The Monday night wars between two of the biggest wrestling companies during the ’90s was exciting to watch, as both had to pull out all the stops to reign as the superior entity. Alongside the World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation—now dubbed World Wrestling Entertainment— great, long lasting strides in the sports entertainment business, were the games that helped heighten their appeal.
WCW vs. The World, WWF Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain, WWF: In Your House and WWF No Mercy were all great pro wrestling games that made fans want to go back to the Attitude Era. Nearly every wrestling game that came out at this time were close to perfect, but the real reason why it has such a lasting impression was because the actual business competition between the two juggernaut companies was a slobber-knocker to behold.
Fast forward to now and wrestling fans are now met with very little variety in choosing which wrestling game they want to play, mostly because any game that isn’t associated with WWE turns out to be a giant pile of jobber. Not only do they come complete with low-brow mechanics and poorly executed presentation, but wrestling games have also lost their tendency to be enjoyable.
The recent run of WWE games are solid, but underwhelming, as they takes some of the best mechanics from their previous Smackdown! vs. Raw ventures, combining them with flashy graphics and continually making the season mode more exciting. The controls, however, have gradually become complex and annoying. Executing reversals can be a pain in the ass if you aren’t quick enough, and this is true when stepping into the online realm of the squared circle—get ready to get your championship title taken away from you by a created wrestler who wears a pink bikini, sunglasses and a pink afro.
The developers at 2K and Yukes promises fans a fluid and life-like feel of solid in-ring action with their upcoming WWE 2K14 title, and although this is a game to look forward to, there is a feeling of a drought. Is there anything else out there that wrestling fans can enjoy on their Xbox 360 or PS3? Maybe some future titles for next-gen consoles?
For the most part, waiting is the only game they can play, and this is all virtually due to how badly Midway and Immersion Software & Graphics dropped the ball with TNA Impact! and AAA Lucha Libre: Hereoe Del Ring. Both of these games pretty much had the off-the-wall, high-flying level of moves that fans were craving for in a wrestling game. However, the repetitive move animations and very little emphasis on a real, engaging story line became the very attributes responsible their demise.
Hopefully the indie title “5 Star Wrestling” doesn’t have too much trouble as the other two. The developers at Serious Parody are looking to take the game genre to the next level by taking all the different type of aspects that we’ve seen previously in wrestling games and improve on them. Their system, for example, will not allow wrestlers to continuously perform the same move over and over, as this would be realistically tiring, and the game will reflect that based on the wrestler’s stamina. The game will also feature “quick,” “power” and “tired” finishing moves based on the same stamina.
However, there is no set release date for this game and the only information we have are a few paper ideas and the fact that it’s currently being developed. The idea of an indie developer taking on the task of crafting a technical wrestling game that is not associated with WWE is a big one, but there still leaves that itch for something that falls along the arcade side. WWE’s lack of building off of the welcoming praise of WWE All-Stars reinforces the desire for some senseless head-knocking action seems to grow by the second. The company having their hands tied promoting the forthcoming title and various PPV’s, so if they’re not going to do it, then maybe some other developer should.
It may be a bit of an overreaching dream, but Atlus seems to be the perfect candidate for the job once they get out of the slump of finding a new parent company. Their success with the Shin Megami Tensei series is not to be ignored, and while their main field of work lies in constructing heavily detailed and engaging role-playing titles, their anime design and exquisite writing skills alone would be great for a wrestling game. Atlus shouldn’t have to create an entirely new IP on their own, as a collaboration with Toei Animation and Namco-Bandai could call for a possible next-gen Ultimate Muscle: Kinnikuman Legacy adventure. With a sleek presentation like Bandai’s previous work with Dragon Ball Z and with both the animators and writers at Toei and Atlus taking their task in spearheading character design and story mode, nothing can possibly go wrong with the potentially funny, witty and arcade-like wrestling game.
Whether you’re watching it on TV or playing it on your favorite console, the only thing dominating sports entertainment and wrestling games at the moment is WWE. It’s disappointing that we cannot go back to our yesteryear and delve in the assortment of WCW and WWF games that were readily available. Today, it’s just the same old crap. Despite the impeccable quality of their games, there needs to be more titles out there willing to step up and force the WWE to share the spotlight, because the developers at Yukes and 2K aren’t even going to try anymore if there aren’t any willing to do so. Fans will continuously be fed the same song and dance for years to come, and do take warning that this would be more distasteful than a five-month title run for John Cena.