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VIDEO GAME REVIEW

Fire Pro Wrestling

Burning with Desire

By Chad Serrant

Staff Writer

‘Fire Pro Wrestling’

Published by Bam! Entertainment

$39.99

Fighting games are one of those genres of video games that concentrates on one of the smallest, least significant events in our lives: one-on-one battle. It is a very rare event indeed to walk down a street and be challenged to a duel. Most tournament fighting games concentrate on controller manipulation and good timing. Platform fighting games (like Super Smash Brothers) depend on using the right move at the right time. Wrestling games tend to combine both forms, allowing free movement around the ring, but still forcing you to time your attacks correctly. Fire Pro Wrestling is an excellent example of a wrestling game.

There is no story behind Fire Pro Wrestling. Your reason for fighting is to beat your opponents silly. Fire Pro Wrestling lets you wrestle the way you want to. Do you like to overpower your opponent with brute force? OK, that can be done. Do you like to move around the ring like a scared chicken, then lash out at the first sight of your opponent’s weakness? That’s fine. Fire Pro Wrestling lets you play the way you want to.

But no button mashing. The only place pressing random buttons repeatedly will get you is on the mat. Fire Pro Wrestling requires skill. When you begin a grapple with an opponent, you have to press the correct sequence first. If you try to mash buttons, you will always lose the grapple. Also, if you use heavy grappling maneuvers early in the match, you will be countered. The grapple system for this game is perfect. No longer can people win by pressing the grapple button faster than their opponent. They need skill to win.

Fire Pro Wrestling also uses fatigue to force you to use a variety of moves. If you just punch throughout a match, your character will tire out and won’t be able to move for a while. And you will tire out every time you punch. Either hold the L button to regain stamina, or use a different move. Either way, you cannot depend on one move to get you through a match. Also, your fatigue levels can change depending on whether or not you are bleeding. Too many face rakes and a woman will scream, indicating that you have bled. Your recovery rates will change at this point, to your benefit or disadvantage.

There is no WWF or WCW or (insert favorite wrestling organization here) license, so Fire Pro Wrestling simply “made up” wrestlers who “coincidentally” have similar moves to the popular wrestlers. My favorite is The Cremator. He’s tall with medium build, he wears gloves, and he likes choke holds. Also, the crowd always boos whenever he taunts. All of the imitation wrestlers look and operate exactly like their real-life counterparts, so you can unofficially set up your “dream team” of wrestling.

However, you’ll have a lot more fun in the Create-a-Wrestler mode. One word: customization. There are options to edit every single part of the wrestler’s body. There are 341 faces alone. You can also edit the colors of the costume (4096 ways for each piece of clothing, by the way). The moves your character can execute, his strengths, his weaknesses, his style of fighting -- all of these can be edited to your liking. And you can save it to one of the 77 save slots on the cartridge. Or you could trade it to another cartridge if you felt like it.

The wrestling matches you can have are also customizable. You can choose the duration of the match, where you are wrestling, and which rules are legal. You can even employ UFC rules and have a “hardcore” battle.

The graphics quality is mixed for this game. The wrestlers show an incredible amount of animation. If you’ve seen the wrestling move in real life, you will recognize it in the game. Everything else, however, is pretty static. The referee has three to four frames of animation at the most, and there is no reason to change which ring you are fighting in; they all look the same once the match begins.

The sound is worse. It sounds like it was ported from the Game Boy Color, and will remind many of the NES game, Pro Wrestling.

Make no mistake. This is an excellent game that will test you timing and moving skills, instead of relying on button mashing. And, you can finally make the fighter of your dreams.