WRESTLE WAR / Sega / Genesis
 
 
Wrestle War was originally released in arcades in 1989, and then ported a couple of years later to the Genesis and released in every territory except for the United States. Possibly over legal worries, as the game has no license or affiliation with any promotions but rather blatantly copies real-world wrestlers for its roster such as the Hulkster, the Road Warriors and even luchador legend Mil Mascaras of Mexico (amusingly renamed to Nim Rod Falcon for some reason in the English localization.) Confusingly, there was also a WCW event called WrestleWar in the late 80s/early 90s, but it has no connection to this game whatsoever.

Anyway, the game takes the Punch-Out approach by confining you to playing as one generic black-haired character as he takes on a series of challengers in the quest for various belts. After taking out the wussy Mohawk Kid in the opening match (the game's Glass Joe), you get to choose from four opponents, one of whom is a champion (the Hulkster clone complete with the leg drop as his finishing move.) I'm really not sure what the benefit is of taking out the mooks before taking on the Hulkster, as if there's some sort of strength improvement or whatever it's completely opaque. Apparently post-Hulkster there's a couple more guys to take on for another belt, but I didn't get that far thanks to the game's weird dice-roll gameplay.
 


The game gives you three basic controls - punch, kick, grapple. Grappling is where the game really falls apart; the computer will try to initiate it almost constantly when it is near you, and once sucked into a grapple it seems entirely random whether you will win it or not. If you don't pound the button, you'll always lose, but pounding the button at different frequencies doesn't seem to change anything. You just have to pound the button at a moderate pace and hope for the best apparently. Grappling wins seem to bias to the computer when it is losing; the less health it has relative to you, the more it seems to win grapples, in what is probably a crappy rubber-banding sort of difficulty-generating technique.
 


Aside from the grappling, there are other issues. Matches are really quite short, and if time runs out on you you always lose by default regardless of who has more health (an arcade quarter-sucking tactic that really should have been changed for the home port.) Sometimes there's a very jarring vertical perspective reversal, and I'm still not even sure what precipitates it (or why it's even necessary.) And the computer is a real asshole when you're on the ground, constantly trying to pin you and eat up more time even when it clearly has no hope of getting the pin.

The game's big colorful manga-style sprites probably would have made it a sales success all alone had the port been ready at or near the Genesis launch. Coming out almost 2 years later, however, and not being released in the U.S., the game was doomed to obscurity with its one fixed mode of play and iffy gameplay that relies too much on cheese to generate challenge. I guess it's a good choice if you want to kill your controller's A button in record time, though.
 
 
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