Developer: AKI Corporation
Submitted by: Ryan McNeilly
The Nintendo 64 is still the console of choice for wrestling fans. Ask most wrestling fans and they will tell you that “WWF No Mercy” on the N64 is the greatest wrestling game of all time. While I have many fond memories of “No Mercy”, I wasted more time on “WCW/nWo : Revenge”.
Developed by AKI (who also developed the n64 WWF games after losing the WCW license), “WCW/nWo : Revenge” was the sequel to the mildly popular “WCW/nWo World Tour”. “Revenge” was released in 1998, one year after the release of “World Tour”.
For those who don’t follow wrestling and really couldn’t give a monkey flip about it, here is a brief history. In late 1997 and 1998, pro-wrestling in general was on fire due to the real life rivalry between the WWF and WCW promotions. Every Monday night, both companies would air their shows head to head in a ratings war. When “WCW Revenge” was released, WCW was destorying WWF in the ratings. The WWF was beginning it’s huge comeback with the infamous “Attitude Era” which brought more adult content to their TV shows and made Steve Austin and The Rock household names. WCW’s main draw was the nWo, a faction made of past WWF superstars who were written into the storylines to appear as WWF invaders who wanted to destroy WCW. Wrestlers who made name for themselves in the WWF such as Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were all members of the evil nWo. The nWo became so bad that they were cool. Fans tuned into WCW to see what the nWo was going to do next, and to see if the mysterious Sting would give the nWo their inevitable upcommance.
Anyway, back to the game. As you can maybe guess, the WCW was firing on all cylinders when “Revenge” was released on the N64. As you could guess, fans would also purchase the WWF game at the time and make comparisons. WWF and Acclaim released “War Zone” for the N64 and PS1. There really was no comparison. AKI were veterans of wrestling game development who already had success in Japan with their “Virtual Pro Wrestling” series. “War Zone” felt slow and unresponsive with bad hit detection. Wrestling matches in “Revenge” always felt epic.
“Revenge” built upon the previous WCW game by adding a bigger roster, new arenas based on WCW TV shows and Pay Per Views, new moves and updated graphics. Matches could last anywhere between 5 seconds and 30 minutes (honestly, if you begin a match and nail your opponent hard with a running boot to the head or a stiff clothesline, you could knock your opponent out. This was a rare occurrence though). Every wrestler had their finishing move along with multiple ways to apply it (for example, Diamond Dallas Page could hit his “Diamond Cutter” move by standing still, launching the opponent against the ropes or from the top rope) which was innovative at the time. The wrestlers also looked good, much better than “WCW/nWo World Tour” or “WWF Warzone”. Plus, there was blood!
The roster consisted of all the big stars of WCW and the nWo. No one was left out. Names worth a mention are Hollywood Hogan, The Giant, Sting, Kevin Nash, DDP, Goldberg, Raven, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Bret Hart (who also appeared in “WWF War Zone” due to his departure from WWF during game development). All characters had 4 different outfits and color swaps. You could also edit the palettes of each wrestler.
Game modes were a little empty. The 1 player mode consisted of your superstar working up the rankings to win a title of your choice. There was no story mode which you would commonly find in wrestling games today, however it really didn’t matter. The draw of “Revenge” was how fun the matches were. The in-ring gameplay was the closest thing a fan could get to replicating a real wrestling match (if a real wrestling match even exists). The multiplayer mode was excellent when playing against friends who were good at the game. 4 player tag team matches were a riot and loads of fun.
Another nice addition to the game was a high score table which saved on the cartridge. Your match would be scored on a variety of different things, such as the diversity of moves and crowd excitement. Having an excellent half hour match and lending the game to a friend to try beat your score was fun. It also gave incentive to play more 1 player matches, doing everything you could in the ring to excite the crowd and filling the match with awesome moments.
AKI would eventually develop the WWF games for the N64 and not much of the core formula would change. Later, AKI would release “WWF WrestleMania 2000” and the now famous and much loved “WWF No Mercy”. “No Mercy” would include a story mode, Create-A-Wrestler mode and a shop amongst other new things, but that’s for another game profile.
AKI would also fund success down the road with their popular Def Jam fighting games (Def Jam : FFNY is still one of my favorite fighting games). With today’s WWE games becoming so repetitive each year, I would love for AKI to develop another wrestling game for today’s consoles. “WCW/nWo : Revenge” set the bar for great grappling fun on consoles and it is always worth going back to for the roster and nostalgia of when wrestling was at it’s peak in terms of popularity.