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Saturday Night Slam Masters

Genre: Sports Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Players: 1-2 Released: 1994

It’s Saturday Night! You all crowd around the TV for another showing of the greatest in sports entertainment duking it out in the ring! Capcom presents: Saturday Night Slam Masters!

Ported from the arcades in ’94, Slam Masters is a fun fighter from the people who know fighters. While some may say that it focuses too much on fighting, and the wrestling elements are mere formalities, it’s still a fun game, even if the Genesis version was slightly stiffed compared to its SNES counterpart.

It’s simple as controls can get for beginners. A for attack, B for jump, C for pin. Like any other fighter at the time, you had your assorted special moves and combos but in the beginning, these simple controls are pretty much good enough to beat the game, which some may say is a bad thing. I personally enjoyed being able to figure out who could do what, and how the grapples worked (up or down+ B for grapples move, left or right + B for Irish whip). You have to remember that this was a four-player arcade game to start with, so it’s not going to be real deep.

This goes for the music as well, which is normal Capcom fare with some catchy tunes that have a bit of an actiony (quoted; Fairly Oddparents) touch, nothing really spectacular. The character voices are almost nonexistent for most competitors. What you’ll mostly get on the Genesis version is a watered down version of the voices, with mostly grunts and oofs, and the occasional victory noise. Even with a sub par sound the Genesis was notorious for, it could have been better.

At least graphics fit the arcade gameplay well, even with the obvious downgrades. Large sprites make for easy-to-decipher moves and small details that just make watching a match as fun as playing it. Even in the background, the crowd is nicely done. Better than some of the crowds I’ve seen in other wrestling games of the era. There’s even a hidden Street Fighter character there if you look hard enough. You even get wrestler entrances, something nonexistent until years later. I guess you could say that Slam Masters was ahead of its time in a few ways.

The characters are mostly wrestling stereotypes of the day, along with a couple oddballs and Mike Haggar from Final Fight. You’ve got El Sting Ray, your luchadore; Alexander the Grater, a Vader clone; and The Great Oni, a high flying voodoo fighter. Then you’ve got the goliath of a man in Jumbo Jack, and your Generic muscleman Jamaican (although I can’t help but notice that he seems to be the same skin color as any other competitor, King Rasta Mon, the greatest character in the game, IMO). Finally, there are the less gimmicky guys like Biff Bolshevik and Gunloc, and your tall man in Titanic Tim. Then there’s Scorpion…

…the big boss, Scorpion. A dirt bike rider in karate pants? A mysterious force from the gods in human form? Chuck Norris in disguise? Jim Neidhart in a mask? Who? We don’t know. The best we can do is guess that he’s the last boss for a reason. He’s so DAMN HARD!

He leads you on nice an easy. You’ll most likely get the first hit, just to toy with you. But try one to many clotheslines and you’ll be thrown across the ring before you know what hit you. Try a grapple, and hell, nine times out of ten he’ll break it and hit some big power bomb before you can even back away. Try cold cocking him? He’ll start spinning on his hands and kick the crap out of you! Then before you know it, he’s jumping off the top rope and planting a karate kick in your left eye. Try to roll out of the ring on the bottom? He flies at you with undodgeable speed! Go out the side, baseball kick from anywhere!

In other words, he’s tough. The only way to really get him is to keep attacking like your life depends on it. Forget all those moves you learned, they’ll only humor him. And when it’s all said and done, he lays a simple elbow across your chest for the pinfall, he then proceeds to SPLIT IN TWO and fly around the ring. You then realize it’s futile. But, I’ve been known to over exaggerate. He IS beatable, but he’s still the toughest mutha that Calgary has to offer.

Luckily there are lots of modes to give you practice. Slam Masters has its basic modes of vs. computer and vs. another player, but it is noticeably missing tag team mode, which brings it down a point automatically. There’s no reason that it couldn’t have held both the battle royal match, and the Genesis exclusive Death Match.

Oh yeah, the Genesis gets an exclusive death match mode! Complete with barbed wire ropes and C4 around the ring! While the matches can get boring after awhile after constantly getting blown up and laying around, the pure idea of the match almost makes up for having only two people possible.

It’s a good game, a great wrestling game, and one of the better overall “sports” games on our little black chunk of plastic. It shouldn’t be too hard to find, so pick it up if you can. It seems to be one of the many under talked of gems the system has.

SCORE: 7 out of 10

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