BLAZING TORNADO / Human / Arcade
 
 
 
In as far as my cursory research can dig up, this was Human's only arcade entry for their long-running Fire Pro Wrestling series (huge in Japan, but never caught on outside a cult following of importers in the US). It's in keeping with the generally more "brawly" style of arcade wrestling games, keeping the move set fairly simple and making matches short. But it does at least put more of a focus on grappling than the usual arcade wrestler, plus allowing you to go outside the ring and grab bottles and chairs for extracurricular activities.
 
 


The Fire Pro games are actually known for not being so welcoming to newcomers, so this one is a bit of an abberation in that it's simple to jump into and understand, with a quick tutorial at the outset of each game taking you through all the button combinations. You're limited to a light attack, heavier attack (often a dropkick that will leave you on your ass for a second if it doesn't connect), and a button that makes you run to bounce off the ropes. You auto-grapple when close enough, which turns into a button-mashing contest that the computer generally wins unless you go for the lightest throw all the time. You can actually do a variety of different slams and holds by alternating the two attack buttons when grappling, but due to the quick pace of the matches the safest path to victory is usually to knock the opponent down repeatedly with quick strikes and throws until they are on the mat long enough to deliver a big elbow/boot or submission hold, then repeat that pattern until they're weak enough to pin. Like most arcade wrestling games, there's a fairly short timer on each match (two minutes here) and if time runs out you lose the decision by default, so there's little room to get fancy with your moves or showboat.
 
 


Tornado's gameplay is basically solid and satisfying, OK for a single player but much better for head-to-head competition. Where the game really shines is in graphical detail. While you're limited to only eight prefab characters, they are larger and more detailed than any of the Fire Pro console games that came out through the 32-bit generation. The animation is excellent, and each match starts with an impressive sequence of the ring announcer giving each wrestler's weight and hometown while they do a fairly elaborate series of poses. Great to look at and decent to play, this was definitely one of the better arcade wrestling games.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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