WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING / FCI / NES
If you're like me, you really had no awareness of the WCW until around the NWO era in the mid-late 90s. It turns out they had a fairly decent roster going in the late 80s - early 90s, however, as represented by this game's lineup. You got your Nature Boy, the Legion of Doom, Ricky Steamboat, Sting and the Steiner brothers among others. There's also a multi-stage title mode for the single player comparable to that of Pro Wrestling, and fighting outside the ring is among the most ambitious of the 8-bit area with multiple screens to move between and the crowd randomly throwing wrenches in. There's finishers, and in addition to the standard pinfalls you can make the foe GIVE'M UP with submission manuevers as well.
Sadly, as with most 8-bit wrestling titles, things go awry in the basic core gameplay. Each character can choose from a set of four slams, but they're a bit arbitrary as the game was ported from a Japanese title with Japanese wrestlers and they just sort of cobbled their movesets over to this one. This also means that each character's finishing move isn't necessarily going to correspond with reality.
I do give the game some points for implementing a striking system that's actually useful and necessary to soften a guy up for slams. Sadly the collision detection is all over the place, with characters using the same attack animations for the most part yet seemingly having different and arbitrary ranges. And the generic kick has way more range (and the computer constantly spams it), rendering the generic punch rather useless. This leads into another problem -- while characters each have halfway decent portraits and theme music on the character select screen, once in-ring they seem to share a rather samey stock sprite for the most part, modified just a bit to give them unique identifying features.
The game definitely has some panache. It has decent music, amusing voice clips, almost-there gameplay, the screen rattles for big slams and submissions, and it's way more ambitious than LJN or Acclaim's pathetic efforts of the era. It even looks pretty decent for 1989, I especially enjoyed the goofy crowd including blue cats making the unimpressed Mckayla Maroney face. But the core gameplay is just too iffy, it's tolerable maybe against another human player or in the early reaches when the computer is stupid, but quickly breaks down beyond that.
* Gameplay Video