Thursday, 6 April 2017

Royal Pro Wrestling (3d0)

There's a long and fine tradition in Japanese wrestling games, most famously seen in the Fire Pro series, whereby the roster will be full of real life wrestlers but with their names changed to some silly nonsense, and that's apparently enough to get around any copyright laws. (And I'm sure you're aware that this was a common practice in arcade games in general throughout the 80s, leading to difficulties when it comes to modern rereleases of games like Outrun and Afterburner, as copyright holders begin to notice that their stuff was being used without permission). Anyway, Royal Pro Wrestling carries on that tradition in amazing style, with names like Mike Warrior, Golden Lips and Underdise the Morgan. My favourite is the name they've given Randy Savage, though: Andy Savage. Amazing!

Anyway, Royal Pro Wrestling plays like any typical Japanese wrestling game of the 16-bit era (except the Fire Pro series, which were always a class above the rest): you lock up by walking into each other, then hammer the buttons and direction in the hopes of performing a move. You've also got running moves, top rope moves, and there's always exactly one chair at ringside waiting to be used as a weapon. Some characters even have planchas where they jump over the ropes to land on an opponent outside the ring! The roster of wrestlers is pretty big, and split into American, Japanese and Mexican wrestlers (though most of the wrestlers in the Mexican section are just masked Juniors from Japan, like Tiger Mask and Jushin Liger). There's also four arenas, one for each country, and another, extravagant one that's inside some kind of ACropolis-style building.

You might have noticed the slight dig at the game in the last paragraph, saying it's a typical 16-bit game when it's on a 32-bit console. The thing is though, it really does play, and mostly also look like a SNES game, plus there are only two match types: single and tag, with no rule modifications or anything like that. There is a concession to the new hardware, though: the presentation, outside of the matches themselves, is excellent. If you play career mode, each match is preceded by a great-looking animated and voice-acted promo from your opponent (though the voice acting is awful, which lets the game down a little). There's also really great comic-style artwork for each wrestler on the versus screen, and a very short FMV clip of the outside of each arena, to add a bit more flavour. Come to think of it, there's some nice little touches in-match, too: during tag matches, the referee will argue with illegal wrestlers if they don't get out of the ring, and wrestlers whose real-life counterparts have managers will have them at ringside in this game too.

Royal Pro Wrestling is far from being a classic, but it is a very well-made game, as well as being the only wrestling game (as far as I know) on the 3d0. If you're curious, it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot. And if you need a break from actually playing, there's also a massive gallery of concept art in the menu, which is interesting, and the game being what it is, essentially a load of 90s wrestling fanart.

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