sunnuntai 20. maaliskuuta 2011

REVIEW - WWF Road to WrestleMania (2001)

GENRE(S): Sports / Fighting
RELEASED: November 2001

After assuming control of the WWF video game branch in 1999, THQ soon became quite busy in making exclusive titles for several platforms. By late 2001, they had already made a Nintendo 64 exclusive, the SmackDown! series on the PlayStation was underway, and there was also a yet untitled Xbox and PC game they were working on. The Nintendo 64 was nearing the end of its lifespan, but Nintendo had just released two new consoles for THQ to note: the Nintendo GameCube, and the 32-bit handheld Game Boy Advance. It took several months from THQ to publish their first GameCube exclusive, WWF WrestleMania X8, but they were able to quickly make a handheld exclusive to close the gap, as if to tell Nintendo fans they weren't forgotten. Well, WWF Road to WrestleMania sure feels like THQ was laughing at 'em.

Road to hell

The graphics are quite good, pretty standard Advance fare, though. The way entrances were translated into this very small form is quite innovative, but admittedly the frame-by-frame Titantron collages, topped off with some really awkward and unrecognizable MIDI versions of the theme songs look and feel quite damn stupid. Just by looking at the game, even before trying it, one can't help but feel that releasing a wrestling game on the Game Boy Advance, which has four action buttons at the most, is pure capitalism and nothing else. It simply cannot be much of a game. Sometimes, I just hate to be right. Oh, and about the sound. The theme songs indeed sound like crap, but there's some moderately well-sampled digitized speech, and quite tolerable background music.

Taker's getting totally mauled by D-Von Dudley
and Hardcore Holly. Which galaxy are we in,
There are no editors of any kind besides the pay-per-view creator, which is fine - I'm glad they didn't even try 'cause I'm willing to bet it wouldn't have played out too good. There are 25 superstars in the game. All of them are men, and they come from all over the WWF, it's a quite even deal between main eventers and mid-carders - as if the structure of the roster would even matter since Billy Gunn or Gangrel can kick Stone Cold or Triple H's ass in no time. There's absolutely no trace of the qualities that THQ became known from during the decade. The game instead feels like it was made in the era THQ amounted to nothing. And, it feels like they're reminding us of the wrestling games Acclaim made in the early 90's. Only, Road to WrestleMania ain't even that responsive.

The controls are horrible. I don't remember when I've last played a game released during this century that would be as incoherent and heavy on your hands as Road to WrestleMania. The basic controls are simple, of course they are since there are only four buttons and the digital pad for you to use, but even the slightly advanced moves besides punching, kicking and grabbing the opponent are encrypted within some awkward combos that will have you seriously crunching and twisting your Advance unit. The speed and flow of general movement reminds me of the 8- and 16-bit games which used the same angle.

Triple H gets ready to "suck it".
There are a few more match types in the game that I originally expected: the standard matches include single and tag team matches, handicap matches and triple threat bouts. Then there's the steel cage match, Gauntlet, and Iron Man. The King of the Ring tournament and the Royal Rumble that have been present in these games for ages are still in, of course, as the least responsive versions of themselves, ever. The "Season" mode's just a collective of different match types and some extremely generic cutscenes to keep the extremely slim and primitive storyline in motion. There's nothing you haven't seen before in any wrestling game, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. To put it simply and frankly, the game doesn't really offer up anything except an exclusive 21st century look at how bad wrestling games used to be.

Being a handheld game is no excuse. Generic controls are one thing - absolutely abysmal controls, robotic movement and luck-based bodyslams are some wholly different deals. I seriously thought Road to WrestleMania would be a decent game - I didn't believe THQ could make any wrestling game for any platform that was totally incoherent, unplayable crap, but I guess I should have known right from the start that it wouldn't work.

SOUND : 7.5


GameRankings: 62.08%

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