tiistai 22. maaliskuuta 2011

REVIEW - WWE Road to WrestleMania X8 (2002)

GENRE(S): Sports / Fighting
RELEASED: October 2002

In the aftermath of their Nintendo GameCube-exclusive debut WWE WrestleMania X8, THQ saw necessary to release another WWE game exclusive to the Game Boy Advance in late 2002 - about a week before the release of their pet project, the fourth game in the SmackDown! series, exclusive to the PlayStation 2. No one knows why they yet again felt the need to prove that wrestling games didn't belong on a simple handheld. WWE Road to WrestleMania X8 sports better graphics and slightly better gameplay than its predecessor, but make no mistake: it isn't worth half the effort, no matter what sort of completist you consider yourself...

...And I quote, "being a handheld game is no excuse"

One of the most unexciting Tombstones I've
ever seen.
The graphics are good. Instead of the cartoon-ish caricatures of the previous Road to WrestleMania title, Natsume used fully digitized, large sprites. The entrances are now simple walks down the aisle, with decent-sounding MIDI theme tunes accompanied by quite damn polished voice samples. Audiovisually, the game does not disappoint - for such an early Game Boy Advance game and a 2D wrestling game, I must say it looks and sounds almost amazing. It's truly a shame the gameplay is almost as stifling and draining as it was before.

Due to the fancy graphics taking up most of the capacity, the game is very stripped of different features such as any sort of Career or Season Mode, and there are only 15 superstars on the roster, ten of which were featured in the previous installment; Booker T, Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Rob Van Dam and Test are the five new guys. Big Daddy Cool (= Kevin Nash for you non-wrestling fanatics) is the only dude in the bunch who I'd play as. There's some sort of a generic attribute system, which is manipulated by your progress itself. Your strength and defense may change over time, depending on your success in a championship run or the King of the Ring tournament.

Almost every grapple move in the game looks
the same.
Success is under a soil and black stone. The wrestlers move like robots (well animated ones, though) and controlling that movement is just as robotic. As before, if you get pinned, that's about it - there's not much you can do about it. One loss doesn't mean it's game over, any gameplay mode of the game kind of progresses like any Career Mode - you're simply given a new match, and in time, you'll get a title shot, assuming any interest remains after three or four matches. The game is so God damn boring I can't imagine twisting my palms or my nerves with it on a bus trip for five whole minutes. I'd much rather take Super Mario Advance, or Mario Kart: Super Circuit, any game that has even the slightest potential to really work on a four-button handheld. That's the main concern here: the game doesn't even _have any potential_ to work like an entertaining wrestling game on the smallest possible scale! So why bother?

If the game was any more responsive in general, as in realistic in tempo, and if the developers were even remotely interested in reflecting on how they could modify the well-received SmackDown! control scheme to fit the Nintendo handheld - in theory, it's possible, but unlikely - it still wouldn't be a great game, but surely a decent dose of portable WrestleMania madness. Not quite as heavy on the hands as the first game, which earns it a notably better overall rating, but it's still not worth two glances. Let's play wrestling games on the platforms to which they belong, shall we?

SOUND : 8.6


GameRankings: 64.00%

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