Monday, 23 May 2011

Cutie Suzuki no Ringside Angel (Mega Drive)

Before the Fire Pro series came along in the early 1990s*, wrestling games were kind of awful. They'd be stiff, awkward affairs in which victory seemed to be down to luck as much as skill. I was surprised, then, to play this game and find out it's actually pretty great!
It's based on (and starring) real-life wrestler Cutie Suzuki (information you may have already gleaned from the title), though all the other wrestlers in the game are fictional. I assume someone at Asmik is a metal fan, since one of the characters is named "Helloween I. Sato" and another "Megadeath Saito". It's actually the second wrestling game on a Sega console that I know of to be based around a real-life female wrestler (the other one being "Gokuaku Doumei Dump Matsumoto" for the Master System, which was released as generic old "Pro Wrestling" in the west, as well as having all the characters turned into men. Booo.). Nowadays there aren't any, which is a shame. A game based around the Ice Ribbon or Shimmer promotions would probably be a day-one purchase for me. OH WELL.
Anyway, as I said at the start of the review, the game is a lot better than I was expecting. In single player mode, you pick a wrestler** and then go through a series of tournaments and leagues, winning trophies until you get to the final "Grand Champion" tournament. Well, I assume it's the final one. It's as far as I've been able to get so far, anyway.
During the match, you can do typical wrestling attacks and moves, including jumping onto a downed opponent from the top rope, which can even be done if your opponent is lying on the floor outside the ring! You have to be pretty quick to do it, but it looks awesome, does tons of damage andis incredibly satisfying. The wrestlers' health is shown by their portraits at the top of the screen: the less happy they look, the closer they are to losing the match, especially if they're shaking. When your opponent is looking their most unhappy, the music will change to a faster and more dramatic tune, and if you can get a pin at this point, you've pretty much won the match.
There's even a primitive form of running commentary, but only in text form. In the corner of the screen, a relatively normal looking guy, accompanied by one of his guest hosts (including a dinosaur, Colonel Sanders and a guy who speaks in nonsensical engrish) will constantly be talking, all in japanese unfortunately.
In summary, this is a really fun and cool game that's a lot better than I was expecting and definitely a lot better than most of it's contempories in the genre.

*Although the Fire Pro series started in 1989, it didn't really kick off until the SNES games a few years later (in my opinion).
**PROTIP: Press C to see their names. Why aren't they displayed by default? Who knows?

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