Exclusive! World First! Insert lots of exclamation marks here!!!!!!
Well, exclusive in that nobody else in their right mind has actually bothered. At all. There are, at the time of writing, no other reviews of this game ANYWHERE. Read within to find out why…
(Warning: This is rather long, which is why I invoked the more tag to break it out. Some folks will care, and most won’t.)
Title: WWC – World Wrestling Championship
Format: Playstation 2
Publisher: Phoenix Games
I paid: $10
I should have paid: About $1.25, which is what they paid the developers at a guess
At last — a wrestling game for the PS2 that is undeniably worse than Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home. Although only just — and to be fair to publishers Phoenix, they’re not charging full price for the title. I paid ten bucks for it in a K-Mart sale today, down from $30, whereas the aforementioned BYW sold for $100 back in the day. Admittedly, you could probably pay that much today to pick up BYW — or, for that matter, a decent wrestling title such as one of the Smackdown! games, but sadly not an excellent title like Fire Pro Returns (PS2) or WWE No Mercy (N64) …. but I digress.
Phoenix games isn’t backwards about its mission statement — it’s Europe’s only “Super Budget” publisher. “Super Budget” in this case equating to “we’ll publish any old rubbish, and see if suckers will buy it”. Actually, a quick trawl through the Phoenix web site reveals a treasure trove of really dodgy looking titles.
- It’s just a guess, but this probably isn’t the series that runs on SBS.
- Is it just me, or are all the animals, well, fiddling with each other in this box shot?
- Then there’s this, which frankly looks like the world’s most tedious game — and that’s saying a lot.
- I’m not sure I even want to know what this one is about.
I know, I know, it does all look like sub-par Onion-style parody, but these are actual games that Phoenix would very much like you to purchase. If you’ve had a temporary dip in sanity, that is, or are severely short of funds, or buying a game for a relative when you yourself know nothing about games. Given the proliferation of cheap, kiddy-looking games on Phoenix’s Web site, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it’s the latter case they’re banking on — befuddled grandparents buying “that nice looking Cinderella game that the store had — and it was so cheap!”
But back to the well-oiled and steroid-fuelled warriors of the WWC. Let’s take a quick look at the blurb for this one before we start, shall we?
” All chaos breaks loose as the lighting dims in the arena, one spot light lights the wrestlers path to the ring. No noise, nothing, all of a sudden you hear the noise of a motorbike and the bike speeds up to the ring, another wrestler jumps of and attacks his opponent, the crowd goes wild. The referee tries to separate them in vain, and needs help to get the job done…This is going to be one dirty wrestling match…Have you got what it takes to battle it out with the Pro Wrestlers of the WWC?”
The short answer is — yes, you do, but it’s clear from the way the game plays that the developers have seen around five seconds of actual professional wrestling, and that arguably they set out to make some kind of weird boxing/UFC/MMA/Kickboxing title, but gave up as it all became too difficult, slapped a few wrestling moves into the game engine and then rushed it to market. Now, call me a classicist when it comes to my pro wrestling, but I’d always presumed there were a few things that every game had — even dogs like WCW Thunder, BYW, BYW2 or the Xbox Raw and Wrestlemania titles. Here’s a short list of what you won’t find in WWC:
- Running the ropes
- Irish Whips
- Striking a downed wrestler
- Tag matches
- A referee — although bouts are “scored” by invisible “judges”
- More than six wrestlers to choose from
- More than four wrestling moves in total
- Folding chairs
- Weapons of any kind
- Fighting outside the ring
- Climbing the turnbuckles
- Entrances, despite the box blurb
Read that last one again. And again. Let it slowly sink in. This is a pro wrestling game with no pinning AT ALL. Instead, you play through round after tedious round, seeking a technical knockout of your opponent. No other victory is possible — believe me, I’ve tried. To make matters worse, your TKO is always 100% predictable; downed enemy wrestlers (and you) always rise on the 2 count (technically the 8 count, but the game counts down from 10 the way that real referees never in fact do), except for the final knockdown, which isn’t counted at all.
To make matters even worse — admittedly a little amusing, given the so-bad-it’s-entertaining nature of the title — grapples always actually damage the opponent in the initial lockup, not the impact of the move. As such, if you’re just about to go for a grapple on an opponent with low energy, you’ll grab at them.. and they’ll fall down, having taken the damage from the move despite not taking the actual move. Things get wackier when the frankly bizarre collision detection comes into play; about 1/10th of the time grapples will connect with air, but your wrestler will go through with a motion anyway, suplexing thin air. While you’re busy doing this, by the way, your opponent can’t actually hit you. Neither are they inclined to attack you when your back is turned — although they can strike you, and again it’s here where the suspicion that this was a more general sports fighting title rears its ugly little head, as there’s far more striking motions in the game than there are grapples. Amusingly, the game’s main kicking animation goes straight for your opponent’s private parts; the more puerile among you may get some amusement at defeating an opponent simply by smashing them repeatedly in the wedding veggies. Of course, I’m made of more mature stuff, and only did that as a service to my readers. Ahem.
The game’s assortment of six pudgy characters include an odd amalgam of the WWF’s Papa Shango and Alex from a Clockwork Orange. That’s right – a Voodoo priest in a bowler hat. Inspired lunacy, really. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, however, as all of them have the same four moves, which work from the PS2’s L1/L2/R1/R2 button set. For what it’s worth, the game is PS3 compatible. Yeehaw. The four moves on offer are an overhead suplex, a very shoddy drop spinebuster, a combo clothesline/judo takedown (rather similar to Kanyon’s Flatliner, if anyone remembers that move) and in one inspired move in the game, the Ganso bomb. For those not familiar with the Ganso bomb, it’s perhaps the single most dangerous 1 on 1 move in wrestling, largely because it’s just dropping someone directly onto their skull. Here’s a YouTube video that explains the concept — and why you could in fact kill someone with it — far better than words ever could.
Got it? Well, I was stunned to see the Ganso bomb in the game, but not quite so stunned as when, having applied it, my opponent hopped up as though nothing had happened. In wrestling terms, he no-sold the most dangerous move anyone could do. Over, and over again. But — bearing in mind my previous comments about when grapple damage applies — just grabbing him when his energy was low is enough to KO him. Wacky.
WWC doesn’t offer much in the way of game modes, either — there’s a single player challenge ladder that doesn’t always tally your wins properly, which can leave you stranded fighting the same generic clones over and over again . There’s a two player option. And, well, that’s it.
Special mention must go to WWC’s audio track, which redefines “generic” in every sense. Hit someone? That’ll be a generic snare drum sound? Grappling move? Bass drum — sometimes seriously out of context to the impact of the move, but that shouldn’t come as a shock by now. All of this is accentuated by some alarmingly generic sub-par techno-ish music that loops in the background until your ears bleed enough and you turn it off — presuming you’re actually still playing WWC, that is, and not doing something more entertaining, such as manually checking the cats for lice, or combing your head with a dangerously rusty axe.
So what’s actually worth merit in WWC? Well, to be fair, I do somewhat like the game’s camera, which is nicely dynamic; while the latter Smackdown games have opted for a long, TV-style camera shot which keeps everything rather static, WWC uses a more dynamic, fighting-game style camera, which initially gives the game’s moves some impact. Not much, but some. And the flaming ring apron in one of the game’s three wrestling arenas looks nice, in a cheap wrestling federation kind of way.
Critically, it was cheap, and never pretended to be anything but cheap. I spent around ninety minutes playing through it, and undoubtedly I would have switched to something (almost anything) else, but I was trapped under a sleeping child at the time, and thus unable to move to change anything. I’ve certainly spent ten bucks watching worse cinema movies — I’m looking at you, Speed 2 — and there are worse titles floating around on the various console download services right now. Still, it is something of a relief to say that I’ve finally found a wrestling game that negatively outclasses Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home. Although that in itself opens up a fresh quandary — I gave Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This At Home 0/10 — how on earth do I score WWC?