After going through a huge boom in the 1980s, pro wrestling hit a slump during the early-90s. Some say it was a lack of creativity, others blame the absence of new talent to replace aging superstars, while many thought the cause was lame gimmicks and storylines (the Red Rooster, anyone?). After playing WWF Super Wrestlemania, however, I’m convinced that the problem was awful licensed games giving the “sport” a bad name.
Wreslting games are one of those kinds of games that usually get a free pass from critics despite being really bad, since critics think wrestling fans are idiots. Wrestling fans prove them right by running out and buying horrible wrestling games. As long as the characters in the game kind of look like their real-life (and that’s a mind-bendingly relative term when discussing a wrestling game) counterparts, and the game doesn’t cause the console to overheat and start on fire, everyone’s happy. That’s as true now as it was back in the Genesis days.
With the Macho Man down and out, Hulk decides to do the Funky Chicken
You can tell this game is going to be a disaster right from the character select screen. There are 8 WWF Superstars to choose from, including a few big names of the era such as Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior, and the “Macho Man” Randy Savage. However, they inexplicably left out both Bret Hart and the Undertaker in order to have enough room to get Irwin R. Shyster and Papa Shango into the game. That would be like inducting Ratt and Candlebox into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame ahead of the Doors and Led Zeppelin. And though I haven’t played every fighting game ever made, I seriously have to believe that this is the only one where over 10% of the roster is made up of evil tax accountants.
In the ring, all of the wrestlers share the same assortment of about 15 moves, most of which are done by jamming on a specific button while grappling with your opponent. It’s hard enough to engage your opponent in a grapple, let alone actually win one, so it’s usually better just to mash the punch button and avoid the process all together. As a result, each match quickly degenerates into a routine of pummeling your opponent in the face until he falls down and then repeatedly stomping on his genitals. Just like the real thing!
In order to accurately portray all your favorite WWF Superstars, the game goes to great lengths to make them look and move just like their real-life counterparts. Oh no, wait, I was thinking of a good game. Sorry, it’s a defense mechanism by brain uses to sheild itself from the damage that prolonged exposure to something like this can cause. What I meant to say was that everyone in the game is the same height and body shape, so every wrestler kind of looks kind of the same except for their outfit. The crowd isn’t animated at all, and the artists made the mistake of drawing the fans frozen right in the middle of a rousing cheer, which adds a certain creepiness to the atmosphere.
Graphics: Unless your idea of pro wrestling involves two identical twins wearing Halloween costumes of their favorite wrestlers while fighting in the middle of a wax museum, these graphics aren’t very realistic.
Sound: As bad as the rest of this game is, its one redeeming feature is that it does include the entrance music for each wrestler in the game, so at least you can rock out to the Ultimate Warrior’s music on the character select screen…
Control: …before going out and trampling on the British Bulldog’s dong for 10 minutes.
Hulk dries off his neck with his new “Hulk Rules” bath towel
Final Verdict: Not only did this game finish 9th on our list, but Super Wrestlemania is actually the worst of 4 WWF licensed games to be released on the Genesis. Keep in mind that one of those other WWF games was a horrendous knock-off of Mortal Kombat with wrestlers for all the characters and Vince McMahon screaming nonsense after every move. The people at Flying Edge and Acclaim must have some kind of vendetta against us personally because, let’s face it, making a game worse than that isn’t something that happens by accident.