Overall Rating: 1.5/5 Stars
Professional wrestling, for decades, has maintained the dubious distinction of being widely popular without being a legitimate sport. Set as more of a modern-day combative Greek drama soap opera, the muscular men (and women, occasionally) strap into their tight, colorful spandex outfits and engage in a scripted skit to the delight of violence-loving fans everywhere. Naturally, it followed that many, many wrestling video games would be released over the years, including Pro Wrestling in 1986 for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System home console.
Choosing one of six wrestlers (Fighter Hayabusa, Star Man, Kin Corn Karn, Giant Panther, The Amazon, or King Slender), the one-player mode consisted of a tournament where the player must defeat all the other characters in a row. Losing a match brings up the Game Over screen, whereas winning displays the infamous “WINNER IS YOU” screen. Two-player mode is a single bout against a second player.
Although it can technically be considered a fighting game, it is rather basic. The B button punches, the A button does a jump kick, each character has a grapple move or two, a double-tap of a direction goes into a dash, and stuff can be done when the player launches off the ropes or jumps off the turnbuckle. Hitting the B button near a fallen foe sets them up, dazed, while the A button tries to pin them, a count of 3 ending the match. The characters are just palette swaps of the same basic pixel figure, and their moves are mostly the same, with perhaps the fun exception of The Amazon’s grapple move where he bites the other character in the head a few times.
This is a crude-looking video game, albeit not the NES game with the absolute visuals. The animations are terrible and chunky, though, and the other elements do not exactly make up for it. The title screen, for example, is among the worst that the 8-bit Nintendo system has to offer. The hit detection for the sprites is not good at all.
Simplistic “thumps” and “thugs” are highlighted by bland, repetitive background music. The tracks are serviceable, and at least indicate that a little work went into them, but are nonetheless
This was among the first wrestling games ever made for the NES, and a very early title on its own merits, but even in such context it can hardly be forgiven for shallow gameplay, sluggish graphics, and uninspired design overall. Once you master the strategy of “Kick the guy to knock him down, climb the turnbuckle and jump onto him, then kick him when he stands up and repeat until it’s time to pin,” the game is pretty dull. It can provide a modicum of lighthearted fun at first, and is admittedly more fun with a second player of course, but this is not a great game, ergo the one and a half stars out of five rating handed out by final boss Grand Puma.
For a look at other 8-bit classics, check www.NintendoLegend.com.