|By Jason Vincion||Friday, 20 Nov 2009|
Pro Wrestling is a game that I was introduced to at Loyal Heights Community Center, which is the place I went to spend the day during the summer when my parents were working. I was nine when I started going there, so I was still a little too young to be trusted by myself at home. There were many activities for us to participate in, but my favorite was playing Nintendo – the more things change, right? Of the few games they had there, one of them was Pro Wrestling. I believe the others were Super Mario Bros., Track and Field, Ice Hockey, Stinger, and they eventually got an Excitebike cabinet. Even with that array of games available, I spent most of the time playing Pro Wrestling. I’m curious as to whether my youthful enthusiasm for the game has held up over the years, so let’s find out! Pro Wrestling, in contrast to most other wrestling titles, creates a fictional universe without the traditional “big name, real-life wrestlers” allure. Basically, you wrestle as one of six wrestlers (Fighter Hayabusa, Star Man, Kin Corn Karn, Giant Panther, The Amazon, King Slender) to try to win the VWA championship. Usually, King Slender holds the belt, but if you wrestle as him, Giant Panther has it. Once you are successful at attaining the championship belt, you must defend the belt against the other five wrestlers, until you have defended it enough times to earn a shot at the VWF champion, Great Puma.
Gameplay-wise, the controls for Pro Wrestling are easy to learn, and fairly easy to master. There aren’t any weird combos and to do special moves, you have to get into grappling position with your opponent, then press one of the four directions and the A button. The moves are pretty entertaining to watch, so you should find something that you like. The movement of each wrestler is rather fluid, and they’re all easy to control. The difficulty, on the other hand, can get pretty hairy sometimes, because the computer AI gets smarter and smarter as the game goes on. When (if) you reach the Great Puma, prepare to button mash like mad, because that’s the only way you’ll beat him. That’s the only downside I can see concerning the difficulty, as it gets a little too difficult to be enjoyable in the later stages of the game.
The later stages of the game come up rather quickly when playing, however. This game takes about a half an hour to get through if you speed through it. It probably will take an hour or two if you’re not that good at the game yet. While that’s a little short by today’s standards, I think it’s a fine amount of time for a wrestling game such as this on the NES. The graphics in Pro Wrestling aren’t much to write home about, but I keep repeating to myself, “This game was made in 1986.” The graphics aren’t that bad and the pictures of the characters look decent, but they are kind of blurry. One pitfall is that the wrestlers are all the same size, even though their profiles say differently. However, they all look like wrestlers, so too much complaining about it would be futile. The color palettes are fairly basic and they lack some depth, but they’re about on par with NES games of the time.
The music for this game is pretty much the same theme over and over again, and it’s not that great. It repeats after 25 seconds and there’s not much to it. All
of the other themes are even shorter and not necessarily any better, although the pre-match and ending themes are memorable. The sound effects aren’t bad, but they don’t really add anything, although the hitting sounds pretty stiff. The VWA must have a pretty stiff canvas for the hits to sound that hard, as they sound exactly the same when a wrestler gets thrown outside onto the concrete/mats covering the concrete. The VWA is hardcore! Pro Wrestling certainly isn’t the most technically proficient game ever made, but it is fun. You’ve got six characters with unique personalities and special moves, and each has their own charm (okay, so Fighter Hayabusa and Kin Corn Karn are kind of lacking, although Karn is enjoyable for his sheer idiocy). It hasn’t stood the test of time very well, as wrestling games have been vastly improved (now that you can create your own wrestler, highly customize him/her, and have a bajillion moves in newer games), but for a little no-nonsense grappling with some of the silliest wrestlers since mid 90′s WWF, you can’t go wrong with Pro Wrestling.