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Giant Gram 2000

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Released: 2000

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Dreamcast

Publisher: Sega

Developer: WOW Entertainment

It’s not easy being a wrestling nerd. The constant questioning of your intelligence (“You do know it’s not real, right?”) is one thing, but the struggle to find good stuff to watch is more troublesome. Sure, you’ll get great matches in WWE and even the smaller American companies, but you’re missing out on a lot if you don’t look at Japan – and that’s always been true. While New Japan Pro Wrestling has been dominant in recent times, All Japan Pro Wrestling was once a force to be reckoned with – and surprisingly, so were its games.

Giant Gram 2000 is the third entry in Sega’s Japan-only wrestling series, following All Japan Pro Wrestling Featuring Virtua and Giant Gram: All Japan Pro Wrestling 2. As they originated in the arcades, the games are relatively fast-paced and have control systems that are easy to grasp and, being based on Japanese wrestling, heavy on striking. What’s great about Giant Gram 2000 is the fact that as well as featuring a responsive, enjoyable fighting system, the moves look like they hurt. When someone lands a particularly damaging move, the screen will go negative with a great big clanging sound to signify injury – it’s a great touch. Better yet, the home game has some very cool extras over the arcade release, the best of which is a history mode in which you recreate classic matches in order to unlock video highlights.

While it doesn’t feature the likes of The Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin, the fanatics out there will likely recognise Vader and Dr Death Steve Williams – and even Wolf Hawkfield of Virtua Fighter shows up for a scrap. The roster is impressively large, too. It’s not got the breadth of modes or customisation options that Fire Pro Wrestling D has, but it’s otherwise comfortably competitive with the game – and that makes it one of the two best wrestling games on the system.