestling game that doesn't include Bruiser Brody, can you? Truly one of the gods of Japanese pro wrestling.
Buckskin Rodgers - Based on half-blind and double-tough, Stan Hansen.
Grand Kong - Based on Abdullah the Butcher, complete with nasty looking forehead scars!
The graphics look nice for this game. It has a simple yet somehow detailed presentation. The screen isn't "too busy". There's not too much going on at once but what's done is done well. The wrestlers feature big colorful sprites and all of the animations are finely detailed. For example, whenever Don Dambuster does a fist drop, you can look at it and tell that it's a Road Warrior Hawk fist drop. It looks exactly like his version of the move. You can even watch the wrestlers breathe during the match although they do seem to be "blown up" from the opening bell... always taking deep breaths. One negative aspect of the game's presentation is the fact that sometimes the game will abruptly change "camera angles", mid-move. It's a little disorienting but it doesn't happen all of the time so it's not a deal-breaker as far as this game being good or not.
The move set utilized by the wrestlers is a little small but that's to be expected. There are some differences on which moves certain wrestlers can and can't-do, though, which helps the realism. Hawk has his fist drop, Hogan has his leg drop, Hansen has his lariat at his disposal and so on. The action even has the potential to spill to the ringside area. Here, often times, there's either a chair or a large First Aid kit (ironically enough) that you can smash over your opponent's head. Surprisingly, even though this was originally a Japanese release, the gameplay utilizes the North American style of button mashing as opposed to the usual Japanese style of patience and timed button presses. I guess that made it unique at the time, at least to the Japanese audience who weren't as used to that style of play.
All in all, I enjoyed my brief time with this game. I'm not sure how long the enjoyment would last, though. Even for the standards of the time; it's pretty simple. It's good but... it's simple. There's no real depth to it. There are some interesting characters here, though, so playing with a second player while enjoying an adult beverage or two would probably end up being pretty fun. I may have to try that some time.
I never got to play this game when it came out, but nowadays with all the adapters and retro-themed consoles available, it's nowhere near as hard to play foreign releases as it used to be. If you do get a chance, this game is one that's worth giving a try.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!