Monday, April 27, 2009

Champion Wrestler

Taito - 1990 - Japan

Whenever possible I try to avoid reviewing games I haven't fully completed, but I'll make exceptions in certain cases. Today's exception is Champion Wrestler from Taito.

CW is a port of an arcade game of the same name, one that I had never heard of prior to acquiring the game for my Duo. To be honest, the details surrounding how I actually got this game are foggy. It's certainly not something I sought out on purpose; I'm pretty sure this was one of those "good buddy freebies" your chums like to throw in when you're buying a bunch of other shit off them. You know the type. More often than not, these freebies are worthless, awful games that you'll never play (hence the reason they were given away for free in the first place). Unfortunately, Champion Wrestler is no exception.

Wrestler plays out like any WWE match would-- hit your opponent over the head with chairs, perform ridiculous acrobatics in hopes a stray limb might incur damage on your enemy, etc. The problem with Wrestler is that the control scheme fucking BLOWS. I mean, it's horrible. Atrocious. I cannot really convey in writing how terrible the "concept" behind CW's controls is. It would probably be more accurate to say that Wrestler just doesn't have a control scheme. CW takes button mashing to a new extreme. Because that's all you can do, and hope that you are fruitful in whittling away your enemy's health before yours diminishes. You have a "power" graph at the top of the screen that increases as you rapidly waggle your joystick from left to right, all the while attempting to position yourself (still waggling) so that you can inflict damage on the opposition. If somehow you manage to maneuver into a spot where damage might be an option, it then is your job to start mashing the I and II buttons and hope you pull something off. So you can see the problem here-- there are no cool button combo "moves" to memorize, no strategy in defeating your nemesis, essentially no amount of "skill" is going to benefit you in this game. I don't know about you, but I find this simply unacceptable.

From the title screen, you can select a game mode-- 1P vs CPU, 1P vs 2P, and a couple other modes. Having been outsmarted in my attempts to sucker a friend to play this still-moist-and-steaming pile with me, I resigned to go it solo in the 1P vs CPU mode. You have a choice of 8 different characters to play with, including Taito's own "M. Rastan" from the Rastan Saga series. I suppose it doesn't really matter WHO you pick, but I seemed to have the most luck with "B. Machine".

When a game fails so utterly and completely in the gameplay department, it doesn't really matter how good the aesthetics or any other aspect of the game are. That's a sad truth, because visually the game actually doesn't look half bad. In true Taito form, graphics utilize lots of colors and it's clear not much had to be sacrificed in the arcade to console porting process. I didn't encounter a whole lot of variety in the arena in my handful of runs with CW, but that's not completely unexpected. Music is adequate, if not somewhat good. Again-- what a shame.

At the end of the day, I have to wonder how much Champion Wrestler retailed for when it was new. And I also have to wonder how many kids went out and paid full sticker price for it, and what their reactions were upon getting home and powering it up for the first time. Shit, I got it for FREE and I feel like I got ripped off.

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