Tony Wilkins looks back on one of his childhood games to see how well it plays as a retro game
I must have been around 8-9 years old when I got my hands on “Pro Wrestling”. I remember being handed the box by my father and looking at the illustration on the front thinking That guy has ripped his own head off and is carrying it around. What kind of game is this? The cover illustration is strange to say the least. Why the one guy has no head I will never know. Now I have never been a big fan of wrestling such as the WWE (or WWF as it was back then) but that never mattered as this was inspired by more traditional wrestling like that which was popular here in the UK during the late 1970s/early 1980s and remains popular in Mexico today. It was one of my favorite games on the Master System because it was one that was often taken out when friends came over so as to take advantage of the two player mode. Over time, like many of my Master System games, I forgot about it as I moved on to newer consoles and games. Recently however I read a review by Thebandit2006 and it rekindled those memories so I decided to seek it out and see how well it played today as a vintage game.
Let’s just get something out of the way; this game will not blow your mind in any way. Even for the Sega Master System it looks rather bland and unoriginal. The nostalgia of being at the menu screen again after around 20 years was intoxicating but it quickly gave way to the frustrations of the controls of this game. Firstly you have to choose from four tag teams with the aim being to defeat the other three over the course of three tournaments. The choice of teams is purely aesthetic as there is no stats or strength bars to differentiate them.
Once the game begins you are thrust in to the ring to defeat your opponents. You have two main attacks; kick and punch. There are additional moves that can be used under specific conditions such as when you hurl your opponent across the ring but really these will be your primary means of bringing down that health bar. The trouble is getting those attacks to land is awkward because of the slow reaction your character has and who gets the first hit is very biased towards the CPU opponent who seems to be able to hit you at will. Worse still is when you do get hit you are frozen momentarily and often when you recover you are immediately hit again until you are knocked down. I found myself therefore hitting the kick/punch button just before the opponent was where he would be when the kick landed (like in shooting games where you fire just ahead of a moving target to hit it). Once I had mastered this I had several rounds where I defeated my opponent without taking a hit but as the number of rounds go on per tournament they do get tougher (shouldn’t they get more tired?) using high speed body attacks that are annoyingly impossible to dodge or repel.
On the whole it is not a great game despite my fond memories of it and it is clear it was an early development for the console. It does play more like some of the older Atari games I have played and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but for the Master System and NES it does look dated but you can have a lot of fun with it. Sometimes you need a simple game. That’s one of the appeals of retrogaming.