WWF WrestleFest: The Best WWE Game You’ll Probably Never Play Again

There’s one thing magical concerning the late ‘80s/ early ‘90s period of WWE (or WWF as it can at all times be recognized in my wrestling-loving coronary heart). Yes, it was full of medication, alcohol, questionable morals, and much more questionable mullets, however it was an period {of professional} wrestling that was bigger than life to the impressionable viewers who watched what was basically the craziest cartoon in existence play out in entrance of their younger eyes. It was like receiving a transmission from one other universe.

Years later, I spotted that a part of what made that period of wrestling so fascinating was the shortage of it. At a time earlier than weekly TV reveals, the web, and the WWE Network, you not often acquired to really watch wrestling. You is likely to be fortunate sufficient to bump into a brand new tape on the video retailer or catch a WWE present in your hometown, however, for essentially the most half, truly watching wrestling was a uncommon deal with that solely made the already magical nature of the present that rather more legendary.

It’s additionally why anybody who grew up in that age will always remember the primary time they walked into the arcade and laid eyes on WWF WrestleFest: the perfect wrestling sport that you just’ll in all probability by no means play once more.

Released in 1991, WWF WrestleFest discovered itself alongside traditional arcade video games like Pac-Man and pinball machines in addition to new releases reminiscent of The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and the juggernaut that was Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. Not each arcade featured the identical cupboards, however that’s an actual murderers row of arcade video games competing for consideration and quarters.

Yet, WWF WrestleFest had little bother capturing the eye of wrestling followers. For somebody like me, whose predominant publicity to wrestling at a younger age got here from hoping that the feed retailer or the gasoline station in our small city who additionally rented movies would occur to get a brand new wrestling tape in, the sight of WWF WrestleFest was overwhelming.

That’s actually the very first thing you have to perceive about WWF WrestleFest as a sport. From a visible perspective, it was astonishing. I discussed earlier how WWE at the moment was, basically, a Saturday morning cartoon, however right here was a sport that used then top-of-the-line arcade visuals to really flip wrestling right into a cartoon.

It’s an artwork type that solely actually existed in that period of gaming, and it’s actually the one artwork type that might have correctly captured that period of wrestling. You need to do not forget that most console wrestling video games again then have been like most different licensed video games on the time: they sucked. They slapped a well-known brand and face on the field to lure you in and punished you for being a fan with abysmal graphics and gameplay that resembled precise wrestling about as shut because it resembled precise leisure.

Further Reading: The History of WrestleMania Battle Royals

WrestleFest was completely different With their neon apparel, cel-shaded frames, and exaggerated animations, the wrestlers in WrestleFest not solely seemed like their real-life counterparts, however they seemed just like the superheroes that these performers have been to so many younger followers. Not even WWF Superstars, which was developed by the identical firm behind WrestleFest and launched simply two years earlier, featured the intense palettes and clean strikes that made WrestleFest stand out.

The wrestlers on the sport’s roster definitely helped the title’s trigger. While Macho Man Randy Savage’s presence is missed (what an ideal character for the sport), the truth that WrestleFest options each Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior at what could also be each males’s recognition heights already makes the roster particular. On high of that, you get the mix of unimaginable tag groups (Demolition and The Legion of Doom), pure employees beloved by followers “in the know” (Jake the Snake Roberts, “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, and Mr. Perfect), and low-end novelty acts that have been memorable regardless of their place on the cardboard (Earthquake and Big Boss Man) that showcased the depth of the WWE roster on the time and the way the corporate in some way managed to show so a lot of these performers into legends.

Gameplay-wise, WWF WrestleFest was removed from a revolution. Actually, its gameplay was nearer to 2D brawler with a aggressive multiplayer mode. Aside from kicks and punches, you’ll be able to grapple along with your opponent, which doesn’t translate to quite a lot of further strikes decided by an algorithm (excluding your finisher and a few cool double crew strikes). Modes are equally restricted, as you’ll be able to both work your approach via the tag crew circuit or take part in a Royal Rumble. 

Yet, WrestleFest’s restricted gameplay carries a allure of its personal. Anyone on the lookout for a critical combating expertise might head over to the Street Fighter II cupboard. This was about replicating the expertise of early ‘90s WWE wrestling, which was all about larger-than-life wrestlers wowing the gang with easy – but exhilarating and devastating – feats of power. Anything extra elaborate would not have been true to the overwhelming majority of wrestlers featured within the sport.

Besides, we’ve seen what occurs when wrestling video games turn into too difficult. They lose the straightforward allure of titles like WWF No Mercy that handle to attraction to extra than simply essentially the most hardcore wrestling followers. WWF WrestleFest could have spoken loudest to wrestling followers, however its easy gameplay and great visuals may very well be loved by anybody who wished to battle their associates with out having to memorize elaborate combos and three/four joystick turns.

Sadly, followers and the casually curious alike have about the identical probability today of taking part in WWF WrestleFest because it was meant to be performed.

Further Reading: 50 Best WrestleMania Storylines

Even if you happen to ignore the truth that WWF WrestleFest developer Technōs Japan declared chapter in 1996, you’ve nonetheless acquired to account for the truth that this sport is known as WWF WrestleFest. The guidelines governing when WWE can use the previous WWF brand are difficult, however we’re guessing that the method of porting this sport to the trendy age isn’t well worth the headache that comes together with these authorized hurdles. There’s additionally the tragic undeniable fact that 6 of the 12 characters featured within the sport are actually lifeless.

Besides, WrestleFest reportedly didn’t carry out that nicely within the first place. Unless you need to resort to an unlawful obtain or spending over $2,000 on a WrestleFest machine, you’re going to need to accept the inferior WWE WrestleFest cellular remake, which in some way appears to be like and performs worse than the unique it so shamelessly shares its title with.

In a approach, although, I’m considerably selfishly glad that the trendy WrestleFest is so dangerous and the unique WrestleFest is so elusive. As good as it’s to have a lot wrestling at our fingertips today, there’s part of me that’s at all times going to overlook when my publicity to wrestling got here via the odd TV particular or the most recent WrestleMania tape. It was a time when the straightforward presence of wrestling felt magical.

WWF WrestleFest deserves to remain without end younger in that interval. Release it right this moment and it’ll nearly definitely be enjoyable, however by remaining elusive, WWF WrestleFest retains chronological invincibility in the identical approach that Hulk Hogan retained his championship at the least one too many WrestleManias. Whenever I give it some thought, I really feel the identical as I did after I walked into an arcade and noticed it for the primary time. It was one thing I by no means knew existed, at all times knew I wished, and it solely price 1 / 4.

Matthew Byrd is a workers author for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days attempting to pitch deep-dive analytical items about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an more and more perturbed collection of editors. You can learn extra of his work right here or discover him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014

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