It’s WrestleMania week this week and, as gaming editor, I’m celebrating the only way I know how: writing some shit tier, barely relevant content. Now, you’ve probably already got plans in motion for how you’re going to watch WrestleMania, whether that be live or the day after, at home or at one of hundreds of pubs and clubs holding an event for the occasion.
For many, their plans will likely involve piling into the household of whoever has a WWE Network subscription and watching it together, doritos in one hand and [insert alcoholic beverage of your choice] in the other. Arguably, it’s the best way to experience the current WWE product: completely hammered with friends.
But with two hours of pre-show to sit through before the main broadcast, you’re going to want to find something to do to pass the time with your guests, so why not break out the wrestling games? Most wrestling games support up to four players and they’re a great way to build hype and excitement before the event. With that in mind, let’s look these seven candidates for your WrestleMania viewing party.
The popularity of the WWE wrestling games might have waned considerably over the past couple of iterations, namely when 2K took over from THQ, but the fact remains that WWE 2K18 is a great way to get you in the mood for WrestleMania. With its graphics, presentation and roster, you could create your own mini-WrestleMania before the show proper, using it to predict the results of matches like Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles. Or you could just use it for fantasy booking Braun Strowman to win every title in existence.
Fire Pro Wrestling World
For those who prefer Wrestle Kingdom over WrestleMania, Fire Pro Wrestling is notorious for its skill based gameplay and emphasis on strategy and timing over just mashing buttons until it works. Though it’s currently only available on PC, Fire Pro Wrestling World offers the same kind of insanity that the Japanese wrestling scene became known for, including barbed wire and landmine deathmatches. If anything, Fire Pro Wrestling is the series that referred to Scott Hall as a “drunk character with a huge body”. Make of that what you will.
One of the most underrated wrestling games ever, WWE All-Stars was designed to exemplify the grandiose nature that is wrestling. Wrestlers were giant caricatures of themselves, designed to accentuate the larger than life aspects of their characters, but it wasn’t all presentation. The gameplay engine was superb, allowing for insane juggle combos, over the top grapple attacks, and nigh on infinite chain reversals. The roster contained a mix of current (at the time) wrestlers and WWE Legends, meaning you could create tag matches with the likes of Hulk Hogan and Sheamus fighting CM Punk and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Even non-gaming fans should get a kick out of it.
WWF No Mercy/WrestleMania 2000
We’re doubling up for this one, largely because WWF No Mercy and WrestleMania 2000 are ostensibly the same game. There a few differences, such as No Mercy having backstage fights and a better weapon system, whilst WrestleMania 2000 has better entrances along with faster gameplay. Ultimately, both satisfy the same purpose: providing you with a wave of nostalgia for the Attitude Era. Both games also utilise the much loved AKI Engine, which formed the backbone of some of the best wrestling games ever made, No Mercy and WM 2000 included. Just so long as you don’t decide to start playing WCW Backstage Assault, because fuck that game and everything it stands for.
Def Jam: Fight For New York
Another smash hit for the AKI Engine, Def Jam: Fight For New York was the second game in the Def Jam wrestling/fighting game series that used real life rappers and other celebrities and had them do battle in bars, underground fight clubs and burning buildings. Yes, that explanation makes it sound shite, but Fight For New York was the pinnacle of the series, combining accessible brawling with a more intricate grapple and reversal game. Plus, you got to see Henry Rollins cave in the skull of Snoop Dogg, which is something you never thought you wanted to see until you see it.
Saturday Night Slam Masters
Released in Japan with the much better name of Muscle Bomber: The Body Explosion, Saturday Night Slam Masters was a Capcom wrestling game with ties to the Final Fight universe. Shared universes didn’t start with Marvel, after all. Featuring Mike Haggar from Final Fight, along with a few other wrestle bois, Slam Masters was a fast paced, arcade-style affair that blended wrestling with traditional fighting game mechanics. Granted, it might be a bit hard to get hold of an arcade game, or its SNES and SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis ports, but you could just download an emulator and be done with it. Where there’s a piledriver, there’s a way.
John Cena’s Sexy High School Adventure
Yes, this is a thing that exists, and in the words of Bobby Roode, it is GLORIOUS. About as unrelated to wrestling as you could possibly get, John Cena’s Sexy High School Adventure is precisely what it says on the tin. Well, what it says on the website at least. A parody of the visual novel genre, and of John Cena I guess, you control Fucco-san, who starts his first day of school; a school that just happens to contain various versions of John Cena. As the story unfolds, you can romance the different Cena’s, get invited to prom, and maybe even save the world. It’s bloody hilarious, and will probably be better than the inevitable Cena vs Undertaker match at WrestleMania. The game even got a sequel too, so you can really make a day out of it.
And that’s the list. Any games we missed? Do you plan on playing any of these games this WrestleMania weekend? Let us know in the comments, and stay tuned for more gaming/wrestling content this week. That’s right guys, I’M NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!
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