WWE All-Stars / THQ

TOP 10 WRESTLING GAMES

Time to Crown a Champion!

by Oscar Portillo / Felipe Parada

For as long as we can remember, professional wrestling has been a stable of pop culture. There inst one facet of our lives that hasn't been influenced by professional wrestling. Everyone knows the infamous "WHOOOOO!!!!" that was made popular by Rick Flair. So it would only make sense that over the course of a couple of decades the wrestling genre in video games is still going strong. 

Were taking some time out of our busy schedules to pay homage to the games that have paved the way for modern wrestling games like Fire Pro Wrestling World and the hugely popular WWE 2K Series. Without these games the genre wouldnt be where its at today, so join us as we take a look at the top 10 wrestling games of all time. 

10. WWF Superstars - Gameboy, 1991

I know, I know, WWF Superstars? Released on the Gameboy by LJN (R.I.P)in 1991. WWF Superstars was developed by Rare and published by LJN. It was released in Europe and North America in 1991, which was followed by its Japanese release on February 14, 1992. This game makes it on the list because at the time wrestling was mainly fixed on arcades and consoles. Before every match, wrestlers cut promos on their opponent. Following the match, Vince McMahon comments on the action. The wrestlers each have two comments. One is a generic taunt, while the second is specific to the opponent.The game features five wrestlers: Hulk Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, and Mr. Perfect. All wrestlers have the same moves, with the exception of individualized strike attacks.

 

The moveset consists of attack moves (punch and kick), a bodyslam, grappling moves that can only be performed when you pick your opponent up from the mat (piledriver, suplex, headlock with punches), ground attack moves (elbow or knee drop), Irish whip moves (clothesline and dropkick), and flying turnbuckle moves (elbow or knee drop). Players can also wrestle outside the ring by throwing their opponent over the ropes or by performing a dropkick through the ropes. Throwing the opponent out of the ring can be done once per match and causes considerable damage. For a gameboy game I was also impressed with the theme music that, that little cartridge was producing.

9. NES Pro Wrestling - NES, 1981

This was the very first wrestling game we ever played and a lot of people like to think that this was the first wrestling game ever created. But it's not. As a matter of fact, when I look back on this game I do remember having a hard time pulling of some basic moves.

 

What made this game so memorable was the cast of over-the-top characters. Starman was our personal favorite and Starman alone was our first introduction into the world of lucha libre. In all honesty I feel that this roster may be the most memorable in gaming history. Whether its King-Slender, Fighter Hayabusa or Starman you are certainly guaranteed to fall in love with this 8-bit wrestling game.

8. WWF Warzone - Nintendo 64, PlayStation, Game Boy, 1998

WWF War Zone made by Acclaim (R.I.P) features a gameplay system in which players must grapple with their opponent and perform a series of presses on the directional pad then a button press to perform wrestling maneuvers.  WWF War Zone also features the audio commentary, provided by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross.

 

A variety of modes are available. The single player game is highlighted by the "WWF Challenge" mode in which the player selects a character and challenges for WWF titles by beating other wrestlers. Sometimes previously defeated wrestlers will challenge the player to a "Grudge match." These matches will usually be weapons or cage matches. After winning the championship, the player can then defend it against a series of challengers. Various multiplayer options are available such as a free-for-all, two-on-two cage matches, and tornado tag team matches. The game also has a number of unlockable features such as hidden characters. War Zone also includes a training mode in which the player can freely practice the moves of their chosen wrestler. Exhibition matches against the computer can also be played, but the computer chooses the opponent at random.

7. Def Jam Vandetta PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, 2003

Published by Syn SophiaEA Canada this game is a weird one. One part brawler and one part wrestling game, Def Jam Vandetta released when the hip hop genre dominated the charts. Several Hip Hop artists were featured in the game, including DMXMethod ManRedmanLudacrisN.O.R.E.CaponeScarfaceGhostface KillahKeith MurrayWCJoe Budden and DJ Funkmaster Flex; all of which at the time were artists of Def Jam

 

The game features a largely unmodified AKI engine, used in the company's Virtual Pro Wrestling games and its spinoffs with some minor "button mashing" elements added and more of an arcade than a simulation. The game plays very similarly to WWF No Mercy, and features a lengthy story mode that allows you to level up and enhance one of four player characters in your quest to become the most well known star in the urban fighting league and fight the undefeated underground boss, D-Mob. This game was a No Mercy clone, which isn't a bad thing. This game provided all the same intense over-the-top action that THQ and AKI were known for during the 90's and 00's and that's why this game is on the list. Can someone please get Def Jam Vandetta 3 developed? 

6. Fire Pro Wrestling Returns - PlayStation 2, 2007

You cant have a list without having a Fire Pro Wrestling game. Let me just get it out of the way, This game is real damn good but not good enough to make it to the top of the list. What made this game so good? I'm glad you asked. The simplistic 2D sprites had so much character to them that you forgot that you were looking at sprites. It almost has a real 3D experience and is considered to be one of the deepest wrestling game around.

 

I could go and write a complete article about how good this game is but I'll save that for another time. Boasting one of the largest rosters around (around 327 wrestlers, I think), you could create wrestlers, referees and even up to 8 titles. That's a real testament to how incredible this game is. What prevented this game from hitting the top spot was the fact that, at the time, you could only import the game from Japan so a lot of the manual had to be printed or copied from a friend which took a bit of time. 

5. WWF Wrestlemania - Arcade, 1995

WWF Wrestlemania the arcade game made by Midway (R.I.P,) featured over the top moves examples include Doink the Clown pulling out a mallet out of thin air, Razor Ramon's arm transforming into a blade, or Bam Bam Bigelow's fists catching on fire. Or my favorite the Undertaker hitting you with a actual tombstone. While actual wrestling moves are present, matches consist primarily of strike attacks and special moves. This was pretty much Mortal Kombat with a WWF skin similarities to the Mortal Kombat games, such as uppercuts that cause the opponent to go sky high, flawless victories and very tongue-in-cheek character animations.

4. WWE All-Stars - Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP, PlayStation 2, Nintendo 3DS, 2011 

WWE All-stars made by Thq (R.I.P) is the spiritual squeal to wrestlemania the arcade game. At this point wwe had been putting out simulation type of games only.  The game is a combination of a fighting game and a wrestling game, with combos playing a major factor in gameplay, both on the ground and mid-air. Characters perform exaggerated moves, such as John Cena's Attitude Adjustment, in which he leaps high into the air and Triple H's Pedigree with shock waves running across the ring.[7] The game features contemporary WWE wrestlers such as Kane, Randy Orton, Triple H, The Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, CM Punk, Sheamus and John Cena and past wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, Ted DiBiase and Michael Hayes, as well as commentary from Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, who is also a playable character.

 

There were two main game modes. Path of Champions, players compete in a 10-match gauntlet against the WWE Legends, Superstars and Tag Teams. Along the way, the story progresses with cut-scenes from Undertaker, Randy Orton and D-Generation X. Path of Champions presents three unique story-lines in a ladder-style tournament: Path of Champions Legends – The Undertaker, Path of Champions Superstars – Randy Orton and Path of Champions Tag Team – D-Generation X. And fantasy warfare is a game mode which involves a series of 15 WWE dream matches that pit Legends of the past against a characteristically similar modern-day Superstar. The game was just plain fun and provided hours of old-school wrestling fanfare.

3. WWF Wrestlefest - Arcade 1991

By far the best arcade wrestling games of all time. If you grew up during the arcade boom of the 80's and 90's then you have come across this arcade at least once. Developed by Technōs Japan / THQ, this title has such high nostalgia value that THQ tried to re-release a re-booted version for iOS in 2012. The modern version featured modern day superstars mixing it up with legendary Hall Of Famers. 

 

The game was super fun, colorful, and had 10 of the most iconic names from wrestling's late-80s and early-90s. The simple game-play mechanics, mixed in with a variety of moves, made this an addictive arcade experience. There hasn't been another title like this in a long time. WWF Wrestlefest is definitely an experience that only comes around once and a lifetime and when it comes to a wrestling title, it doesn't get much better that this.

2. WCW/NWO Revenge - Nintendo 64, 1998

This was the one title that started the modern day trend of yearly wrestling titles. This game is probably one of the most influential wrestling games in the genre. Using World Tour's  previous engine, THQ made improvements in a umber of places. Adding in tighter game play, doubling the wrestler roster, customizable wrestler attire, adding in managers, and actual Nitro and Pay Per View arenas, this title had it all. With superstars like Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, Diamond Dallas Page, Bret HartBritish BulldogJim Neidhart, Curt HennigChris Jericho, just to name a few, who didn't want to play this game?

In a nutshell, anyone who had an N64 had Revenge. It was cool, it was edgy and it was definitely a product of the time as the WWF was in the shade of WCW for once. It was a huge financial success and outsold every other console game in North America. It really cemented THQ as a top developer and would only help them acquire the WWF license later on. Who knew that this game would set the stage for what was to come. 

1. WWF No Mercy - Nintendo 64, 2000

THQ's second WWF title sits at the very top with the title of "Greatest wrestling game ever made". Improving on every aspect of previous THQ wrestling games, No Mercy was the Attitude Era of wrestling games. The game was ahead of its time and was severely limited to the N64's cartridge format, but that didn't stop it from providing a wrestling experience that many remember fondly. 

Although the music was limited to an MIDI format, No Mercy provided much larger rosters, improved graphics and a robust career mode. No Mercy was the perfect game to pick up and play with your friends. There was nothing like sitting on your friends couch and beating each other up with ladders and chairs. It is even still played till this very day where it has garnered a large Modding community. Games of this caliber never go out of style.  

Did we leave any games out? Let us know in the comments below.

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