With the release of another edition of 2K Sports’ WWE video game series on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and eventually the Nintendo Switch, players and fans of the medium have been presented with another beautiful game, chock-full of amazing options and things to do, from creating logos, characters and even arenas. There’s simply an endless amount of things to do in it. Suffice to say, real wrestling game fans know that WWE 2K18 cannot hold a candle to the greatest wrestling games of all-time.
Simply put, the greatest wrestling games of all-time are all over a decade old, some over 20. In this exclusive Old School Gamer breakdown, we discuss exactly why those old gems, games the likes of Fire Pro Wrestling and AKI’s WCW and WWE games, hell, even the Def Jam Vendetta games, are and will always be, the best wrestling games of all time.
More Rewarding Gameplay: Anyone who’s played the Fire Pro Wrestling games knows the game is hard. But when you finally get good at it, it’s like everything makes sense. On the other end of the spectrum, you have an easier series of games, AKI’s WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and No Mercy, that provide the best feeling when you perform a finishing maneuver. In spite of inferior graphics and sound, even today, those game’s realized gamers needed to be satisfied during the biggest moments of a match.
Simple Controls: With one-button grapples and finishers, Fire Pro Wrestling made the wrestling genre accessible to the masses, while the AKI games made it easier to digest. While the controls of the new WWE games are far from difficult to master, the bells and whistles added to the submission system over the years, for example, take the fun out of the experience for many.
More Creative Chances Taken: Suda51’s suicide storyline in Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special is easily the coolest ending to any wrestling game. If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s a must-watch.
Make no mistake, this will never happen in another wrestling game- especially not one made by 2K Sports.
Better Multiplayer: Four players going nuts in WCW/nWo Revenge? There isn’t much better couch co-op available anywhere else. From AKI’s original WCW/nWo World Tour through WWF No Mercy, the bevy of modes and small, but intricate create-a-modes were enough to satisfy.
Variety: Best of Both Worlds: Channeling realism, attention to detail and fun factor, games the likes of AKI and Human Entertainment’s masterpieces have the type of variety that modern wrestling games can’t claim. With attention to story and imagination as well, they’re the types of creations that’ll live on forever.
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the author of the upcoming book, “The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers,” from McFarland And Company. Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games–including Deus Ex, NHLPA 93, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam–the book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.