WILW Games: Tecmo World Wrestling
While not my favorite NES wrestling title, that goes to Pro Wrestling, Tecmo World Wrestling is without question the best pure wrestling title on the system. There is so much going on with this game that it’s a bit surprising it was pulled off on the NES hardware. Each of the wrestlers has a deep move set, plays completely differently in terms of attack style, and has a unique look. Tecmo World Wrestling is also the first wrestling game to feature commentary. Ahead of its time in nearly every way, Tecmo World Wrestling set the bar for wrestling simulations out of the gate and never saw a real competitor.
Releasing in 1990, TWW was the follow up release to Tecmo Bowl, a game that did fairly well here in the states. (consider the fact that there are still Tecmo Bowl tournaments to this day) Pro Wrestling in 1990 was about as hot as could be as well. Not choosing to cash in on name value though, Tecmo went the indy route and created a slew of wrestlers mirroring real life superstars of the time. The roster featured ten different characters, each with a unique move set and based on guys like Hulk Hogan, Harley Race, Vader, and even Stan Hansen. The characters were fleshed out with a somewhat interesting bio and a profile pic that showed a bit of their personalities. What made the gameplay really standout was the fact that by not having a dedicated grapple button, players locked up when they got near each other, TWW was able to graft about twenty different moves to each wrestler. Unlike the licensed games and Nintendo’s own Pro Wrestling which consisted of mostly kicking and punching or spamming one move in particular, TWW turned into a strategy game. You had to wear your opponent down before you could deliver your more powerful moves and finishers. What made the moves even cooler was the use of the Tecmo cinematic camera most famously seen in the Ninja Gaiden cutscenes. When you performed a particularly devastating move the camera would cut to a cinematic replay showing the move from closer up and a freeze frame for dramatic effect. It was awesome and really added to the overall feel of the game as a real representation of the sport.
All of that would have been enough to set TWW apart. However, this game featured a ton of little things that really put it in a class by itself. First of all there was the commentary. Tom Talker, shitty name sure, commentated your match in real time with a set of canned responses. It wasn’t Bobby and Gorilla but it was something. Some of the one liners ended up being pretty funny due to the direct Japanese to English translation. (“He hit the deck solid! The bones went crunch!”) In between matches you were given the opportunity to train your wrestler in a set of button mashing mini games. Game play featured standard in-ring moves as well as moves from the turnbuckle, to the outside, to a downed opponent as well as submission holds. The game even allowed you to customize your wrestler’s name and have that name called during the match. While far from a perfect game, (the difficulty of the game is insane and the final, hidden boss, “The Earl of Doom” Blue King, is a monstrous pain in the ass) Tecmo World Wrestling did more then enough right to make it one of my favorite wrestling games of all time. Copies are pretty cheap to come by if you’ve got a console set up and if not, well, as always there’s a way if you really want to. Join me next week as we take a look at another reason I love Wrestling and don’t forget to follow me on twitter and instagram, @geekadedan, for more wrestling related content. Until then…