WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game
What do you get when you take Midway’s trend of digitizing Mortal Kombat actors and NBA Jam players with the sports entertainment goliath then known as the WWF?
You get Vince McMahon saying “boomshakalaka”!
And no, that isn’t a joke!
Back in the 90’s it was still a somewhat guarded secret that the WWF’s head announcer was also the owner of the company. So naturally, when Midway created a WWF arcade game, Vince’s voice was added to it.
As was the case with several series around this time, the Sega 32X ports were among the best of the bunch, as Midway fully supported the add-on to the Genesis. The added hardware power allowed for the full roster, much of the voice details and more to be fully ported from the arcade version, making for a more definitive port than what was a stripped-down Super Nintendo sibling.
The gameplay itself could be a love/hate relationship.
Make no mistake, this was an arcade game. It’s also pro wrestling, which can be called a rehearsed male soap opera at times, but this title took it over the top.
For example, when Bret “The Hitman” Hart got slammed to the canvas, cartoonish hearts spill out of his body.
The Undertaker goes full “dead man” gimmick with ghoulish apparitions and overtones.
Bam Bam Bigelow has flames as part of his repertoire and so on.
It makes for an appealing visual style but also takes away from what could’ve been a more serious wrestling game in the vein of the excellent WWF WrestleFest (or it’s lesser known cousin, WWF Superstars).
Instead we get a more “arcade” style button masher complete with cheap AI tactics.
And while I’m on my rant, why isn’t there entrance music with the wrestlers until after you win a match? That seems a bit backwards and is one small detail that really derails from this being higher on my list of favorite wrestling games.
In fact, there was no sequel made to this game to my knowledge either – maybe it wasn’t the commercial success they had hoped? Maybe it was just too wacky? Or maybe wrestling was entering a down period in the early 90’s and people lost interest?
Either way, if you’re a wrestling fan who also loved the Midway style of games during this same era, you will likely enjoy this game. If you’re a wrestling purist looking for strategy, this isn’t it.
If compared with an NFL game, WWF WrestleMania is more like NFL Blitz than John Madden Football.