WWE WrestleMania XIX
"The legacy continues with WrestleMania XIX, which features deeper move sets and a more strategic reversal system. Choose among an updated list of top WWE superstars, each with realistic abilities, including strength, speed, and stamina. You can become a legend by battling your way through five stages and more than 25 missions in an effort to destroy Vince's empire. Team up with Stephanie McMahon along the way as you win back your status in the WWE."
When I first bought my GameCube back in 2003 (I didn't buy one at launch; I waited a couple of years after it was released), this was the first game I absolutely HAD to try. It's not like I had heard great things about it or it had a lot of hype because, to be honest, I was completely unfamiliar with it. It was because Wrestlemania XIX was the latest WWE game released at the time and was a GameCube exclusive title. I figured if any game was gonna introduce me to what the GameCube wrestling game scene was like; this one would be it.
Wrestlemania XIX was developed by long-running WWE developers, Yukes, and was released by THQ on September 8, 2003. THQ always makes me think of Acclaim because the two companies both released wrestling titles over the years and their stories are pretty much the same - they both managed to stay towards the top of video game publishing companies until one day, due to releasing too many sub-par games and/or questionable business decisions; the bottom fell out of both companies and they folded, fading into history. Was this game perhaps one of the reasons that THQ eventually went out of business? Let's take a look at what we're dealing with here and then we can speculate for ourselves.
The intro for this game is okay. Not great but passable. It's basically clips of Wrestlemania XIX from earlier that year with some of the top superstars in the game like Kurt Angle, and Triple H explaining what Wrestlemania means to them. It's actually very well done, but it's done in a sort of somber and serious way. Usually, you expect a video game to start off with an intro of fast, loud music getting you pumped to play it. This intro just plays more like a vignette you'd see on WWE programming than a video game introduction.
The controls for this game are very similar to the classic WWF No Mercy on the N64 so there aren't any complaints there. There are a few complaints depending on which match type you're playing in, though. In tables matches, your matches can seemingly be over in a minute or so a lot of the times because, even from the start of the match, you or your opponent can be slammed through a table at any time. They really should have put in some sort of "stamina meter" during tables matches to prevent that from happening. Cage matches also seem to be on the short side because the wrestlers involved can climb the cage way too quickly. I'm glad they refined that over the years. Aside from these problems, there are more than a few match types available including Hell In A Cell, TLC, along with the ones I mentioned.
The roster for this game is pretty big and a lot of interesting superstars are included such as The Dudleys, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, and even the math genius and "Big Bad Booty Daddy" himself; Scott Steiner. All of the wrestlers ring entrances don't look great now but at the time they were pretty good. Hogan's entrance even features him ripping his shirt off in true Hulk Hogan style! Again, like all the entrances, the shirt rip animation doesn't look that great but it was pretty cool for the time.
Now, we move on to my main problem with this particular game. This was the dealbreaker for me - a complete lack of a proper "story mode." At the time, I was all about the story mode in wrestling games. Taking on challengers, going through storylines, and rising to the top of the WWE. That was all I was interested in while playing wrestling video games. Little did I know when I purchased this game; it doesn't have a story mode. It has "Revenge Mode."
The only actual wrestling match you have in Revenge Mode is the final showdown with Vince at WrestleMania. This infuriated me and I'm not even exaggerating much. I was pretty pissed off to have the one reason I bought wrestling games at the time taken away.
Not long after purchasing this game and one other dud of the non-wrestling game variety; I decided to get rid of my GameCube because I figured it had nothing to offer that my PS2 couldn't already do better. It would be generations of consoles down the line before I ever bought a Nintendo console again but I will say that, after many years of ignoring Nintendo products after being disappointed like this, I'm am very pleased with my Switch nowadays. They won me back.
This game is actually pretty good. There aren't many glaring complaints with its presentation or gameplay. Like I said, my only major problem with it was being blindsided to the fact that it didn't have a story mode included. Other than that; it's worth a play yet I'd hardly call it a classic of the genre.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!