lauantai 19. maaliskuuta 2011

REVIEW - WWF Royal Rumble (1993)

GENRE(S): Sports / Fighting
RELEASED: June 1993 (SNES)
DEVELOPER(S): Acclaim Entertainment

On January 24th, 1988, Hacksaw Jim Duggan made history by becoming the first WWF Royal Rumble winner. Royal Rumble became an annual event, in which first 20, then 30 superstars clashed it out in a battle royal with the simple goal of being the last man standing. In 1992, the WWF Championship was on the line in Royal Rumble for the first and only time, and Ric Flair won that match. The next year, and from that year forward, the winner of the Royal Rumble has been granted a championship opportunity on the grandest stage of them all, WrestleMania. Ever since that, Royal Rumble has become one of the biggest events of the year for wrestling fans. In the aftermath of the first "true" Royal Rumble, Acclaim and LJN ditched their WrestleMania brand for the time being and instead took on the first grand slam of the year, which they thought would bring some fresh air into the otherwise stale wrestling genre with its unique main event. Well, did it?

We miss you, Yokozuna

Comparing the game to WWF Super WrestleMania is very easy, since the general look of the game really hasn't changed much. There are some aesthetic changes here and there, but you can't really tell the difference from a quick, casual look at both games. The framerate's notably better, though! The sound effects are also pretty much the same, but for once, every WWF theme song in the game is recognizable and not just a half-assed loop or variation.

This time I have virtually nothing to complain about the line-up, either. The couple of mid-carders were quite hot new names back in '93, and then we have the obvious superstars of the era who are now considered legends. Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair (finally!), The Undertaker, Razor Ramon, "The Narcissist" Lex Luger, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, and of course, the winner of the 1993 Royal Rumble, Yokozuna. They're all here. NO Hulk Hogan this time around, except in the Genesis version which in fact had a much shorter straw than the SNES original (the Genesis version was released in 1994). I'll drink to that, and go into the game just a little more buffed than I thought.

I have a feeling Yokozuna's gonna pwn.
The basic controls haven't changed at all, so let's cut the crap: the way to succeed is to kill the controller dead. But, there is a lot of stuff you are allowed to do - if you've got the concentration after a period of super mashkill. Each wrestler has a tug o' war meter now, which is essential in the Rumble. Unique finishers are finally executable once your opponent's stamina meter hits a certain low - "TOMBSTONE! TOMBSTONE!" Steel chairs are in - I mean, how many of these guys would've become legends without the singled-out favourite weapon of professional wrestlers? They're only available for use in Brawl Mode, though, which is this game's equivalent to a No Holds Barred match. The things that separate Brawl from a regular match are the chair, that you have to simply empty the opponent's stamina meter instead of trying to pin him, and that there are no count-outs. Other than that, it's the same thing as everything else. You can go for the WWF Championship in a basic one-on-one tournament only, but the most important thing is that the tournament's in, unlike in WWF Super WrestleMania. Consider the game's lifespan extended by a lot.

Is that a steel chair leaning against the apron
there? Oh, hell yes it is.
The Triple Tag Team match is the exact same thing as the Survivor Series elimination match in the 8-bit's WWF WrestleMania Challenge (3-on-3), kind of a misleading name but since Triple Threat Tag was invented a bit later, it's quite OK. The only real new feature besides the Brawl is the main event the game was named after. I went into it with no expectations except fear, but I kinda dug it! It's absolute murder to the thumbs, more than any match in any wrestling game ever was before this, but I like its mechanics, which have since been improved and somewhat influenced later games with Royal Rumble as a match type. Whoever you pick as your wrestler comes in first. I picked Yokozuna for this match, of course. You have to outlast the 11 other guys in the game to win the match, by beating them down until you damage them enough, and gain enough momentum to whip them out of the ring. Of course the Rumble is all about every man watching out for himself, so everyone's not on you all the time; you won't actually have to eliminate more than one guy from the match - the last one between you and victory. I won, and man, did my palms hurt. As always, there were no substantial rewards for it, but it was kinda fun. More fun than anything in any preceding game, at least. Considering the times, WWF Royal Rumble is a winner.

It's indeed a notable improvement from every game that came before it, especially the 8-bit interlude Steel Cage Challenge. It's funny how much more authentic a game can become with the addition of one easily broken steel chair, and unique finishers for everyone - I missed Sweet Chin Music from Michaels' repertoire, but I guess it would've been impossible to make it look realistic at the time. Mentioning Michaels brings us to how solid the line-up is in comparison to the earlier games. It's far from a masterpiece, but WWF Royal Rumble delivered a fine deal of hope to the genre. Congratulations, LJN. I believe you just got praised for once.

SOUND : 6.6


GameRankings: 68.75% (GEN), 73.00% (SNES)

Another game entitled WWF Royal Rumble was released exclusively on the Sega Dreamcast seven years later.

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