Sunday, April 5, 2020

Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game (Sega 32X, 1995)

It's time to save this year's WrestleMania Day by covering a classic fighting game with outlandish arcade-style action. Shawn looks so hip here. When I was a kid, I saw this game and went "Who are all those guys? Where are Hogan and Macho?"

I saw the WWF New Generation as a bunch of midcarders, even when I wasn't even watching wrestling yet. Now I've got a much greater appreciation of this 1995 era of rasslin'.

Got ourselves a nice shiny 32X title screen. This system didn't do that great in the grand scheme of things and didn't last long, but it was a little more powerful than the Super NES graphically.

Your commentators for tonight's WrestleMania action: Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler!

"Where are the puppies?" says Jerry before getting up and leaving.

Shawn Michaels is the future king of the WWF, but at this point he hadn't ever won the world title yet. He's got really low attack power while being easily the fastest character out of the whole selectable roster.

They have these great renditions of the character themes in the game. At least they're recognizable.

Bret Hart is another fast character. He and Shawn are so evenly-matched that they're destined to battle forever. Or at least until 1997.

Lex Luger has a sky-high strength rating and can pretty much demolish anybody with his attacks. He's also a BIG AMERICAN BEEFY BOI.

Scott Hall is a well-rounded fighter who doesn't excel in any category. It's easy to forget that this dude is SIX FOOT SEVEN because he spent his entire career standing next to the super-tall Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. Put him next to literally anybody else and he would have dwarfed them.

DOINK. Easily the lowest-card guy out of the game's selectable characters, but I see why they included him. He has a bunch of very comical attacks, like bonking his opponent with a mallet or zapping them with a joy buzzer, and fits with this game perfectly.

Speaking of tall, here's the mighty Undertaker. He's lumbering and slow, but he can fire ghost-projectiles from his hands. That's right, this pro wrestling game takes place in the Broken Universe.

 R.I.P. Bam Bam Bigelow. Main evented WrestleMania itself in 1995, this guy did. Never won the world title though. He's a guy that nobody ever had anything bad to say about.

 Also R.I.P. Yokozuna, the big super-heel of this era. He's the slowest character in the game, but he can absorb a ton of punishment and he hits hard.

The two difficulty levels are named after title belts, which is a great idea. The IC title has fewer and easier fights. I believe some of the late-90's WWF games would do this kind of thing again, with the European Title being the easiest difficulty.

This thing has almost all of the New Generation roster's heavy hitters...and Doink. There's an odd lack of Diesel, considering he was the WWF world champion for most of 1995. You could also make an argument for Owen Hart's inclusion at this time.

Know who else would have been great in this game, if he wasn't being held hostage by WCW? Ric Flair.


Check out these digitized characters. They used similar technology to the motion-capture used in Mortal Kombat, and it really shows. Just an awesome-looking game here, the first pro wrestling game to really have wrestlers that looked spot-on to their real life counterparts. It'd be the last wrestling game with photorealistic characters for a while, too, as this was right about when the industry was shifting towards 3D for fighting games.

You can do several kinds of fights. Tag-team mode gives you a CPU-controlled ally (or second player) as CHAOS UNFOLDS. that Jesus in the front row?

I go with Bam Bam Bigelow, because I've got a wrong to put right for Bammer. The "story mode" pits you against multiple enemy fighters at a time, which turns these battles into a real brawl.

You can get uppercutted like ten feet into the air, and when someone launches you out of the ring, you soar like twenty feet.

After a few brief fights, our final match for the title is against... the team of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart? Are they both co-champion? Is one of them WWE Champion and the other is Universal Champion?


Bam Bam Bigelow wins the world title! I said I had a wrong to put right.

Michaels has an uphill climb for the title, as his final boss is...Bam Bam, Yokozuna, and Lex Luger in a 1-on-3 handicap match. If this were reality, I don't think you could have put a more unstoppable trio together in 1995 WWF. Check out Shawn's "ooh scary" taunt.

One of the great things about this game is that characters have Mortal Kombat style special moves they can break out, and they get pretty wild. Shawn attacks with a devastating overhand baseball bat swing, seen here leveling Doink.

They really got the poses in this game, I'll say that. Solid motion-capture and digitization. This game is great, can't believe it took me this long to take a look at it.

Doink's surprise joy buzzer attack is a real shock for opponents.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the Super NES and Sega 32X versions of the game. The 32X version is higher-res and has much better animation. In both versions the crowd practices social distancing. You can see Undertaker's ghost projectiles here too, as they unleash testicular punishment on Bret.

That's about it for this game. It's a great game. Definitely a classic that you can't go wrong with, especially in multiplayer.

Here's the magazine ad, which I also remember from that era. What's Bret trying to do here? Trying to sweep an arcade machine is like trying to powerbomb Kidman.


  1. The Angry InternetApril 24, 2020 at 9:00 PM

    Dunno if it's just me, but I'm getting a lot of broken images in this post and the one on the Dark Fate iOS game.

    1. Don't worry, it wasn't just you. It should be fixed now.

    2. Thanks! Have some fond memories of this one and loved reading your take.

      A strange fact about this game: the original arcade version had distinct endings for each wrestler, which weren't carried over to any of the home ports even though there were no technical obstacles to doing so (they're just text and same portraits used on the character select screen). I like to think it's because the endings were patently insane even by the standards of a game where the Undertaker can shoot ghosts.

    3. Getting definite Mortal Kombat vibes from that ending (and the whole game). This is absolutely an "if wrestling was Mortal Kombat" kind of game. It drives right off the reservation. Great stuff.

    4. The Angry InternetMay 5, 2020 at 12:07 AM

      Another strong MK echo that was left out of the home versions: the Undertaker's fatality! Supposedly there were supposed to be more, but the WWF objected and I guess this one just slipped by somehow.

      Also, if you haven't seen it yet, the making-of video with Bret is pretty great.

  2. Oh man, these themes are incredible.

    Diesel being out is weird. Owen is in some of the other games of the era at least.

    Brawls... I get it!

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