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An 8-bit Extravaganza!

#123 – WWF Wrestlemania Challenge

The next in the series both added and removed challenge.

This is very detailed for the NES.

To Beat: Win the eight-man tournament
Played: 5/2/19 – 5/3/19
Difficulty: 4/10
My Difficulty: 4/10
My Video: WWF Wrestlemania Challenge Longplay

I seem to have hit a steady stream of NES wrestling games. It took almost 100 games to get to the first one, and now I seem to get one every 10-20 games. I am pretty sure this pace won’t keep up and that this will be the last NES wrestling game for a while. I guess I’ll have to wait and see! This was the easiest one of the genre I’ve played so far, which is something I’m always grateful for. Let’s take a look.

WWF Wrestlemania Challenge was developed by Rare and published by LJN. It was released on the NES only in November 1990. The game also saw a PAL release in 1991. This is the second of four WWF Wrestlemania games on the NES. This game, like the first, was developed by Rare. However, different developers would work on the other two games.

There is no story to this game. This is just a good old fashioned wrestling game between several characters featuring several different modes of play. The primary mode is the single-player eight-man tournament. The wrestlers you will face in this mode, in order, are Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, Ravishing Rick Rude, Big Boss Man, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Andre the Giant, “Macho King” Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Ultimate Warrior. When I say you will face them, I do mean you. You will play the role of the wrestler You, taking on each opponent one at a time. It’s too bad that there’s no customization at all, so the role of You is just a generic white guy. Anyway, if you defeat all wrestlers in all matches, you win the tournament and beat the game.

You are the hero this time.

The controls are more simplified in this version of the game. Use the D-pad to walk around in all eight directions. The ring is oriented like a diamond here so there will be quite a bit of diagonal movement. The A button is used for basic strikes. Tap the A button to do a punch. Press and hold the A button to do a secondary move, such as a kick or headbutt. The B button performs a stronger move. The move depends on which direction the opponent is facing. If you are facing each other, B does a bodyslam. If you approach the opponent from behind, then B does a different move. Most wrestlers have a power move that is performed by pressing both A and B together. This can burn your energy faster, so don’t overdo it. If the opponent is laying on the mat, you can press A to attack. You can also press B here to do a pin, but you have to be lined up with the bottom of the fallen opponent to pin. The different moves will vary depending on the wrestler, but these are the basic controls for all moves.

You have some other move options as well. You can climb up on the turnbuckle in any ring corner by walking up to the turnbuckle and pressing A and B together as you press against it. Once you climb up, you can do an attack by pressing A. While airborne, use the D-pad to aim your attack. You can leave the ring the same way you climb on the turnbuckle by walking into the ropes and pressing A and B together. Be careful not to stay out of the ring past the countout or you will be disqualified. You can dodge an opponent’s power move by pressing both A and B together. If you are being pinned or are caught in a submission move, toggle between Left and Right on the D-pad to break out of it.

To win the match, you will have to pay attention to the energy meters of each wrestler. They are displayed on either side of the ring apron, which I think is a nice touch. Each successful move decreases the opponent’s energy meter. Using power moves will deduct a small amount of energy for each attempt. Avoiding attacks for awhile will also slowly increase your energy. To pin your opponent successfully, you have to run him almost completely out of energy. I believe you can force your opponent into submission with certain moves when low on health, but I didn’t see that happen.

Get his energy low, then pin. It’s that simple!

That’s about it for the core gameplay, but there are some different modes to choose from. One is the tag team match. You can control two wrestlers one at a time against a pair of opponents. Here you can switch between the two by going all the way into your corner of the ring and pressing Select. Each wrestler has a separate health meter and the man in reserve slowly gains stamina while inactive. Tag team matches are won when one of the wrestlers in the opposing tag team is pinned or disqualified. It is possible for teammates to both be in the ring together, but one of the two is subject to a countout if he doesn’t return to his corner. There are a couple of special controls here that occur when on top of the turnbuckle. If you are on the turnbuckle of the opposing team, you can kick the opposing, inactive wrestler by pressing B. Similarly, you can attack your own inactive teammate from the turnbuckle by pressing both A and B together. Another similar mode to the tag team match is the Survivor Series. There are two teams of three wrestlers each with only one active at a time. You can tag other teammates into the match. This time, each wrestler must be eliminated from the match individually. When all wrestlers on one team are eliminated, the other team wins.

There are quite a few variations between these different modes. They are broken down in the menu by either One player vs. Computer, Player vs. Player, or Two Players vs. Computer. There are four single player modes. The eight-man tournament is the main mode but you can also play a single exhibition match, you can control both members of a tag team in a match, and you can form a team in a Survivor Series. For two players competitively, you can engage in a one-on-one match, a tag team match, or a Survivor Series. There is only one two-player cooperative mode which is a tag team tournament against four computer-controlled tag teams.

Sometimes you get hit by a super move, that’s life!

You do get an ending screen for each mode. The text varies depending on what kind of match you won. In a way, you could consider any of them an ending, but most people would agree that winning what amounts to a single player campaign is the real criteria for beating the game. To that end, the game makes it a bit easier in this mode by giving you a couple of continues if you lose a match. You get an instant rematch should you lose, but if you lose three matches then you have to start all over.

This was my first time playing WWF Wrestlemania Challenge. This is a game I pulled off the bottom of my list that I wasn’t originally going to play so soon. I don’t recall when I picked this game up. The WWF games were reasonably popular, but only the first game is the one that is most commonly found. Still, I don’t think WWF Wrestlemania Challenge is too tough to track down. It should be easy to find for around $5-$10.

I didn’t have too much trouble with this game, beating it on my third attempt. I figured out somewhat of an exploit on this game. I wasn’t able to do this every time, but it was consistent enough to beat the game. I noticed the opponents either actively chase you or run away from you. If they run away, go get them! I would hit them with my B button move and then slam them when on the mat. If they come after me, I would retreat to either the top or bottom corner. Once in the corner, face toward the oncoming wrestler and mash the B button. It’s something about that corner where the opponent doesn’t line up with you soon enough to attack and you can get your move in first. The opponent then runs away and you repeat the cycle until you pin him with less than one health bar left. Using that method, I beat the game without using any continues pretty quickly.

A corner strategy worked out well for me.

As an aside, this game provides a turning point for my master game list for this project. I’ve mentioned my master list setup a few times but I’ll recap here. I initially removed a large chunk of games from my randomized game list and placed them at the very end. Lots of sports games, these wrestling games, and others were handled this way. About a year into the project I had a change of heart and decided to pull some of those games forward periodically. I’ve been aggressively promoting games lately and I have reached the inflection point where if I keep this pace up, I will have all those back-of-the-list games finished way earlier than the rest. Also, it has been troublesome and time-consuming managing what amounts to two lists. Finally, I have reconsolidated. Those less-desirable games have been spread out through the rest of the list and will appear more organically instead of me deciding on a whim to play one. I am now pleased with the structure of the overall game list, while still managing, for the most part, to keep the remaining games and their order a big secret even from myself.

Back to WWF Wrestlemania Challenge, I think this is a pretty decent wrestling game. It’s not quite as good as Tecmo World Wrestling, but it’s easier to play and much less demanding on my forearm strength and trigger finger. There are several different wrestlers with many modes and variations on game play, including a few different multiplayer modes. Controls are simple for a wrestling game and don’t require memorizing different moves. You still have to remember a lot of controls, but it comes easy in my experience. The graphics are nicely drawn and animated, and the music is decent as well. It is a touch on the easy side, but that is okay with me. It doesn’t quite live up to the name of WWF Wrestlemania Challenge in the difficulty department. That’s really the only complaint I have from this otherwise solid game.

#123 – WWF Wrestlemania Challenge

Posted In: Finished
  1. J Allred

    So, you may have already covered this, but I’m curious as to how much outside help if any you’ve decided to utilize for this project, as far as strategy, hints, etc., I ask because I wouldn’t even attempt without some sort of lifeline in place, knowing how brutal many of these titles are. I remember you writing about your dislike of some graphic adventure-style games due to their tendency to include ridiculously random object puzzles that would never be solved if not for hints. I, myself, remember calling Nintendo gameplay counselors more than once to finish Shadowgate back in the day…

    • arnpoly

      Great question! This is something I have mellowed out on now that I’m getting older. I’m not so afraid anymore of looking online for small hints if I’ve been stuck on something for a bit. I have had to do that a few times for this project so far and I disclose it in my reviews when I do. My preference is to figure things out completely on my own, but I understand that really isn’t feasible in all cases. I tend to have a bad habit of misreading some situations in games or just not seeing something obvious and then hints really go a long way.

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