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WWF WrestleMania: the Arcade Game

Genre: Sports Developer: Sculptured Software Publisher: Acclaim Players: 1-2 Released: 1995

When one thinks of the Genesis and wrestling video games, the first thought that pops up is the Acclaim WWF trilogy.  Super Wrestlemania, Royal Rumble, and Raw; all of which have their share of flaws, but remain fun regardless.  In the mid-’90s, Midway decided to release a WWF-based arcade game, using the same sort of digitized character model graphics engine which they managed to find massive success with using in the Mortal Kombat games.  The end result is WWF Wrestlemania, which wound up being a hit and spawning numerous console ports.  Even though the days of the Genesis were coming to an end, Sega’s 16-bit system got its own version (as did the 32X, which isn’t all that different from this oen), and amazingly enough, it wound up being the best cartridge-based port of the game.

WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game features a handful of the wrestling organization’s top wrestlers at the time: Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Lex Luger, Bam Bam Bigelow, Yokozuna, and Doink the Clown; all of whom are nicely rendered and animated here on the Genesis.  Unlike the Acclaim trilogy mentioned before, however, , Wrestlemania opts for a super-over-the-top/Mortal Kombat style of fighting action instead of focusing on typical wrestling grapples and such. What’s even more surprising here is that somehow, it manages to work out very well.  Between the Undertaker firing spirits and demons like fireballs to Bam Bam Bigelow’s flaming head butts, the game is a welcome change of pace instead of following the same archetype of wrestling games in the past.  The action that Wrestlemania offers is fast and frantic, and the totally over-the-top nature of it just makes it that much more enjoyable.

Voice clips from announcers Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler are included as well, and while they are relatively sparse compared to the arcade counterpart, their funny quips and dialogue are a nice touch.  The game’s sound and music clips as a whole are pretty nicely done, as a matter of fact, and combined with the graphics engine, round out a very nice presentation package.  The character models themselves aren’t as large or detailed as the arcade game, which is to be expected of course, but for what it’s worth, the end result here is pretty admirable.

One thing I often noticed growing up and being a Genesis owner is that if a game was released on both the Genesis and Super NES, nine times out of ten the Super NES version was the better one in terms of presentation and overall quality.  With Wrestlemania, not so much.  The Super NES version notoriously left Bam Bam Bigelow and Yokozuna off the character roster, and also only allowed up to three characters on the screen at once.  With this Genesis port, not only do we get all the characters, but it also allows four of them on screen at once.  This may all sound trivial now (and it kind of is), but back then for me, this was a huge deal.  Not since the first Mortal Kombat game could I say that my Genesis got the better port, so this being the way it was then with Wrestlemania warmed my little pre-teen Genesis-loving gamer heart.

As much as I love Wrestlemania though, the game isn’t without its flaws.  Even though the Genesis version allows four wrestlers on the screen at once, there is a noticeable degree of slowdown that occurs.  It’s not much of a surprise that this is the case, considering these were the waning days of the Genesis’ lifecycle, and developers were really pushing what the aging console could do at this point.  Also, considering that this was a game originally created by Midway, the same crew behind the secrets and Easter egg-laden Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam franchises, there aren’t really any extras to be found here.  There were long rumors that Adam Bomb was a hidden character within the game, but I’ve never been able to find him, nor have I ever heard of anyone finding him in either the arcade version or any of the home console ports.  It’s really just a personal minor complaint from me however, so it doesn’t take away any of the game’s overall fun factor.

All in all, WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game was a blast to play back in the mid-’90s, and it’s still a blast to play even today.  If you’re a 16-bit wrestling game purist and have trouble getting over anything that isn’t quite like the Acclaim trilogy of WWF games, you may have some trouble getting the most enjoyment out of Wrestlemania.  That being said though, it’s kind of hard to say no to what basically amounts to being a nigh-Mortal Kombat game starring the best pro wrestlers the WWF had to offer of the ’90s era.  It’s easy to track down and won’t cost you an arm and a leg on eBay, so do yourself a favor and check it out.

SCORE: 8 out of 10

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7 Comments

  1. Icy Master CEE says:

    The best wrestling game ever. Rate it 10/10!! It’s probably not the wrestling simulator but it’s an amazing fighting. Everything in this game is excelent: graphics, music, sounds, effects, gameplay, balance – tottaly everything. Today there are so many wrestling 3D games, but none of ’em can compair to this one. It still remains the best ever WWF/WWE game. I used to play it since my teenhood, and now, after 18 years… I still play it!
    As I am the WWE fan I played tons of wrestling games, but anyway this masterpiece is so superior! The game allows you to invent so many things that you can imagine right in the fighting process: your opponent jumps out of the ropes on you – try to grab him in the air and smash him on the floor! or use a drop kick in his face while he’s thinking he will have success in jumping on you from the ropes and so on and on and on…
    Even after you learned all special attacks/combos of all charachters you still can think out something new. I’d rate it “12/10”

  2. Crackdown says:

    I hate this horrible game, possibly the worst game I own. It couldn’t play less like a wrestling game if it tried and is incredibly poor compared to the other 1 on 1 fighters on the Megadrive too.

  3. agostinhobaroners says:

    This game is pure fun and very well implemented.
    Great controls, visuals and sound.
    One of the best fighting games for Genesis.

  4. 108 Stars says:

    This was a huge disappointment for me. Finally a wrestling game came with digitized characters, a perfect fit for the genre; and just as they bring the visuals to a new level, they also turn it into a simple beat´em up instead of a wrestling game.
    It would have been awesome had they tried to stick closer to wrestling with this.

  5. Sebastian Sponsel says:

    Personally I feel that the game is slightly unbalanced in favor of Razor Ramone and (for cheap fighters without proper strategy) Yokozuna. Other than that, a pretty good fighting game. 7/10

  6. Steven Campbell says:

    This game is a solid 6 in my opinion. This game has been getting it’s fair share of hype around here recently, so I picked it up, and it isn’t nearly as good as everyone says. Nice sprite’s, and graphics, but falls short of being a good wrestling game, and far shorter as a fighting game. Not a bad effort though, quite playable, and well programmed. Just not really that good of a game in my opinion.

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