Steel Cage Challenge
Growing up, I was a pretty big fan of wrestling console games. Whether it was NES, SNES or even Sega Genesis, I pretty much owned all of them at one point or another. In fact, I spent so much time playing WrestleMania Challenge, etc. that we usually ended up losing the cases they came with, as the cartridge itself had gained permanent residency in the console. So by the time I'd finally exhausted the game, it needed to occupy a spot in the case of, say, Ecco The Dolphin or Taz Mania.
One game I never owned, however, was WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge.
It may have been because WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge was only available on Sega Game Gear back in 1993 (at least, that appeared to be the case in Canada), but I never owned that title. So when the 25th Anniversary edition came out last year as a plug and play... I knew this would tick off some nostalgia boxes.
Right from the get go, something seems a little bit... off about the game. Perhaps it's that they've changed the WWF logo to the more recent "WW" version used for legends licensing and what have you. Or perhaps that a grunting Ultimate Warrior greets you in the opening screen -- strange considering he wasn't even part of the company back in 1993!
Clearly, this game had to make some concessions, chief among them being that Hulk Hogan wasn't exactly in WWE's good books at the time of this game being re-released for 2018.... thus he was replaced by his WrestleMania VI opponent instead.
There are quite a few other characters missing besides The Hulkster. From the Nintendo version, you don't have The Mountie, Ric Flair and Tatanka. From the Sega version, they're missing Shawn Michaels and Papa Shango.
The playable characters you're left with are Bret Hitman Hart, Irwin R. Schyster, Jake The Snake Roberts, Randy Macho Man Savage, Razor Ramon (who, like Warrior, also did not appear in either version of the original game), Rowdy Roddy Piper, Sid Justice, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Ultimate Warrior and The Undertaker.
There are three primary modes of gameplay: singles matches, tag team matches and steel cage matches. There are also tournament modes and easy, medium and hard settings for each match. Once you've chosen your wrestler, the computer chooses your opponent(s).
Each wrestler has a version of their entrance music which, even by Nintendo standards, is pretty awful. They gave Ultimate Warrior generic music! And then a hybrid of Mean Gene Okerlund and Howard Finkel announces each competitor while their crappy 8-Bit music plays in the background.
The graphics -- and here, I'm attempting to channel my inner Adam Zimmerman to ensure the correct video game technology is used -- blow big greasy chunks. I mean, how is this Razor Ramon and Randy Savage? How are these even human beings? This wouldn't pass muster on IntelliVision.
Beyond the horrific graphics, the background sounds are also lousy. You have a "generic audience cheering" noise that was probably lifted from the Atari 2600, and some very poor audio of wrestling moves being exchanged. I can't understate this enough: even by 1993 standards, this is terrible and arguably the worst part of the game for me.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention steel cage mode which -- once again using only Grappling Gamer-approved technology -- sucks 10 different kinds of ass. The only difference between this and a regular match is that the object is to climb to the top of the structure and then do a little jig on the top post, signaling either victory or a really early version of a seven-second dance break.
Is WWE WrestleMania Steel Cage Challenge worth your money? Well.... no. Not at all. Not in any way, shape or form. But if you get it as a gift (as I did), there's nothing wrong with firing it up for a quick nostalgia buzz and then turning it off immediately after because nostalgia isn't quite what you remembered it to be.
Rest assured, I will not exactly be losing the case for this one due to excessive over-playing.