Format reviewed: Nintendo 64
Publisher: Asmik Ace Entertainment
Developer: Asmik Ace Entertainment/AKI Corporation
Submitted by: Steven Ronald Jackson
The Nintendo 64 revolutionised (and near perfected) gaming in various genres. 3D platforming with Super Mario 64, first person shooters with Goldeneye, adventure games with Ocarina of Time, the list goes on, but one obscure genre which the N64 perfected is pro-wrestling games. Not before and not since have any wrestling games come close to the wrestling games on the N64. Why? Because they are as perfect a simulation of pro-wrestling you will find anywhere. And of the AKI/AAE wrestling games to be released, Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 (simply VPW2 for this review), isn’t only the best N64 wrestling game, but is possibly the greatest wrestling game ever and I’m going to explain why. Even TNA wrestler AJ Styles said it is the greatest wrestling game ever made, high praise indeed.
The first great thing about VPW2 is the gameplay. Now while it is very similar to the WCW and WWF games, there are a variety of differences. For one, the game doesn’t have any real gimmick matches. So don’t expect to see a ladder or cage match here. Instead to make up for this, the wrestlers move-sets are much bigger including many moves only in Puroresu (Japanese Wrestling). And aswell as this the game incorporates MMA fighting mechanics with shoot fights, moves and submissions meaning its basically two games in one, a Pro-Wrestling game and MMA game and both modes play brilliantly.
The second thing about VPW2 what’s great is the roster. It is HUGE. Unlike their WCW and WWF games, VPW2 showcases a variety of japanese wrestling companies and stars, along with japanese wrestling legends to create one of the deepest and biggest rosters in wrestling games history. The roster is well over 80 wrestlers strong (all with four alternative attires) and includes Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Hayabusa, Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, The Great Muta and Great Sasuke aswell as American legends The Funks, Vader (pictured above), Stan Hansen and Terry Gordy, meaning a vast array of dream matches can be made into reality. And aswell as housing pro-wrestlers, VPW2 also incoporates ‘shoot’ and MMA fighters from PRIDE FC, BattlARTS, Pancrase and Fighting Network RINGS (with the option to add 16 of your own created wrestlers and fighers). A nice touch with the roster is wrestlers have their name announced by the announcer (not all wrestlers have individual announced names but it’s a novel touch which adds to the realism).
AKI/AAE wrestling games are also well-known for their brilliant customisation options and VPW2 is no exception. The customisation options are huge, allowing detailed create-a-wrestler, aswell as a detailed and innovative mask editing feature, and a huge selection of moves to choose from, meaning creating your favoute grapplers is no trouble at all. Along with this create-a-belt can also be played around with meaning you can create your own wrestling titles.
As good as this game is it does have some slight drawbacks. Firstly, unless you are fluent in Japanese you may struggle with the menus quite a bit. Secondly, if you are a big pro-wrestling fan (like me) you will know who most of the roster is. However, if you are not, you may feel out of your depth and prefer the comfort of the familiar WWF and WCW rosters. Also, if (like me) you are a fan of wrestling action as opposed to gimmicks and entertainment, you won’t find much of that here stressing me to tell you to choose (or stick with) the WCW/WWF AKI/AAE games. Finally, this game was only released in Japan so to play it you will need either a Japanese N64 or Passport Plus III to play it. It’s such a shame it wasn’t released worldwide because it has only got predominently japanese acclaim, as opposed to the worldwide acclaim it deserves.
Nevertheless, Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 is the pinnocle of pro-wrestling games. nicknamed, the 3D Fire Pro Wrestling, it is dream game for any hardcore wrestling fan. That doesn’t mean to say it can’t be appreciated by more casual pro-wrestling fans but you may struggle with the roster and pace of the gameplay. However, if you want to experience this brilliant grappler, get yourself a N64 Passport Plus III or Japanese N64 and let battle commence.