As this year-long look at wrestling video games begins to enter the final lap, I figured it was time to look at a few games that weren’t available in the states and could only be played through importing or now, well, other ways. (I won’t say how but it rhymes with smemulation…) The game featured this month is a bit of an odd one because for one, All Japan is not currently a big deal either in Japan or in the States so there is bound to be low familiarity with younger, less cultured readers, (and guys like Kris), and two, it features Jeffrey and Wolf from Sega’s Virtua Fighter series as playable characters. All Japan Pro Wrestling featuring Virtua, bang up job on the name guys, was originally published in October of 1997 for the Sega Saturn in Japan. It was never released outside of Japan for obvious reasons which is quite a shame. The roster on this disc includes some of the biggest names in Puroresu history including Giant Baba, Akiyama, and Misawa. And while it doesn’t play the same as the legendary AKI games for the 64, there is a damn good time to be had. (if you know, you smemulate a copy…)
What really sets this game apart, for me anyway, is just how decidedly different it is than American wrestling games. This is a game that takes its content very seriously. What it lacks in flash, (no story mode really or hardcore match type or cage or cell or really anything outside of “normal” wrestling can be found), it more than makes up for in quality. This is not a button masher. To play this game you have to think in terms of wrestling logic and apply moves and holds that wear down your opponent until you can finish the match. The moves themselves are presented beautifully being motion captured by actual All Japan wrestlers and the grappling system is one built on strikes and counters leading into holds and moves. And once you start hitting those moves, it becomes painfully obvious just how much more hard-hitting Japanese wrestling is versus its American counterpart. The sound is also really good on this game with big moves and strikes sounding like they hurt. The graphics are good but not stellar for the Saturn and the game plays a bit slower than might be expected, but overall, it delivers on the promise of authentic Japanese Pro Wrestling, featuring Virtua.
If you’ve never played this game do yourself a favor and find a Saturn smemulator and a copy of this game. It’s relatively easy to learn even without speaking Japanese being able to wreck house as Stan Hansen or Misawa is just too good an opportunity to pass up. Make sure to share this article around and follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, for more daily bullshit. And make sure to check back next week as we look at another reason I love wrestling, and you should too.