Note: This game was played on the Mega Retron HD console. It was connected via HDMI to a 65-inch HD-tv.
Note 2: The version of the game reviewed here is the Japanese release. However, this Japanese version appears to be an identical version of the game to the European release. The one and only difference I noted was the color of the main wrestler’s hair (your player, Bruce Blade) is black in the Japanese version. However, when I changed the region switch on the Mega Retron HD to NTSC-U, his hair changed to blond! This is the reason why, in the pictures I’ve added, sometimes his hair was black or sometimes blond – it depended on the region the switch was set to!
Brief History: Wrestle War was released in Japan and Europe in 1991. It is a port of an arcade game that was released in 1989. The game was never released in the U.S., and despite clearly having wrestlers ‘inspired’ by real-life wrestling icons, the game was not licensed by any wrestling promotion. The box art for the game, clearly depicting Hulk Hogan, was changed for the European release.
Gameplay: Take control of Bruce Blade, a rookie wrestler. Travel across the U.S. to the different wrestling territories and take on the best! Capture and defend the SWF and SWA World Heavyweight titles! Beat the eight different wrestlers in the game, and you are declared the Wrestle War Champion!
Control: Being a port of an arcade game, the control scheme is incredibly easy. A punches. B kicks. C grapples. When in a grapple, mashing A and winning the grapple whips (sends them running) your opponent into the ropes. When they return to you, hitting A or B executes a back body drop or a drop kick. You can also run off the opposite ropes and hit them with a clothesline. When in a grapple, mashing B and winning the grapple executes a body slam. Holding Up + B executes a vertical suplex, and Holding Down + B excutes a piledriver. When you’re opponent’s energy is nearly depleted, you’ll execute a ‘super’ piledriver by holding Down + B that goes into an automatic cover and pin. You can also execute ‘back’ grapples. In order to achieve this, you must punch or kick your opponent until they’re ‘tired.’ Then press C and you’ll execute the back grapple. Win it by mashing B, and you’ll give your opponent a back suplex. If his energy is nearly depleted, you’ll execute a German suplex for an automatic pin. Lastly, when you’re opponent is on the mat, pressing B will stomp him, and pressing A near his head picks him up. Oh, you can also whip your opponent outside the ring if you’re close to the bottom of the screen. Press up to re-enter the ring before the 20 count. Press A or B to pick up and bash your opponent with the box or chair while you’re out there.
Choose your wrestler? Well, in 2 player vs. Unfortunately, you’re relegated to using only Bruce Blade in the single player mode. Bruce Blade is awesome, but it’s unfortunate that you can’t pick any wrestler, particularly since many of them have their own unique moves. In 2 player versus, however, the 2nd player can select any of the other wrestlers in the game.
Difficulty: Easy, Normal, and Hard are all available. This changes the amount of energy your opponent starts with. This is one wrestling game where winning grapples is not terribly difficult, and beating the game on Easy, although you may suffer a loss here or there, is not that tough.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: B+ I would absolutely give Wrestle War an A if you could pick any of the other wrestlers to play through the game with. But this wrestling game is short, simple, and amazingly addictive. The size of the wrestlers on screen is awesome, and hitting the small selection of moves is incredibly satisfying. This game isn’t doing anything spectacular, yet I’ve found myself coming back to it again and again because of its gameplay. I love wrestling games (see my other reviews!) and this is, although amazingly simple, one of the best I’ve ever played. Additionally, everything is completely in English!