Saturday, 19 December 2015

WWF WrestleFest - Arcade


A golden age for some fans


At one point, before the current rage of WWF with "The Rock" and "Stone Cold Steve Austin" (which is likely showing my age right now but oh well) and after the likes of Giant Haystacks and Big Daddy, there was the pandemic of WWF wrestling featuring The Hulk (young version), Big Boss Man (RIP), Jake the Snake Roberts, Ultimate Warrior (RIP), Mr Perfect (RIP) and Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase, and my word that's a lot of dead people (most of them around the age of mid 40's too...).

Lots of fights, or one big brawl?

So, what do we have then? Well it's a fine mash up of fake acting and overtly fat men jumping around a roped-off arena and pretending to be hurt. Much like the video game then BWAHAHA... Ok I'll stop there. WWF WrestleFest takes the approach of giving up to 4 players a chance to "be" their favourite 90's wrestlers and duke it out mano-e-mano in the ring with the chance to pull off all the trademark moves of their 'heroes' in an attempt to be just like them.

It get chaotic, fast.

WWF WrestleFest does bring to the game a medley of 12 wrestlers and 2 main gameplay options. There's the 2 vs. 2 tag team game that players can progress through (or battle each other) and take on other tag teams until they reach the final against the Legion of Doom (a.k.a The Legion of Spiky Shoulder Pads they NEVER USE IN A MATCH) or they can go the 30minute long, Royal Rumble in which they start in the ring and battle each other until only one person is left standing by either counting other wrestlers out with pins and submissions, or throwing them out of the ring entirely.

It's the tag-team nobody asked for!

Controls in WWF WrestleFest are slightly unintuitive to say the least. You've the joystick, a punch button and a kick button. But these are contextual buttons and it all depends upon what the opponent is doing, or how they are poised that will end up with what you actually do. If the opponent is down, punching does attacks, while kicking attempts a pin. But stand near their head and you'll pick them up for more attacks, while also being able to run and launch yourself upon them. Tagging out requires being at the corner with your teammate and pressing punch, but hold a direction too long and you'll find yourself climbing the turnbuckle instead.

Slight variation, there's no rope-rebounding allowed

Despite this, WWF WrestleFest also makes things far more awkward than it needs to by using the idea of "grappling" and having it come across "randomly hitting buttons to struggle against an arbitrarily decided outcome". It seems grapples are decided mainly by the computer determining which outcome it actually wants and tough shit if you're not the one it chooses. On top of THAT, actually determining which moves you'll get as a result is almost as much of a lottery if only because once you've "won" a grapple, the next button press will perform a move, by that point you'll likely be hammering buttons still to try and win the grapple, so the move happens regardless of your attempts.

He looks as old there as he does now, was this game predicting the future?

Aside from the controls being dodgy, WWF WrestleFest has the lovely little time in showing us large sprites, fairly detailed graphics and even get to the point where we see SOME muscled and toned men and many fat men, so at least there's some accurate depictions of the actors, I mean, wrestlers. The audio within WWF WrestleFest has a slightly muffled commentary but it's clear enough to make out what's being said most of the time while the impacts and slams onto the canvas are suitable amplified just like in the shows to add gravitas to the dancing around these men are doing.

Even the Ref gets to dance to SaturdayNight Fever.

WWF WrestleFest, is more famous as being the arcade that few would play while many would realise what it was depicting, a genre of entertainment that had a high in the early 90s before becoming obscure and then returning many years later. But it does the job well of featuring the main names from the time, just a shame it's not very playable and about as much of an act as the 'real' thing is.