WWF Wrestlemania / Acclaim / NES

This was the very first WWF licensed game on a console, and it shows. It was kind of a ra unusual misstep for Rare in this era, who usually were known for quality and fairly elaborate games but seemed to just take the typical easy halfassed path of the licensed game trading on name recognition here. Of course, Acclaim being the publisher likely had something to do with that.

                                      A true dark match

The roster isn't the problem -- it's a little short, but a solid old-school lineup nonetheless with Macho Man, Million Dollar Man, Honky Tonk Man, Hulkster Man, Andre the Giant and Bam Bam Bigelow. Their managers/valets are also listed, but don't actually appear in-game anywhere.

It's just the primitive play control, for the most part. And there's not much excuse, because even the relatively simplistic Pro Wrestling was orders of magnitude better and more complex than this game. Each character has an attack button and a run button, and you can perform a special attack while running like Bam Bam Bigelow's cartwheel, but that's about it. No climbing the turnbuckle, no outside the ring, no grappling, no signature moves, no foreign objects. Movement is also weird, with characters shuffling between vertical planes and doing slow, elaborate turns like they're in a Jordan Mechner game for whatever reason.

Twitchy AI doesn't help anything, though. Characters like Hogan and Andre run straight at you, trap you in a corner and rape the shit out of you with cheap chain hits while the "heels" like DiBiase and Honky kinda run away most of the time and twitch around between vertical planes just trying to avoid your hits.

The game is also heavily weighted to 2-player, with basically the equivalent of only one-off exhibition matches for the solo player. It doesn't even have the rudimentary championship mode of Pro Wrestling. Amusingly, if time runs out while a character is laid out, they just stay there looking dead until you reset the game.

This was the first WWF game that wasn't some menu-based weirdness, but there still isn't much excuse for the crap quality. It was released in 1989 and had the templates of Pro Wrestling and a bunch of decent arcade titles like Mat Mania and The Main Event to work from for gameplay inspiration, they just didn't care to. Which was definitely SOP for Acclaim in this era, so I choose to blame it on them.

             OMG racial epithet. Someone notify Polygon.

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