I’ve been playing WWE ‘13 for the better part of a week now, and while I find the improvements made to the game over the years to be endearing and fun, a part of me is still kind of frustrated with how slow the progress has been to finally get THQ and Yukes to produce a decent game with the WWE license. I’ll admit it, wrestling games have been a passion of mine from a young age, starting back when I had an old computer on dial-up and discovered the magical world of emulation and while looking for Super Nintendo wrestling games, I stumbled upon Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium. It really didn’t make sense to me at the time (it was in Japanese), but with the help of message boards I was able to not only navigate the game, but start playing it and really loving all that it offered.
Part of what blew me away was the ‘edit’ mode where you could literally create your own character. It seems cliche and passe in 2012, but in 1998, pre-WWF Warzone for the N64, this was absolutely incredible. From there, I was hooked, over the years falling in love with the AKI titles ranging from WCW vs. nWo World tour to WCW vs. nWo Revenge and of course Virtual Pro Wrestling 2. Honestly, I’ve owned about 5 copies of Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 in my lifetime, and I might never stop playing it, it is just that good. Over the years, the Fire Pro series and then later the King of Colesseum titles kept me going, but after Fire Pro R was released and then there was radio silence from Japan, wrestling games became a desolate wasteland. The yearly WWE-installment games were fine, fun, but I treat like fever delirium; I play them like a madman for a weekend and then never want to play them again and look back and see how crazy I was.
Will WWE ‘13 be the game that I keep coming back to? Maybe. It is fun and definitely has its upsides, and maybe it is time to just embrace these games, but as a matter of defiance and what I’ll consider moderate expertise, I want more out of them. Like we’ve seen in other parts of the gaming world, the world of indie games is always an option, and for wrestling gamers it looks like things are finally looking up. Dave Horn’s Action Arcade Wrestling has been on XBL’s Indie Games section for a while now and is good fun, albeit a bit simple, but never fear, he’s working on Action Arcade Wrestling 2 and it looks really, really good. Then there is Mat Dickie’s Wrestling Revolution on Android and iOS, and yes, while it is a smartphone touchscreen game and is a Mat Dickie game, it is incredibly addictive.
I haven’t always been a big Mat Dickie fan in the past, which is nothing against him or his endeavors and just a matter of taste. Something about his 3D games has always felt a bit… off… to me, so I was skeptical of the release of Wrestling Revolution, but I played the free version and was blown away by how fun and intuitive the game was. The touchscreen controls might not always be perfect, but they work well enough to where I bought the game and when he was doing weekly updates found myself regularly checking the Google Play store to see if it was updated yet because I wanted more. He’s currently overhauling the game to include a sprawling story mode and the ability to create your own matches and characters and store them, and I personally cannot wait.
Of course, the elephant in the room here is Pro Wrestling X Uprising, the lumbering beast in wrestling indie games that has aspired to be so much more since its inception. There is a whole crazy backstory to Pro Wrestling X, but you don’t need to know that right now. Just know that Pro Wrestling X has been in development for a while now and the “lite” version of the game, Uprising, is being primed for release right now. This is something that I’ve been excited about playing for a long time, and when it finally happens, it could help lead to a paradigm shift in the wrestling game world.
Even if Fire Pro Wrestling “Avatar” on Xbox Live Arcade wasn’t really a Fire Pro game, it actually sold moderately well for what it was, and there might even be a chance that Spike-Chunsoft dust off the old 2D series (or even the 3D KoC games) and make a serious run at the market again. Hell, even if all else fails, SonnyBone’s SUPLEX project, while still in a conceptual phase, has great potential to blow the lid off of the whole thing if everything else fails.
For now, there are some options already available that are fun and some stuff coming down the pipeline that should be fun, so it is safe to say that being a person who enjoys wrestling games, while things might not be perfect, there are at least options.