Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pixels & Powerbomb Highlights, Episode I

Pixels and Powerbombs is a side project in which I attempt to play almost every pro wrestling video game ever made. Periodically, I will highlight a few games here on RGD. Check out two of them here!

If all I wrote here were the letters “LJN” you would likely be able to figure out the quality of the game. The presentation is pretty good for an NES game of the time considering officially-liscensed wrestling games were relatively new. The movement is abysmal and performing any action in the game is a chore. There’s pretty much no fun to be had. On the bright side, though, the music in this game is pretty stellar. It features a lot of chiptune versions of wrestler themes and they translate very well. It kind of irks me that the character named “You” in the game is a dark haired white man, assuming everyone playing the game looks like that. To end on a positive, though, at least the game has Rick Rude in it.

From the period in Square Soft/Square Enix history when they were on top of the world and willing to publish almost anything, Square Soft published one of a trilogy of pro wrestling games for the PlayStation 2 very early in its life. This game’s defining characteristic is that the default control method uses only the two joysticks to do everything in the game and doesn’t use the face buttons whatsoever outside of menu navigation. I’ve only tried the analog control method so far and it is incredibly difficult and it honestly feels pretty unnatural. I had to look up a guide to figure out how to something as basic as a grapple (hint: L3 + R3 initiates the grapple, then you have to tap the right stick in the direction of your opponent one, two or three times depending on the strength of the grapple you’re going for. Are you following me still?)

Regardless of the cumbersome default controls, I thought the presentation of the game was excellent. Featuring an arena heavily resembling the Tokyo Dome, the camera work and on screen text during the entrances feels authentic to watching an actual Japanese wrestling program.

Featuring a roster of several notable wrestling figures from Japan at the time, even someone who is a relative newcomer into Japanese wrestling like me was able to recognize a few of the names. The game even features the man who popularized wrestling Japan in the 1950s and 60s, Rikidōzan. When he enters the ring, a portal opens at the top of the arena and he emerges from heaven to participate in the match, which I thought was nice considering how important he is to pro wrestling history.
The next time I play the game I am going to try to navigate the Japanese menus and set up the traditional front-facing button controls. I feel like there is a game here that I could really get into given the time.

For more screenshots and more games, check out the main page at the link above!

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