Saturday, 3 October 2015

SNES Game Review 97: WWF Royal Rumble

Well this is going to be my second WWF based SNES review (WWF the former name of what is now known as the WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment). So WWF Royal Rumble was a multiplatform wrestling video game based on the World Wrestling Federation it was the sequel to Super Wrestlemania which I have already reviewed. It was once again made by Sculptured Software Inc and released by the infamous LJN who other than mentioning just now I won’t really be talking about as it is ground I have touched before, but basically this game is made and developed by the same people who did the last entry in the series.

It was released for both the Super NES and Sega Megadrive. Like its predecessor but in this case the Megadrive version hit about 3 months later, once again despite being pretty much the same game it was decided that they would give the games different roster’s, I am not sure if this was maybe because they thought it might inspire some people to buy both or because of changes in the WWF and in who was important at the time, after all 3 months could be a long time back then with wrestlers moving to WCW or mid-carders moving up in to more main event status. Either way the two versions share seven wrestlers: Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Randy Savage, Crush, and Lex Luger. Then each version has 5 exclusive wrestlers. On the SNES people got to play with Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect, Ted DiBiase, Yokozuna and Tatanka. Whereas on the Megadrive/Genesis there was Hulk Hogan, IRS, Jim Duggan, The Model and Papa Shango. Who got the better deal kind of depends upon how much you value the individuals involved. I like the fact that the SNES version got Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect, Ted DiBiase as they were all excellent heel characters but I have to admit if they were removed I wouldn’t really miss either Yokozuna or Tatanka. As for the megadrive version well it’s kind of cool to see Hulk Hogan and Jim Duggan as strong hero types from that period, and I also have a lot of respect for The Model so it’s nice to see him in a game. The strange thing is that IRS and Million Dollar man found themselves on oppersit sides of the format.

Yes once again I am here pointing out that old wrestling games didn’t have the large amount of wrestlers we are used to receiving in a modern game so again the same question I asked before about Super Wrestlemania can be asked. If they were going to do the work on all those characters why split them between platforms but this could be due to all sorts of things such as the size of cartridge they were trying to fit it on or again offering unique reasons for people to buy it on more than one format.

So with this only coming out a year later than Super Wrestlemania lets stop worrying about format differences and look at what was done to improve the game over its previous entry, was anything changed or was it just a quick cash grab? Well while WWF Royal Rumble still has the old bang/tap the buttons on your pad like crazy with the faster person winning grappling style this time they added an on screen meter to show how it was going. As small as this sounds I think this was a great little addition, you could now see if you were going to win or lose a grapple and it would make you try that bit harder. Steel chairs could now be found outside the ring and used which as small as it might sound at the time was a cool addition. Also after knocking the referee unconscious, the player can now use illegal tactics such as choking to get the advantage. In the last entry in the series wrestlers could only enter the ring from the left or right side but now you can roll into the from the bottom part of the screen, meaning far less bouts being ended by count out. More moves were added to the basic move makes the game feel a bit less repetitive. It’s not a bad little list of additions even if some of them are quiet subtle.

For me the main draw of this game is in the title, basically it is the fact that there's a Royal Rumble mode. I always loved watching the royal rumble every year when I was young, thirty men enter only one man leaves the winner usually with the promise of a shot at the title at the next Wrestlemania. It wasn’t always the winner who was the coolest though, it was great watching who would eliminate the most people who would last the longest, who would be the quickest person eliminated. I could talk for hours about my favourite moments from Royal Rumbles over the years including the moment when one of the bushwhackers marched to the ring jumped in got immediately knocked out and then marched back to the dressing room without missing a beat. There are of course some amazing things about the rumble this game cannot hope to emulate. You never really knew who would run to the ring next in a royal rumble, sometimes it would even be someone you hadn’t seen wrestle in a long time, or a surprise guest but in this game it is obviously one of the 12 playable characters, and that’s the other thing it’s only a 12 person rumble not a 30. Also there is only ever a maximum of 6 people in the ring at a time. Once you hit that magic number no one else will enter until someone has been eliminated to free up a space. I can see why this happens and to some degree wrestling games still do it now. There are of course a limited number of characters the console can handle at one time without it either causing slow down or just making things far too chaotic to play. For those less versed in the way of the Royal rumble it’s basically a multi competitor event where instead of pinning opponents you eliminate them by throwing them out over the top ropes, the winner being the last man left in the ring. Personally I think this mode alone actually adds buckets more to this game than the past entry in the series. I remember as a kid playing this game again and again with my brother and I honestly think for the time it wasn’t too bad. Sure it has been surpassed now, there was the excellent Royal Rumble game on Sega’s Dreamcast and then of course pretty much every modern wrestling game has a rumble/battle royal mode now but at the time this was a really neat little addition.

The graphics are pretty decent for the time, and the wrestlers although some of them don’t look quite right, Yokozuna for example does not look anywhere near big enough in comparison to other wrestlers. The important thing though is that you can tell people apart and you never get confused about who is who so the graphics are at the least highly functional. The Sound is average, all of the expected wrestler grunting is here with probably the best audio being the wrestler’s theme tunes which are all here in accurate midi style.

Would I recommend this game?  Well I certainly think that there are better efforts on the machine and I would probably try to push you to something like Saturday Night Slam Masters first, but I also recognise this as a big step up from its prequel, I recognise the strength of its royal rumble mode for short bursts of fun, and I recognise the effort they went to in order to improve it. I would give this game a 6 out of 10. Should you actually go out and buy it though? Well with all of the carts of it I can find hugging the £10 to £15 price range and how much this type of game has advanced I would find it hard to recommend a purchase unless you’re dying for a new SNES game. As I said before with Super Wrestlemania you would be much better served going in to a shop and looking for a modern wrestling game with at least 3 times the characters, additions we now have like create a wrestler, and online play. In fact you can walk in to somewhere like CEX and find a copy of something like Smackdown Here comes the pain, Or one of the other early PS2 WWE Wrestlers for under £3 and you would probably get a great deal more fun from them. So really that would be my recommendation in this case, although it’s certainly fun to see how much WWE/WWF games have changed and developed over the many years they have been released.

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