"WWF RAW slams your senses with the most ruthless mat mayhem ever! The hottest WWF superstars- each with their own signature move, wild tag-team action, and grueling Survivor Series bouts stand between you and the Championship belt. This is WWF RAW... and Raw is War"
I've previously reviewed WWF Raw for the Super Nintendo and, even though it has its flaws, it was still one of my favorite games of the 16-bit era, at the time. Today, I wanted to take a look at the version that was released for the Game Boy because I've never tried that particular version of this game before. Can it somehow stack up to its heavyweight, console counterpart? We shall see...
This handheld version of WWF Raw was developed by Realtime Associates as opposed to Sculptured Software who did the console versions. Realtime Associates has some decent games in their library like Beavis and Butthead (the SNES version), the superhero crossover game Iron Man and X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal (PlayStation/Sega Saturn), and one of my favorite retro-compilations for the PlayStation 2, Intellivision Lives!. Here, they're working within the restraints of the original, monochromatic Game Boy, though, so, let's see what they came up with.
WWF Raw was released for the Game Boy in November 1994, around the same time as its other ports were released on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. This port starts with a decent (albeit somewhat rudimentary) version of the WWF Raw theme that plays during the title screen. I notice right away that the title screen and menus are "broken" into different sections on your viewing screen, as if to resemble the iconic "Titantron", which is made out of many screens, connected together, acting as one. That's a pretty cool artistic choice for them to go with here. A small detail that adds some "authenticity" to the mix.
Our choices for match types are One on One, Tag Team, and Survivor Series. I guess those are pretty self-explanatory. You can also choose to modify the singles matches with a "one fall", "brawl", or "tournament" modifier. With the "brawl" option, both wrestlers in the match compete until one is "knocked out" due to lack of energy. With the tournament option, you (fairly obviously) wrestle all the other wrestlers on the roster, trying to be the best there is (if not also the best there was and the best there ever will be, perhaps).
Once you check out the roster; you can see we are missing a few familiar faces from the Super Nintendo port. This game lacks Owen Hart, 123 Kid, Bam Bam Bigelow, and one of my personal favorites of that game's roster, Luna Vachon. We still get to choose from 8 different superstars here so I guess we can't complain too much. I will say that the picture used to identify Diesel, in-game, looks an awful lot like Ricky from Trailer Park Boys. Perhaps there's a code to add Bubbles and/or Julian to the game and then form a team? However farfetched of an idea that might be, you gotta admit, it'd be pretty awesome. Since this game predates that particular television show; I'm sure it's merely a coincidence but man, Diesel's "pompadour" in the pic looks just right for the role!
The graphics all look as well as can be expected for a Game Boy game but once you start to actually play it, as you may have already guessed, this game just isn't that fun. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing terrible about it but there's also nothing groundbreaking either. This game pretty much plays like a "light" version of its console counterpart and it isn't even half as nice to look at.
The A button punches and the B button kicks and, if you press them both together, you grapple your opponent. After a grapple is initiated by you or your opponent; you button-mash the hell out of the left and right directions on the D-pad to try to overpower your opponent. If you can gain enough of an advantage; you can then press A, B, up, or down to do a move.
Sadly, it seems like all Superstars share the same move set and there doesn't seem to be any finishers or special moves that you can pull off. The steel chair that occasionally appears ringside in the console ports also seems to be missing. That's a shame because smashing that iconic piece of pro wrestling plunder over my opponent's head was always a highlight for me when playing the SNES version of WWF Raw.
To sum things up, I'm glad I got to check this game out after all these years of not having played it. It's a decent, handheld diversion that you can kill a few minutes with on occasion. I wouldn't recommend wasting too much time searching it out like some sort of pro wrestling, video game Holy Grail, though. It's just not that good. If you happen to run across a copy in the wild, it might be worth picking up but this isn't even the only handheld port of this game that was produced. There's a Sega Game Gear version that I have yet to play that features "bonus Superstars" like "Macho Man" Randy Savage that you can play as. I can only assume that would be the better handheld version of this particular game and maybe one day we'll take a look at it here and find out for ourselves.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!