Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canon Video Game Review: WCW Nitro (Play Station)

Over the years, I have amassed a pretty decent video game collection. Sure, I don't have like 1,000 games or anything, but it's a healthy amount. Most of the games I get, I don't really remember off hand where I got them or when I got them, but I do remember how I (or really, my brother and I) got WCW Nitro for the PlayStation. It was a Sunday a few weeks into 1998. I think it may have been the first Sunday of February, but I'm not totally sure. Anyway, we were going to get it on the Saturday before, since we were lead to believe that was the release date, but the EB Games in the Anderson Mall wouldn't sell it until Sunday unless you had a pre-order, and they were the only place that we knew had the game. So, we had to wait until Sunday, and the store wouldn't open until noon. So my dad took my brother and I up to the mall. The store wasn't open when we got there, but there were a few guys waiting outside the store. We waited for a few minutes, no more than 10 minutes, until the store was open and we were able to buy the game. My brother and I went home. played it for a few hours until we got tired of it, and that was that. The next day at school, me and my friends spent pretty much the entire health class doing nothing but talking about the game, comparing notes and so on. I believe my friend Sonny even brought the game with him. I don't remember why, but I'm sure he had a good reason.

So, since I remember getting this game so fondly, you would think that this must be one heck of a game. That couldn't be farther from the truth. This game sucked wicked hardcore. There were a limited amount of modes to play, and the roster was somewhat limited, so there was only so much you could do with the game. Add to that the bad gameplay, bad graphics, and limited moveset of each wrestler and well, let's just say we got tired of it rather quickly. After a few weeks, if I wanted to play a wrestling game, I would just skip Nitro and go back to the superior WCW vs. the World instead.

Since I needed something to review, however, I decided it might be a good idea to play WCW Nitro once again and see just how bad it is. I admit, I put off this task for the better part of two weeks, but over the weekend I finally got the nerve to put in Nitro and play it until I could no longer stand it. That did not take long, but I think I played enough of it to get the essence, the experience if you will, of play WCW Nitro.

When you turn on the game, a video intro of WCW action is played. That is the best part of the game, not because it's a particularly good video, but at least it's something that doesn't completely suck. Anyway, there are two types of matches you can play, singles and tag-team. That's it. Now a days, it'd be unfathomable to include just two match modes in a wrestling game, but 1998 was a simpler time folks. You can also play in a tournament, either as a singles wrestler or a tag team. In tournament mode, you play a few matches against random opponents. If you win all your matches, you become champion and a video is played. Yippie! The most memorable part about WCW Nitro, at least to me, is the wrestler rants at the wrestler selection screen. Most of them are rather cheesy, and for some reason Hollywood Hogan sounds as if he's in an empty soda can. Since my friend SonnyBone was nice enough to upload all of them to YouTube, you can watch them all right here:

Wasn't that great? Only the 16 main characters get a rant, sparing us Sonny Oono and Santa Claus (yes Santa's a hidden character) telling us why we should select them. Plus, Eddie Guerrero and Alex Wright get two, due to their bilingual skills. Once you select your wrestler is where things start falling apart. For one, if you choose a tag match or have a wrestler interfere in a singles match, be prepared for a massive slowdown. The geniuses behind this game apparently don't know how to program for more than two wrestlers on the screen without lag. That ruins the game experience just a little bit. The graphics are less than stellar, in fact, they're pretty bad even for 1998 standards. The movements are rather choppy, the animations are awkward looking at best, and the crowd looks as if it was drawn by a dog in five minutes. Other than that, it looks great.

The sound is questionable at best. The commentary of Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan is just terrible. They both yell everything and say no more than four words at a time. They use the same phrase for each move, and since there are about 20 moves overall, they get pretty repetitive. The background music in the game is overpowering, and not very good music at that. Plus, the sounds that each move makes are bewildering. For example, someone thought it would be a good idea to chew an apple, and make that the sound of the abdominal stretch. No abdominal stretch in the history of wrestling has ever sounded like an apple being chewed, but by God, that didn't stop these geniuses.

Now let's get to the gameplay. It sucks. There's no real skill involved, as you just hit a couple of buttons and hopefully the game will reward you by letting you hit the move instead of your opponent. It doesn't matter if you hit the buttons quicker than your opponent, instead the game just decides at random whether to allow you to do the move or not. In the short time I played, there were quite a few times where I know I hit the right buttons, only nothing happened. The game is based more on luck than skill. Meanwhile, the moveset in the game is rather limited. Every wrestler gets three signature moves, and then everybody shares the same 15 moves or so. So everybody from Miss Elizabeth to The Giant can do powerbombs, bodyslams, and belly-to-belly suplexes at the same level. I particularly enjoyed Pee Wee Anderson's hurracanrana, that was something else. Moreover, the CPU's logic is rather interesting, to be kind. The CPU kept wanting to climb the turnbuckle, no matter what the situation or wrestler. The CPU also liked to play a game of cat-and-mouse, running out of the ring at frequent times and generally doing their best to stay away from you. This tends to make the game even more frustrating than it already is.

Overall, WCW Nitro is one bad game. There's hardly any reason to play it, even for nostalgic purposes, unless you want to torture yourself or something. Even when it came out, it was a bad game, and it certainly hasn't gotten any better over the last 11 years. The graphics are bad, the sound is atrocious, and the gameplay makes me want to vomit with rage. It will probably be another 10 years, at least, before I play this game again, and if I do play it again it will only serve to remind me about how bad this game is. However, I did enjoy it for the first couple of hours I played it way back when, so I guess for nostalgic purposes, I'll give the game a 2.45305 out of ten, instead of the 1.1 it probably deserves. If anybody has any ideas for future reviews or feedback on this here blog, then let me know at KtheC2001@gmail.com. To wrap things up, here's the commercial for WCW Nitro, which is just about as bad as the game.

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