Super Firepro Wrestling X Premium
Even the name beats anything we've got in the States...
Developer: Human Entertainment Publisher: Human Entertainment Genre: Wrestling Players: 1-4 (um, not on the emulator, though) ESRB: Everyone(?) Difficulty: Adjustable (but still hard at first)
Curse you, Japan! Your food is better, your games faster to come out, your style of animation cooler, your women more attractive, your people more educated, and finally, your wrestlers have a higher workrate than anybody we've got over here! And if it weren't for the newfangled wonders of emulation, we wouldn't get this spectacular wrestling game, either! That's it, I'm moving next week...
Super Firepro Wrestling X Premium is the last installment of the Firepro Wrestling series for the Super Famicon. To make a long story short, Firepro Wrestling in Japan is to wrestling games what Mario was to platform games--the standard what other games are judged by. When compared to the games we have in the states (namely, the Acclaim series), SFPWXP makes me wanna Jim Bustaa my copy of WWF Attitude through a stack of tables. Even though it's 16 bit, and was made 4 FRICKIN' YEARS AGO, it STILL holds its own against anything in the market today. ECW Hardcore Revolution gets squashed by SFPWXP's great animation and controls, and WWF Smackdown's lousy Create a Wrestler feature pales in comparison to SFPWXP's. Wrestlemania 2000, so far, is the only game on the market that matches SFPWXP's all-round swankness--but it needed 48 more bits and 4 years to do it.
Gameplay-- "KICK! FLY! SUBMISSION! SUPLEX!"......the UNBEREIVABRE introduction not only says that, but if you look for a deeper meaning, you'll see that the game is saying, in stereotypical Japanese Engrish: "In Your Face Baka! Ha! Ha! Ha! ^_^". It beats WM 2000's "TOUGH 'n SEXY!" intro, at least.
But since there's no category for intros, I'll just get to the gameplay now.
To the non-wrestling fan, Firepro Wrestling X Premium plays like their stereotypical view on wrestling, only with simpler graphics: Two guys slap the spum out of each other for 5 minutes, then one gets on top of the other for three seconds to win. Of course, if you actually start playing the game, you'll see that, hot daiym, there's a load o' stuff that you can do! You can knock your opponent over the top rope, make your opponent bloody by whipping him into the guardrail, beat him down in the corner, grab the ropes after getting Irish Whipped, spit fire and mist, bump the ref, heck, I even pulled off a plancha onto a guy who was in the middle of vertical suplexing someone, causing a trainwreck on the outside (well, the game doesn't really have train wreck spots, but it was cool to see three guys down at the same time)! There aren't any life bars in this game; instead, the opponent's health is measured by how hard they're breathing! Izzat cool or what?
The game plays pretty easily...that is, after you've mastered the seemingly impossible tie up system (more on that later). After you've gotten past that, the game becomes much easier, and you'll start finding out about all the magical happy things included in the game. There's options for a tag team, handicap, and a four man battle royal, TONS of wrestlers to choose from, and an amazing Edit Wrestler mode (more on that later, too). The pace of the matches can be fast like a cruiserweight match, or slow and (as Christopher Robin Zimmerman himself would say) "deliberate", like a heavyweight match. Unlike the competition, SFPWXP doesn't let you pull off big damage moves like the Powerbomb right off the bat...you gotta wear the opponent down with weaker attacks (like the Chop) first. Otherwise, the computer will counter the big move all the time--just like a real match. None of these 40 second "matches" that we see in other games...nope...
Graphics--Toss that blocky 3D animation in the corner, and feast your eyes on these beautiful 2D sprites! Well...okay, maybe 3D DOES look better (after, however, the horrible motion capturing of the Acclaim games), but all the same, this is some pretty gosh damn good animation. Each wrestler, while small, has some nice detail on them (including...FACIAL EXPRESSIONS~!), and will even wear the "crimson mask" if hit with enough Rough moves (like Headbutts).
Hate to be cheesy, but SPEAKING OF WHICH, the moves are another part of the game that made it worthwhile for me! Each one, from the Elbow Pat to the Dragon Screw to the Orange Crush, looks great. And a big part of how great a move looks in the game (like in real-life wrestling) is how the opponent reacts, or "sells" it. For example, in the Hammer Blow, the opponent's face gets the sweat slapped off of it as their head snaps back from the punch. In the Western Lariat, the opponent's body flips over backwards from the impact of the clothesline. In the Screwdriver, they fall upside down from a suplex position, head literally BOUNCING off the mat. Part of the reason I watch wrestling anyway is to see all dem cool moves that are pulled off, and this game had them in spades.......... Uh, do people still say that?
Music--Well, it's a Japanese game, so you can expect lots of h3LL4 c00L guitar riffs and ditties that play over and over again...in the bleepy, blippy way that only a 16 bit game can. Some are pretty good, and compliment the action, but after a whlie, they get repetitive and annoying, and you'll just want to hear an MP3 instead :)
The SOUND EFFECTS, however...kick some serious arse. Everything--a slap (which sounds almost exactly like the real thing, BTW), slam to the mat, "WHOOOSH!" of someone off the top rope, or "PFFFT!" of somebody spitting poison fog--sounds great, and adds a punch to whatever's going on at the time. There're barely any voices in the game (no commentary...but hey, that gotten repetitive, anyway), but hey, there's no need for it. The sparse amount of voices that are in the game sound like a Japanese guy with his mouth full, so I guess less is more in this case.
Control--Simple as can be. You've got your standard kick, punch, and run buttons, as well as the taunt, and a button that pulls off a stronger standing attack (like a dropkick). Climbing the turnbuckle, rolling into the ring, springboarding and slingshotting back out of it can all be accomplished with one button...and hitting a move off the top rope is even easier. Each of the four buttons on the controller...er, keyboard, stands for a different attack when you're up top--no mashing two buttons together in here like in the Acclaim games. My only minor gripe about the controls is that it's a little frusterating to get big spinny kicky moves like the Solebutt or the Kneel Kick to hit correctly.
Well...that, and the INSANELY difficult tie up system. Right off the boot, you'll be losing every tie up imaginable to the ruthless AI. Time after time, you'll walk into him, saying "THIS is gonna be the one..." and tie up...only to get a clubbin' blow to your back by the opponent. And if you don't find out how to pull off moves before you get really POed, then you probably won't wanna play the game again, which is a big ol' mistake. Fortunately, I'm here to tell you that:
"To tie up, just press the Y, B, or A (for a light, medium, or big move) buttons RIGHT WHEN THE HANDS MEET! That's all! Same thing for Back Grapples! Presto! Bang-bang! Whee!"
Now, if you wanna learn everything about the game, just read the FAQ at Firewrestling.com. Don't ask me :)
Fun Factor--Super Firepro Wrestling X Premium is one of the most fun wrestling games I've ever played. Just about all the little touches in wrestling have made it to the 2D ring (well, except for weapons), and gameplay-wise, it makes for fluid, fun wrestling action. The moves, like I said before, are one of the best parts of the game, and beating your opponent down with one after another of your favorites, then pinning him with a flippy floppy top rope move is a blast. The game gets boring... but only if you play it too much in one sitting, which, for me, happens with every game anyway.
Finally, the Edit Wrestler mode is the best thing since I figured out how to do a moonsault in real life. You get to tweak around the colors of pre-existing costumes in the game, choose boots, kneepads and tights, and swap heads to make a wrestler that fits right into the rest of the roster (something that the fantasy wrestlers you could create in Acclaim games just weren't able to do, due to the lame costumes available). You're able to select each and every move that your wrestler has from one of the largest movelists I've ever seen, set their skills, choose their fighting style, and even set up every aspect of their CPU Logic! The appearence is just a little limited--since you can't make an individual shirt and pants combo if you want to have WWF stars in the game--but that's just a minor gripe.
Overall Satisfaction-- It's great to know that a 2D game made four years ago can still hold its own next to the fancy-shmancy games that say "d00dz c#3ck 0uT t#353 k3vvL 3D 6R4p#1x d00dz". No, of course it's not perfect--due to a Championship mode that basically throws you into 80+ frickin' matches back to back, and if you want the oh-so-thpecial Triple Crown, you gotta play another 50 or so matches--but it's definetely worth a play if you're a mark, a smart, a smark, or just one of the WWF "sheep" fans. Why those crazy Japanese didn't import this one to the States is beyond me.
Random American Guy: Yo, we need this tight game! You don't think 'bout nuthin' but yourself, bo!
SHAMELESS PLUG: I made my own SRAM data file, with just about all the stars from the WWF (along with some ECW and *shudder* WCW foo's) made to perfection! Download the game, along with that data (and, um, a readme)...here!