Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!

#112 – Tecmo World Wrestling

Wrestling with my first Tecmo sports game!

Basic title screen, but great title theme!

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 1/5/19 – 1/13/19
Difficulty: 7/10
My Difficulty: 7/10
My Video: Tecmo World Wrestling Longplay

Today we have another NES wrestling game. I am surprised at how many of them are on the system. There are four WWF games and a smattering of others, even a first party Nintendo title. I know that Tecmo Bowl and Super Tecmo Bowl are highly regarded football games and Tecmo makes good games in general. That alone made me hopeful that Tecmo World Wrestling would be a solid entry. Let’s see how it fared.

Tecmo World Wrestling was released in Japan, North America, and Europe. The initial version was on the Famicom. In Japan it was named Gekitou Pro Wrestling!! Toukon Densetsu and was released in September 1989. The NES version came out in April 1990 and the PAL release was in November 1990. The game was developed and published by Tecmo in all regions.

There isn’t much story to go along with this game. You are competing in a tournament to become the champion of Tecmo World Wrestling and win the title. The matches feature a live announcer, Tom Talker, who will provide commentary throughout the game. There are ten wrestlers to choose from, each with special techniques that not all other wrestlers use. Win matches against all the other competitors to win the game.

Choose your wrestler from this instructional pamphlet.

At the title screen, you select between single-player or two player mode. Multiplayer only has one-on-one matches where each opponent chooses a wrestler. Choosing single player mode presents you with a booklet featuring two wrestlers per page. Press either A or B to flip pages to view two more wrestlers. There are ten wrestlers in the game: Akira Dragon, El Tigre, Pat Gordon, Rex Beat, Jackie Lee, Boris Chekov, Mark Rose, Julio Falcon, Randy Gomez, and Dr. Guildo. First find the page of the wrestler you want. Then move the star cursor to either the left or right page with the D-pad. Press Start to choose that wrestler. After selection, choose your name. The wrestler’s current nickname is the pre-provided value. Use the D-pad to move the cursor around, press A to choose a letter, and press B to go back a letter. Finally, press Start to play.

Before your first match, you get to do muscle training to get stronger. You also do this after every loss. You can choose between squats, sit-ups, and push-ups. Each choice seems to be the same, just with different animations. This is a button-mashing mini-game where you press A as fast as you can for 10 seconds. You’ll see the workout animation along with the timer, power level, and push meter. The push meter is what fills up as you mash the A button and once it’s filled up all the way you will add a notch to your power meter. You begin at Power 0 but can go all the way up to Power 7. The power meter determines how powerful your moves are when fighting an opponent.

First, let’s cover some basic ground rules. The object is to knock your opponent down and pin him to a three-count to win the match. You can also win by submission by forcing your opponent to give up. Matches are seven minutes long and are considered a draw if there is no winner after time. Wrestlers fighting outside the ring begin a twenty-count and lose by disqualification if one is still outside the ring after the count. If both wrestlers reach the twenty-count, the match is considered a draw. There is also a five-count and associated disqualification for climbing and hanging out on top of the turnbuckle.

Wrestling with commentary just like on TV.

Matches are shown in a split screen view. The top half contains all the action in the ring. The screen can contain the whole width of the ring but slides over a little to show the outside of the ring on either side if one of the wrestlers gets thrown out. The bottom half contains the status bar. You see the match timer and stamina meters of each wrestler. Two player mode also features what is called a biometer underneath the timer. It changes between red for player one and blue for player two. Whichever color is more full on the meter means that player will have better power and defense for a time. At the bottom is the running commentary by announcer Tom Talker. He clues you in on what moves are being performed and makes the matches more entertaining.

I have not yet played Pro Wrestling, but thanks to this article at Hardcore Gaming 101, I have learned that the control scheme between the two games are similar. You can move freely around the ring with the D-pad. Double tap either Left or Right to run in that direction. You can bounce along the ropes until you press the opposite direction to stop. Press Up when in the corner of the ring to climb on the turnbuckle and press Down to get back down. If your opponent is outside the ring, you can walk into the ropes to go down on the floor with him. Move toward the ring to go back inside from the floor. To pin a downed opponent, press B while standing next to him. Mash the A and B buttons to break out of a pin. You can also clinch an opponent simply by walking up to him.

There are a surprising number of attacking moves in the game. You can do basic strikes by pressing A or B. You can do two different attacks with A and B while running. You can do a jumping attack off the turnbuckle. You can also attack an opponent while he is laying on the ground. Most of the moves are done from clinching with the opponent. Simply pressing Left or Right will throw your opponent toward the ropes. The other wrestler is also trying to do a move during the clinch, so I found you have to mash the button to get your move in hopefully. The A and B buttons do different moves, and there are also different moves when combined with a D-pad direction. So there is an Up and A move, a Down and A move, a Left or Right (toward the opponent) and A move, as well as moves swapping in the B button.

Training sure looks intense!

Wrestlers also have special moves. These are moves that replace default moves and only apply to certain wrestlers. For example, the normal Left+A move while clinching is the Back Drop. Akira Dragon and Jackie Lee will do a German Suplex instead, while El Tigre and Mark Rose do the Northern Right Suplex. (That particular move is a mistranslation and should actually be the Northern Lights Suplex.) Furthermore, most of these special moves only are used when the wrestler is low on stamina and the common, default moves are used with higher stamina. It’s all very complicated and the manual is really important in detailing what moves you have available. I think the high/low stamina moves make the matches more interesting as the stronger, more exciting moves will occur toward the end of the contest.

Tecmo World Wrestling features what the manual calls Zoom Mode. These are cutscenes that occur whenever a wrestler does one of his signature moves against an opponent with little or no stamina remaining. They are just like what you see when scoring a touchdown in Tecmo Bowl. These scenes flow freely during the match, replacing the action briefly while leaving the bottom half of the screen with the timer and commentary intact. They are very well animated and neat to look at. I think they serve as a nice little break from the action but do get repetitive after a while.

In the single-player mode, you will match up against each other wrestler in order. Each win advances you to the next wrestler. Losing a match or a draw puts you back to the previous wrestler instead of a rematch. You are forced to put on a big winning streak to make progress in the game, and of course each wrestler gets more difficult the farther you go. Being able to do some training and increasing the power meter after each setback helps you do more damage in subsequent matches, plus you can keep playing and continuing for as long as you want. After winning against all nine wrestlers, there is one more wrestler remaining known as the Blue Mask. He was disqualified from preliminary matches in the competition, but he is the strongest wrestler in the game with all the best moves.

Detailed cutscenes provide a break in the action.

This was my first time playing Tecmo World Wrestling, as will be the case with all other wrestling games on the NES. I was surprised to find out that this game is really cheap online. It should only cost around $5 and is probably cheaper bundled with other games. I’ve had an extra copy or two through all my game buying, but it doesn’t seem quite as common as the pricing would normally indicate.

A good way I would describe this game is exhausting. It’s not on the level of Super Team Games, but it wears my forearms and fingers out for sure. The controls are complex enough so that there is some nuance to the action, but ultimately most of the time is spent button mashing. The obvious button mashing occurs during the training. It is very easy to go up one power level during training and very hard to go up two levels at once. My button mashing technique is to lock my arm and vibrate it to rapidly tap the button. I can keep that up for the ten seconds but usually I fell one notch short of that second power level. In the matches, later ones especially, I reserved that technique for when I needed to pull off a well-timed move or kick out of a pin with no stamina left. This game can be beaten quickly, but lose a few matches and all of a sudden it takes a while to complete. It really wore me out, and losses were demoralizing.

My completed run of the game on my longplay video is bad. I think it’s one of my worst videos. I was able to beat the game one time before when I wasn’t recording and just chipping away a couple matches at a time over a day. The next time I played, I set up the recording and got all the way up to the Blue Mask but failed over a few tries before calling it quits for the night. After a day of rest, I got up early in the morning on a Sunday and grinded out a win. It took me two hours to finish the game. I reached the Blue Mask about four or five times and each match progressively got better. It shouldn’t have been that way since I know I got more tired as I played, plus my power meter dipped down to level 4 at one point and I was too tired to possibly upgrade twice per attempt. I had to take a ten-minute break near the end of the game and didn’t bother editing it out as I feel the resting is part of the experience. My family was waking up and I was running out of time for playing, but I managed to beat the Blue Mask by disqualification with a perfectly timed pile driver on the outside. Any way I can get a win in a game like this, I will take it.

The Blue Mask won’t fall easy.

My wrestler of choice was Dr. Guildo and I had a decent strategy to progress in the game. I picked Dr. Guildo simply because he was the only US wrestler and I get a kick out of representing my country in games like this. Plus, he’s the biggest wrestler and looks pretty cool. I highly abused his Giant Swing move. Knock the opponent down any way you can, and press toward the opponent and B when he is on the ground to grab him by the legs and swing him around. This move often throws the opponent directly out of the ring. At about half stamina or less, he would lay down long enough to do an attack from the top of the turnbuckle to the floor, which does some of the highest damage I found in the game. The Giant Swing is a sure thing when you can get your opponent down, but it causes issues with trying to pin your opponent with him usually getting thrown out of the ring where he can’t be pinned. Once I get the opponent with almost no stamina, I would do some kind of knockdown move, do an elbow drop or two while knocked down, and go for the pin. Often that was enough to win though the later opponents were more likely to kick out.

This is a challenging game, but I have a theory on how it works so that I decided to reduce its difficulty rating a little bit. This is just a theory based on my own experience and may not be accurate at all. I get the feeling that this game intentionally gets easier the longer you play and that it also uses the two-player biometer in the background so that the opponent ends up stringing a bunch of moves against you no matter how well you are playing. My first match with Blue Mask in my video I got destroyed, even with a full power meter. After several other attempts that got a little better each time, I dominated that final match. While out of stamina, Blue Mask then got into a stretch where I could not do anything against him. At that point I’m sure I was working off a bit of adrenaline that could have increased my finger speed. I was not at max power since it decays the more you lose and I couldn’t build it back up. With a partial power level and general fatigue, it doesn’t make sense to me that I could hit every move at the start of the match and then not be able to do anything productive at all for a time. In my mind the dynamic balancing has to be intentional. Just keep playing and grinding. This game would benefit greatly if it had passwords. As it turns out, the Japanese version does have a password system that was removed for the US and PAL releases. Maybe the difficulty does slide down as some sort of counter measure. I’m getting into conspiracy theory territory now, so I better quit while I’m ahead.

Tecmo made another great game with Tecmo World Wrestling. This is an early contender for best NES wrestling game. The graphics are excellent with great animation and detail. I’m particularly fond of the text font. The cutscenes do get repetitive, but they look great and I welcome the small break to rest up for the rest of the match. The music is equally excellent. The title screen theme doesn’t usually get heard the whole way through and that’s a shame. It’s not so much underrated as it is under heard. The controls, while complex, are responsive. The least impressive part of the game is in the gameplay loop. Matches tend to get repetitive and for me it devolved into both explicit and implicit button mashing. I suppose that just comes with the territory and I will have to live with that, but it wore on me and got me more irritable the longer I had to play. The presentation is right and the gameplay at its core is solid, so for a wrestling game you can’t go wrong with Tecmo World Wrestling.

#112 – Tecmo World Wrestling

Posted In: Finished

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