And today Wrestle(videogame)mania reaches its conclusion. The following are lists of the Top Five WWF/WWE Videogame and the Top Five Non-WWE Videogames. Both lists are chronological. The lists are limited to one game from any given series.
Top Five WWF/WWE Videogames
-WWF Wrestlefest (1991, Technos, Coin-op) A true classic, the first WWF game with four player support, it's fast paced arcade play and huge sprites make it still a favorite of wrestling gamers today. Shame it never got a console port.
-WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game (1995, Midway, Coin-op) It's NBA Jam, but with wrestling! What more could you ask for? I still pop in the Playstation port once in a while, simply because there's never really been another game like it. Well, there was a crappy pseudo-sequel from Acclaim for consoles, but it's worse in every way.
-WWF No Mercy (2000, THQ/AKI, Nintendo 64) Coming out just a week before the next entry on the list, this game is still my favorite wrestling game of all time. The single player (two player, if you're rocking a tag team) season mode has many unique stories with branching paths for each title (including the Women's Championship). All that coupled with a flawless grappling system make it the best out there.
-WWE Day of Reckoning 2 (2005, THQ/Yuke's, Gamecube) In a game that easily surpassed that year's Smackdown entry, Yuke's really outdid themselves with a long and well told story mode. The grappling system is among the best out there, allowing for reversals of finishing moves in the right situations. The best wrestling game you can put in your Wii, despite being a GC title.
-WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 (2006, THQ/Yuke's, Playstation 2/Xbox 360) Many point to Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain as the best in the series, but this is the game that really does it for me. It introduced an analog stick-based grapple system that allowed for great customization of created wrestlers, and also allowed weight class to play heavily (e.g. Light Heavyweight Shawn Michaels cannot slam Super Heavyweight Big Show) and had plenty of season mode storylines to go around for your superstar, depending on which show you were on. A real winner, and both common and cheap nowadays. (Disclosure: I have not yet played SvR2010, though I've heard great things.)
Top Five Non-WWE Wrestling Videogames
-Pro Wrestling (1987, Nintendo R&D3, Nintendo Entertainment System) Maybe it's the nostalgia talking, but this game is still great. The characters are well developed, the movesets are huge for the time, they actually put a ref in the ring... it's got everything. Though a turbo controller is highly recommended for maximum enjoyment.
-Three Count Bout (1993, SNK, Neo-Geo) In general, I'd say avoid this game if you see it in an MVS. However, if you can adjust the difficulty down just a bit, this game is great. Huge sprites, totally different movesets for each wrestler, different match types (street fights, electrified rope death matches, etc.) all make this a classic. Of course, I do mark out for SNK, so maybe I'm a little biased.
-All-Japan Pro Wrestling: Giant Gram 2000 (2000, Sega, Dreamcast) An arcade game at heart, this game's unique grappling system that relies on timing-based combos to unleash hard-hitting moves is a must for any wrestling fan with a DC. I only recently was able to check this one out, and I'm hooked!
-King of Colosseum II (2004, Spike, Playstation 2) This game is the best non-WWE 3D wrestling game. It contains a grappling system so deep, it's near impossible to explain here, but suffice it to explain that the time you spend learning it is time well spent. It also is officially licensed by all of Japan's big promotions, which allows for the kind of dream matches not seen in US wrestling games.
-Fire Pro Wrestling Returns (2007, Agetec/Spike, Playstation 2) This game is the end-all, be-all of wrestling games. Only overshadowed by No Mercy for it's extensive single player mode, Fire Pro Returns' gameplay, grappling system, and near endless customization options make this game THE wrestling game to beat. It's ten bucks, brand new, from Amazon right now. If you have a PS2 and even a passing interest in wresting games, it's money well spent.
Tomorrow: Wrestlemania Preview