'Fire Pro Wrestling' brings arena to life

Professional wrestling doesn’t translate into video games as well as you’d think. Despite the colorful characters, simple yet effective storytelling, and fast and furious action, something always gets lost in translation as developers attempt a wrestling game.

Some, like the WWE 2K series, get the atmosphere but fail to create a fun gameplay experience. Older titles such as WCW vs. The World on PlayStation 1 provide satisfying wrestling mechanics but lack any of the showmanship that makes pro wrestling the soap opera that it is.

Meanwhile, a new wave of mobile games from WWE showcase beloved wrestlers such as John Cena, Sasha Banks, and the Undertaker in all their glory, but shirk any attempt at making an authentic wrestling experience.

What’s a wrestling fan to do? Few games have managed to strike the correct balance of fun and fantasy that properly represents the in-ring product, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t games based on the product of Professional wrestling that are worth your time.

For one of the best, turn to PC gaming and the newest iteration in a long-running and beloved Japanese franchise, Fire Pro Wrestling. Released in open access earlier this year, Fire Pro Wrestling World is the newest entry in a series that dates to 1989 on the PC Engine system.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of Fire Pro; a majority of the games never saw the light of day in the United States. For the initiated, Fire Pro Wrestling represents some of the best timing-based wrestling mechanics, combined with an expansive create-a-wrestler feature that allows for your imagination to run wild, much in the same way that Hulkamania — and billionaire Peter Thiel — did on Gawker.

Fire Pro never includes real-life wrestlers in its games, opting to fill the rosters with off-brand versions of known performers such as Steve Austin, Stan Hansen, and Ultimate Warrior. The creation mode more than made up for a deficit in beloved wrestlers, allowing just about anyone to be made with shocking accuracy. This trend continues in Fire Pro Wrestling World, now with the added bonus of Steam Workshop support. This allows anyone in the world to upload HIS best mock-up of CM Punk, Asuka, or even Ronald McDonald for all the world to see and play.

Be careful around Ronald: He’s a biter.

The gameplay in Fire Pro comes in the form of timing-based grapples that require a player to hit an attack button at the exact moment their wrestlers lock up in a grapple. The success of your attack also depends on the strength of the button pressed, meaning that you can’t just spam your strongest moves right at the start, forcing players to build a matchup in a way similar to how actual matches have a natural start, middle, and end.

Some players might be turned off by the lack of authentic and real wrestlers, but take my word for it when I say that the best creations uploaded to the Workshop are one-to-one recreations made with excruciating detail.

If you’re a WWE fan looking for your chance to jump into John Cena’s invisible wristbands, then I don’t have much good news. As far as actual wrestling goes, the only option is the aforementioned series by 2K Games, which are some of the most soul-crushingly awful games on the market. Those in need of a World Wrestling Entertainment fix should turn their eyes to mobile, where a ton of quirky and fun games based on Vince McMahon’s creation exist, but have little to do with wrasslin’.

Made by NetherRealm Studios — the team behind Mortal Kombat — WWE Immortals is a free-to-play mobile fighting game that reimagines the WWE roster in fantastical fashion. John Cena is a literal superhero, Brock Lesnar appears as a rocky, lava-spewing monster, and Daniel Bryan is ... a guy wearing a T-shirt?

Look, they can’t all be winners.

Regardless of design, Immortals is a great use of the WWE license and comes up with a ridiculous and fun story, along with fast-paced, flinger-flicking action. After all, who hasn’t wanted to see Roman Reigns dressed up as a centurion?

For a more down-to-earth experience, WWE Champions is a puzzle game of the Bejeweled persuasion, with a healthy dose of WWE history to boot. Players acquire and level up their favorite sports entertainers through a puzzle battle system similar in manner to Marvel Puzzle Quest. In a refreshing twist, Champions is relatively up to date with the current product, and it even references favorites from the past, such as Bret Hart, Paul Orndorff, and Rocky Maivia.

I’m kidding. Rocky was never a favorite of anyone.

Champions is fun, but the microtransactions wear you down faster than Sting’s scorpion deathlock. How long you stick with the game will entirely depend on how well you tolerate being told that a $99 pack of in-game currency is the best, most popular deal.

There’s a wrestling game out there for everyone, whether you’re a once-in-a-while fan or a true believer in the art of Professional wrestling. As for me, I’ll continue creating and inserting myself into wrestling games in a futile attempt to live out my childhood dream of being punched repeatedly by a dude that is three times my size.

Reach for the stars, kids.

Contact William Harrison at [email protected] or on Twitter @DoubleUHarrison.

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Source : http://www.toledoblade.com/A-E/2017/11/21/Fire-Pro-Wrestling-brings-arena-to-life.html

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