Pro Wrestling Review


Pro Wrestling is yet another NES game that I have a history with. This is a game steeped in early 90s nostalgia, you know, the days when you actually visited a friend’s place to play video games. I’m aware the game was released in the 80s, but I have memories of going to my neighbour's house to play this game, as well as a number of other NES games, in the 90s. It was never my favourite wrestling game, but it was a wrestling game, and one of only a few options that I had at the time, so it had to do. I just finished a quick session with the game, and now I’m ready to discuss its joys and cons.

Gameplay that was OK for its Time

Early wrestling games weren’t all that great, but Pro Wrestling was OK for its time. There is only one single player game mode, which is essentially a chase for the championship title. Pick your favourite character and work your way up the ranks to get an opportunity for a championship bout. Once you’ve won the title, you can stick around to defend it. After ten title defenses, you come face to face with the game’s toughest opponent, Great Puma. Getting this far is really all about perseverance, because after three or four matches, you’ve seen most of what Pro Wrestling has to offer. Regardless, here’s a rundown of how the game plays.


There are six characters with each having a similar moveset, which includes moves like the body slam, brainbuster, irish whip, clothesline, and splashes from the top rope. These moves are accomplished while pressing certain combinations of the d-pad and face buttons while in the grappling state. You grapple by simply walking into your opponent. Higher powered moves like the brainbuster can be countered, so you should save them for a weakened opponent. Outside of grapples, you can also strike your opponent. Striking can get you out of a jam, but they aren’t as useful as grapple moves. Of course, you’ll also be able to perform running attacks, as well. There is no special move, however, each character has their own signature move, often replacing one of the standard moves. These moves include a flipping dropkick, outlaw choke, headbutt, etc. You can even throw your opponent outside of the ring and do a running dive, if you dare.

A Lack of Variety Holds the Game Back

One big disappointment is that the game doesn’t have any ground moves, so submissions are out of the question. It’s also worth mentioning that the ref will not count until they’ve reached where you’ve pinned your opponent, which actually gives your opponent time to kick out. This surprisingly real element can be frustrating as matches have a five minute time limit, so you’ll be racing against the clock to win your match. The lack of variety also makes the game boring quickly. Overall, everything gameplay wise works well enough, but the game obviously can’t be compared to what wrestling games would later become.

Pro Wrestling’s Biggest Strength is its Personality

For an early NES wrestling title with no big pro wrestling stars, the game was popular during its era, and still has cult status today. The roster here is actually pretty iconic with favourites such as The Amazon, Star Man, and of course, the game’s final boss, Great Puma. Every character has their own unique look, but there’s also referee, a cameraman and even ringside announcers, so the graphics are quite interesting. There is also a 2-player mode, which is great if you have a friend that wants to check out Pro Wrestling with you. The soundtrack isn’t strong, but I still believe the game is worth checking out for its other aspects.

Conclusion

Pro Wrestling is a Nintendo developed wrestling title that makes it a curiosity because of that fact. It’s also a classic for lifelong wrestling fans like myself. However, the game won’t appeal to everybody, and it’s easy to see how the lack of variety in gameplay holds the title back. It isn’t the strongest wrestling game on the NES, but it has a ton of personality to make up for that. Perhaps Nintendo will see the potential in a Pro Wrestling reboot? In the meantime, check it out if you have the Nintendo Switch Online service. Regardless, you’re better off finding a way to play No Mercy.

Final Score: +1

P.S. A winner is you!

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