Graveyard: Saturday Night Slam Masters

Out back of the Hardcore Gamer office you’ll find our Graveyard, where countless long-dead classics lie. We come here to pay our respects, to reminisce, and to wonder aloud what a passing mad doctor might be able do with all these corpses and some high-definition lightning.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was at the peak of everyone’s list of games they delved into during the early ’90s, and at that time, Capcom knew that they had struck gold so much that they later released different iterations of the game throughout several years. No other gaming publisher could knock off the fighter even if they tried, and despite Midway having nearly took the throne with Mortal Kombat, no other fighting game really stood out from the rest.

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Except maybe one, which also happened to be Capcom’s answer to several wrestling games that were out at that time. Though WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game had some pretty positive success with those interested in the genre, Capcom’s Saturday Night Slam Masters had the whole enchilada, with cold drink and a dessert too.

Released on the SNES in 1994, SNSM featured 10 distinct characters, one of whom had appeared previously in the Final Fight series. With 2 masked wrestlers, a Russian, Guile’s supposed relative, a kabuki fighter, a Vader look-a-like, a fat guy, a titan and a Dominican ‘rasta,’ the entire roster heightened the playing field. It also helped that the character designs had a striking resemblance to those seen in the classic anime Fist of the North Star. Tetsuo Hara, who had previously worked on the design in the anime, had his hands on the game’s primary look and feel. Aside from a few offensive take downs under their arsenal, all the characters in this game were beautifully well created and aesthetically distinct.

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The simplicity of the gameplay is the highlight of the game. Even though its prequel featured a better button layout that geared towards the casual fighting game audience, SNSM had two buttons—one for grabbing and another for basic attack.  Whether it’s a powerbomb pin or a ‘Wrecking Neckbreaker,’ special moves are performed using certain directional combinations and the attack button while grabbing your opponent.

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Unlike the Sega Genesis version, Capcom also integrated a tag-team battle royal mode as well. Whether it’s you and a computer or a friend, taking on the best tag team that Capcom Pro Wrestling Alliance had to offer was an exciting feeling and eclectic way to play a fighting game. It one of the few fighting games that showed the true strength in the SNES system in having four characters on screen without any lagging issues.

Capcom’s first dip into the wrestling scene proved successful, and thus Ring of Destruction – Slam Masters II would spawn in the Arcades about a year after the initial release of the original. It’s sad to note that Capcom strayed from preserving pin-only win mechanics and decided to turn a wrestling game into a fighting game—making Saturday Night Slam Masters a much more valuable gem in anyone’s collection.

C’mon! You get to play as Haggar and pound your opponents with his swinging arms of doom. How is this game not awesome?