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WWF Wrestlemania 2000 Package Art

WWF Wrestlemania 2000

Wrestling video games are never hall of fame material, but the punch and slam formula is hard to screw up, and fans' fever for the strangely addicting drama usually blinds them to any gaps in quality. I'll give you the low down on WWF Wrestlemania 2000, if you smell what Ron Price is cookin! (Forgive me, I had to say it.)

This game is designed for play on both Game Boy Color and the older Game Boy models. As usual, this means that it is a fairly decent looking game for the older units, but somewhat lackluster on GBC when compared to games designed to take advantage of the hardware. The animation is choppy and the wrestlers aren't very detailed. Kane really got the shaft in the detail department, because he is little more than a red silhouette. There is even some sprite recycling going on, with The Rock and Stone Cold sharing the exact same body sprite.

The ring and arena visuals aren't exactly terrible, but they are very monochromatic and feature no animation.

Before matches, each wrestler does his trademark walk beneath an animated titantron. I don't understand why full-motion video wasn't used for the titantron segments in the GBC version. Those of you who have read many of my reviews know that I am against the "Because we can!" approach to throwing FMV in Game Boy Color games, but considering how much wrestling fans love their games to appear as authentic as possible, the FMV actually belongs here. Oh well, nothing against the intros that Natsume has constructed on their own, because they look pretty decent considering that they are just manipulations of still shots and text. The Stone Cold intro is especially well done.

Talking about sound effects on Game Boy hardware is pointless most of the time, and Wrestlemania 2000 is no exception, so let us jump to music. There are no more than five simple tunes in the game, but I found the music during matches to be surprisingly catchy and a nice compliment to the action.

Wrestling purists will likely be saddened by the total lack of authentic WWF tracks and speech samples. I have the same problem with speech sample abuse as I do with FMV overload, but again, here is a place where it actually would have helped. Wrestling games are supposed to be about authenticity, and reading hideously edited taunts like Stone Cold's "If you want to see Steve Austin kick someone's *%*, give me a yeah!" (that is an exact quote from the game) is simply a joke compared to hearing an actual sound sample of the real man saying the real words.

The worst thing about Wrestlemania 2000's gameplay is immediately noticeable: It feels like you are wrestling inside a Jell-O mold. This game moves very, very slow. It is possible to become accustomed to it and not notice after a while, but the excitement level would have been greatly helped by faster gameplay.

Every wrestler has the same basic moves activated by the same button combinations, with an occasional variation on how a move is performed on screen. It's a shame that the play couldn't be more varied, but to the game's credit, there are an impressive number of moves. There are several different ways to toss an opponent once he is grappled and a few options for getting in that extra hit while he is down. Momentum based tactics are also in effect, and they are my personal favorite play element. There's nothing like pile-driving an opponent, running to the opposite ropes, bouncing back the way you came, and planting both feet into your opponent's back just as he is getting up. Of course, there is one special finishing move for each fighter that can only be activated once the corresponding meter is full, and these moves do major damage. Sadly, the glory that is The People's Elbow did not make it into this game... (sniff) ...but at least we get The Rock Bottom...

Wrestlemania 2000 features several play modes, the most involving of which is the trip through the ranks of the WWF. Starting at the bottom of the food chain, you must work your way through the many challenges that Vince McMahon throws at you before you are truly king of the professional wrestling hill. I found this mode to be well balanced. Just as I was getting sick of battling people one-on-one, Vinny Mac forced me into a cage match with Big Boss Man or a handy-cap match against X-Pac and Ken Shamrock. I loved beating the crap out of the ever-so-worthless X-Pac just steps away from his waiting tag.

There is also a versus mode for quick rumbles, a gauntlet option for those who think they can go through tons of wrestlers with the same energy bar, a mode based on the Survivor Series pay-per-view, and training mode that lets the player beat the tar out of a defenseless opponent...and yes, the nearly necessary game link compatibility for wrestling with friends is here!

The AI in Wrestlemania 2000 has its flaws, but you can tell Natsume made some effort to polish it. For example, the computer-controlled opponents are extremely vulnerable to running kicks. They realize when it is coming and they attempt to move, but they only manage to escape about twenty percent of the time.

As is too often the case with third-party Game Boy games, I find myself thinking that more could have been done with this game. Why not include the create-a-wrestler feature from the Nintendo 64 version of Wrestlemania 2000 and allow players to raise that wrestler's ability through special challenges? Sure, the options for customizing appearance wouldn't be too extensive, but there is no reason that Game Boy couldn't handle the leveling-up part. Developers need to learn that the Game Boy market is more than just a place to put out a product that is "good enough". There are a few select groups that actually try to produce great games for GB, and that needs to change.

See Gameplay above.

Though much of this game could have been done better, and it seems repetitive at times, I can't deny that I had some fun with it. Most of the WWF attitude has been left on the cutting room floor (see Stone Cold taunt in audio section), but WWF fans who are looking to add their favorite wrestlers to their Game Boy library will probably want to pick this one up. For anyone else, I recommend a rental.

final score 7.5/10

Staff Avatar Ron Price
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"Offbeat shenanigans rule!"

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