SATURDAY NIGHT SLAM MASTERS / Capcom / Arcade
Saturday Night Slam Masters is a good game. It has to settle for "good", though, and it is really so close to greatness. All it would have taken would have been a few simple little tweaks.
The game is sort of a precursor to the Final Fight series, as it has a pre-Mayorial Mike Haggar wrestling along with nine other totally new characters. The gameplay is clearly a mod of the Final Fight engine, with a little more focus on grappling, the ability to throw against ropes and jump off the turnbuckle, and three or four Street Fighter-style button combinations that perform special moves for each character.
The game has a very solid engine and is for the most part fun to play, but little things really would have helped here. For one thing, the only real mode of play is basically a free-for-all for four players. You're divided up into teams of two, but there's no tagging in or anything, everyone is just all in the ring at once, and the first team to lose both players to a pin loses the match. There's really no strategy to the game, it's just mindless brawling. You simply pound the foe's health bar down, and when it is in the red, they can be pinned without hope of breaking out. Thus, there's no impetus to really do anything except regular punch moves, or jump kicks, or special moves over and over, basically just spamming whatever seems to work the most often. Grappling is really kind of a minimal part of the game, where it should be the main focus of a wrestling game.
There's also limited interactivity between more than two players at a time, if two players are already engaged with each other, about the most you can do to interfere is to limply punch or kick them apart. Likewise, there's not much in the way of two-on-one possibilities for you and your partner. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect is that if you are playing in single player mode, you are forced to have an AI partner who sucks royally, and then of course they whine about you after the match if you lose like it was your fault they got their dumb ass pinned in the first 30 seconds.
Despite these gripes, it's still a fun little wrestler/brawler and worth a look.
* Gameplay Video