WWF WRESTLEFEST / Technos / Arcade

WWF Wrestlefest is what a wrestling game should be, which is glorious chaos. At least, in the Battle Royale mode, where six men start off in the ring in a free for all and new ones come out to replace those that get pinned or tossed over the ropes. Up to four players can compete in this at once, or you can play a series of tag team matches leading up to a title belt shot against the Legion of Doom.

The game was designed by Technos, better known for the Double Dragon series and the Renegade/Kunio games, so it's definitely a "brawly" wrestler with limited moves and a lack of realism. Not to say that it is bad, the simplicity actually works to advantage here. Players have only a simple kick and punch button, and when you hit punch up close you initiate a grapple, which you follow up with by pressing the joystick in a certain direction to do certain slams.

The roster is from one of the glory periods of the WWF, in the early 1990s featuring Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, Demolition, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, The Million Dollar Man, Big Boss Man, Sgt. Slaughter and Earthquake as playables. Legion of Doom is semi-playable, if you get up to them with one or two players and then have the third and fourth player buy in while you are fighting them, you can take them over for that match. Also, in Tag Team mode if you pick one member of Demolition you are automatically stuck with the other one. Characters for the most part do have their finishers, but they seem to come out randomly, except for Legion of Doom who can set theirs up by being in the right position in the ring. Demolition doesn't have their double finisher, alas, each character gets a more generic move in its place.

Possibly the best thing about the game, or at least my favorite part, is the crazy digitized faces taunting you during the Battle Royale. Back in the late 80s to early 90s the WWF would often have a video insert during the matches where either a manager or a wrestler would cut some menacing promo usually talking about whoever was in the ring at the moment. Well, they've emulated that to a degree here in the Battle Royale - before each new character comes out you see a box with a close up of their face as they spew some sort of (unheard) taunt, then they turn toward the ring and a few seconds later they are in the mix. The digitized faces in this one are just so over the top and freaky that it becomes funny. I especially like the gibbering Hulkster head that pops up to encourage you to insert another quarter when your energy gets low.

The aesthetics are pretty great all around for 1991. There's a nice ring intro, and an absolute ton of digitized voice clips such as an introduction from the announcer lady who also climbs back into the ring to announce your victory at the end of each match. There's even running commentary, some generic guy with an Engrishy accent yells the names of your moves and the wrestler doing them ("Dibiase! Million Dollar Dream!"). One of the best parts is that the voice kind of fades into the background, and between that and the thick accent it sounds like he's calling Hulk "Hokester" or "Toaster" most of the time. "Toaster! Super Slam!" It gets even better when you get to the end of tag team mode, the Legion of Doom appears to give a lengthy digitized interview to try to intimidate you, with such quote gems as "WE SNACK ON DANGER!"

Flaws are only minor. It does have kind of a simplistic nature but there's enough variety to the moves and characters to keep it interesting, and the computer is a fair challenge. If playing solo, your CPU partner is pretty stupid and will prioritize badly, deciding to take a swing at the opponent instead of breaking up a pin that you're about to lose to, so the game is really better for two or more players. The one thing I really felt was missing here was that only two guys can engage each other at once. Like, in Battle Royale you can't break up other people's grapples, and like Superplexing a guy into a crowd of people doesn't affect them in any way. With more well defined sprite contact the game would have been even more epic, but as it is it's pretty dang good.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video