RELEASED: September 1993
AVAILABLE ON: GB, NES
DEVELOPER(S): East Ridge Technology, Gray Matter
King of the Ring is a trademarked tournament held periodically within the WWE, with varying agendas. In 1993, the tournament was converted into a pay-per-view event, which it remained until 2002. The first winner of the pay-per-view tournament was Bret "The Hit Man" Hart, who graced the cover of a video game based on King of the Ring. The game was first released for the Game Boy, then for the NES a couple of months later. Apparently LJN still didn't realize wrestling's time on the classic console was over way back when they released WWF Super WrestleMania for the SNES. While not as much of a bottom-end nightmare its 8-bit predecessor WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage Challenge was, WWF King of the Ring is a boring game with simply nothing fresh to offer to the wrestling game community.
One ring to bore us all
The graphics aren't exactly bad, they're just a joke no one understands. The wrestlers look like comical caricatures of themselves rather than attempts at realism. Once again, the sound of the WWF game franchise has taken a turn for the worse. Everything about this game yells "rushed" and "unnecessary". All audiovisual things concerned, the game really feels like a Game Boy port - which it is! One of the last commercial games to be released on the NES, mind you.
The line-up's perfect, I'll give the game that much. Once again, there's a generic wrestler, "You", who doesn't even have a face this time around, just a question mark over his facial features, and visible long hair. Uh, excuse me: baldy here! Anyway, the actual roster doesn't include any new guys, just the best of every game released thus far: Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Lex Luger, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, and two NES-exclusives to the game, The Undertaker and Bam Bam Bigelow. Kind of a high-profile group for a tournament that usually features only a few main eventers and is usually supposed to put over mid-carders, only Bam Bam really counts as one - but I'm not complaining, it's a great group. How I would love to see some sense in playing the game.
Besides a well-organized tournament like King of the Ring, there's nothing new in this game. The tug o' war is pretty much the only thing you can do besides beating on the controller, and you can capitalize on that with either an Irish whip or bodyslam. No finishing moves, the diving attacks are once again kind of hard to execute, and the opponent is just as merciless as you have gotten used to being with his punches and kicks. Well, at least he's not running away all the time like the opponents in the first two games. Every wrestler's supposed to differ in speed, strength, and stamina, but it doesn't really show in gameplay. Besides, Shawn Michaels has terrible strength and he seems to do more damage to The Undertaker than Taker does to him with every punch.
|It was damn hard to get a decent screenshot as |
usually you have two sprites on top of each
other, punching like crazy!
Well, at least the game doesn't have the biggest problems of Steel Cage Challenge in tow. At least you can get up whenever you're grounded, as long as there's enough gas left on your stamina meter. The lower your stamina, the harder it is for you to get up, which is quite realistic - even some modern wrestling games ignore the realism. I don't remember which annual SmackDown vs. Raw game it was, but I had delivered something like four Pedigrees to the opponent and he still got up with minimal effort, and if I remember correctly, I even lost that match. There, I phrased every praise I have in store for WWF King of the Ring.
Fortunately it was the last wrestling game ever released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I wish I could end this on a high note and say how they came a long way from WWF WrestleMania to this point, but they didn't - they didn't even budge. Making radical improvements on the NES was hard, that's for sure, but they should've quit earlier for pure respect.
GRAPHICS : 6.5
SOUND : 4.9
PLAYABILITY : 4.4
LIFESPAN : 3.5
CONCLUSION : 4.2
The seventh and last WWF/E game to feature Hulk Hogan until WWE WrestleMania XIX (2002), in which he was billed as Hollywood Hogan. His original "Real American" gimmick wasn't revived until WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2006.