M.U.S.C.L.E WRESTLING / Bandai / NES
 
 
Kinnikuman, known as M.U.S.C.L.E. in the West, was a toy fad in the mid-late 1980s that I was all in on as a little kid. At the time we didn't know it was based on an anime series, since they didn't bother bringing that part of it over from Japan, but the toys were all the rage on the playground for a couple years in the United States. I still remember they came in packs of 4, little garbage cans of 10 and big boxes of 20. It was basically just a collectible thing, but they were made of stiff rubber so you could make them "wrestle" in action figure style if you were really determined, and I think they even sold some crappy ring with extender arms so you could make them ram into each other like a piss-poor Rock Em Sock Em Robots.
 


Anyway, aside from the toys, the only tie-in electronic product in the West was this shit NES game that no one wanted even at the height of M.U.S.C.L.E. popularity. The in-game characters look only incredibly vaguely like the toys, which were actually pretty well-defined; these are like squishy super-deformed blob versions of them. And while the toy series had something like 200 characters, only eight are available to play as here.
 


Each match is a tag team affair, and there's no overall structure whatsoever, you just pick two moops and continue fighting teams of the other moops to no apparent purpose. It doesn't even have the nicety of Pro Wrestling's basic quest to win and then retain the championship belt. You only have one attack, a stiff punch, which you also use to tag out when near your corner. The attack will turn into an ineffective Irish Whip if you're close enough to an enemy that's facing you, and if you manage to get behind them you can do a damaging back drop. They couldn't figure out how to handle pins, apparently, so each character has a life bar and once one is depleted they die in a twitching spasm and the other team wins.
 


Periodically, a glowing power ball will either float into the ring from some random direction, or be thrown in by this little asshole. Whoever grabs it gets most/all of their health back, and for a short time is able to move faster and execute their special move over and over. The game is totally unbalanced and just completely devolves into who manages to grab the most of these power balls, as you can pretty much spam your special move with impunity while you're powered up.

Crap gameplay, crap graphics, crap sound, crap game.
 
 
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