lauantai 19. maaliskuuta 2011

REVIEW - WWF Super WrestleMania (1992)

GENRE(S): Sports / Fighting
RELEASED: March 1992
DEVELOPER(S): Sculptured Software
PUBLISHER(S): Flying Edge (GEN), LJN (SNES), Acclaim Entertainment (JAP)

The 90's were a magnificent time for professional wrestling. Just think of all the professional wrestlers who made their major league debuts, or who were already with a major promotion but rose to whole new spheres as single competitors during the early 90's: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, not to mention my all-time favourite professional wrestler, The Undertaker. The 90's just kept on getting better as the WWF adapted a whole new approach to their schtick later on in the decade and introduced more high-profile legends such as Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, but the early 90's were perhaps the finest years of wrestling from a sports fan's view. Wrestling at its most physical needed a whole new platform to adapt into a virtual environment authentically, and so both 16-bit consoles of the day got their first installment in the WrestleMania series. Rare passed development duties to Sculptured Software, who managed to do what Rare and Twilight Games couldn't before them: an ALMOST decent wrestling game, which ultimately stumbles on its lack of point, and painful controls.

Tapped out to the "Hand Mutilator"

The graphics are really nice considering the times, and well detailed; the game's extremely colourful to the point it might actually hurt someone's eyes, though. The bigger problem's the framerate, which sucks balls. The large, detailed sprites are most likely the reason why it's so twitchy. There's hardly music in this game except for the game's main theme and the wrestlers' theme songs, which are once again almost unrecognizable counting out a few exceptions such as the Hulkster's irritating "Real American" stomp. Most of the sound consists of digitized three-counts and audience noise.

Have I seen this before? No Ric Flair or a steel
chair, though.
The line-up's quite awkward. The game was released more or less to promote WrestleMania VIII, but it becomes evident very quickly that the game really has nothing to do with the event at all. I guess they just figured that using the WrestleMania brand would have a positive effect on sales. Out of the ten superstars in the game, eight actually competed in WrestleMania VIII, while the Legion of Doom are in as fillers. I'm not complaining, though - I love the Legion, but where the hell are Bret or Owen Hart, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, or Ric Flair who was WWF Champion at the time of the game's release? I could complain about the absence of Shawn Michaels, but actually, he's in the Genesis version - which on the other side of "blah" has only eight wrestlers in all and a totally whacked line-up; not even The Undertaker made it to the Genesis roster. He's in this SNES version, and it shouldn't be much of a brainteaser to figure out who I'm using to bash some heads in. Don't even dream of a Tombstone Piledriver, though. Signature moves are still totally ignored. It's another round of mashkill, all the way. Just in 16 bits. And it's worse than ever. And it all makes no sense.

Let's take a dip into the control pool first. You can use all buttons on the controller, which is quite cool in theory - they all do the same things, though. Grapple moves are possible to execute only via a tug o' war, which means you have to outmash the CPU in a struggle before you're able to perform a bodyslam. You can just imagine how tough that is, and occasionally it seems like the moment the CPU's stamina meter hits a certain low, he suddenly becomes invincible. You constantly find yourself in a tug, and just one match can render your right hand useless. It's all the same whether you're wrestling Taker or a mid-carder. There are no signature moves or styles, or differences in endurance at all in this game, all the wrestlers come from the same place. Choosing the wrestler is all about your personal preference.

Legion of Doom vs. Natural Disasters. EPIC!
The common movesets are a bit more real, though. First, they look good. You can easily throw your opponent out of the ring, climb back into the ring yourself and perform dives, all of which you couldn't in the 8-bit's WrestleMania Challenge. There's a true wrestling feel to this game, which has previously not been captured by any game on the subject, so WWF Super WrestleMania is not a game to be completely stomped into the ground. The SNES version was the first wrestling game ever to feature The Undertaker, who has appeared in every GOOD game since, so it deserves some cult worship for that as well. But after this little chapter of praise, let's see why the game makes no sense.

The choice of match type is almost identical to that of WWF WrestleMania Challenge, which the game is clearly based on. There's a singles match, a tag match and then the Survivor Series elimination match, which now features four wrestlers on each side, just as real Survivor matches did back then. I think I'll take the tag match first. Oh yeah, this is more like it. Mean Gene Okerlund announces the wrestlers, which immediately raises the reality bar here - although it's weird he's replaced by another dude in the post-match sequence. The overall gameplay of the tag match is quite good, if not taking into account the million tug o' wars and a bloody red thumb begging for mercy. Tagging in your partner is easy and it's cool how they actually recover stamina while standing on the sidelines. After the match (which I won) I'm given two choices: "Rematch" and "Start over". I don't want no stinking rematch, I won fair and square - I'll... start over? I don't want to do that either, let me take a gander at the new Survivor match. I won that too, despite the fact that the opponent kept tagging in a fresh partner all the time and I could not do shit about it. Once again, it's "Rematch" or "Start over".

The moves look real even on this capacity, and the
game deserves huge props for that.
Since I've played the previous games, I figured out that the only way I'm going to "beat" this game and become WWF Champion, is to go one-on-one with every other wrestler on the roster. Well, I chose Taker as my angel of death and the CPU picked my first opponent - Hulk Hogan. Kind of flashy for a first opponent, don't you think? Well, Taker won his first WWF Championship from Hogan after being with the WWF for only about a year, so it's kind of symbolic, I guess. History repeated itself, here, so I was eagerly waiting who they're gonna throw at me next. Seriously, who's "Rematch"? Or this "Start over" guy? Yep - there's no tournament. This game's all about exhibition matches. You can't "beat" the game. That means there's even less rewards for the fact that you willingly pick apart your hands by playing the game, piece by piece.

Here I am, as an (almost) 8-year old kid, back in 1992 and thinking to myself how hard it is to make a wholly satisfying wrestling game. Was it written in some clause by LJN that whoever developed games for them couldn't make a functional game to the best of their abilities? The Sculptured Software quality might have varied throughout the 90's, but I can state on a seamless certainty that this is not what they could've pulled off at their best of the subject at hand. Yet, WWF Super WrestleMania isn't total shit, either, since it brings in its own share of minor qualities exploited to the fullest by later games.

SOUND : 6.0


GameRankings: 70.00%

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