Legends of Wrestling II
I can't say that the Legends of Wrestling series has made a particularly strong impression on me. In both the original and in its sequel, I had strong negative attitudes about its gameplay style, and found it's coverage of classic wrestlers to be the only really good point that the game had to offer. This time, Legends of Wrestling II is launching on every major platform, including the diminutive but powerful Gameboy Advance. With the GBA being every bit as cool as the Super Nintendo of days past, I knew exactly what to hope for from this game. That finally, we'd have a fun, but little, wrestling title.
From first impressions, I'd say that this version of Legends of Wrestling has beaten some of the problems suffered by the larger, more complex versions. It uses the same control scheme, with wild button mashing, interspersed with precise button press triggered reversals. Somehow, slimming down the controls for the GBA has made it a better system, possibly because you don't need to be quite so accurate to pull off a reversal, or perhaps because you won't need to smash the living crap out of your GBA to recover from a staggering punch. All in all, the gameplay is much better than I expected.
Visually speaking, it's a GBA title, so there's only so much that you can do. The game does a good job portraying each wrestler in all their muscle-bound glory, with an abundant roster, and good quality backgrounds; it isn't a poor sight on the eyes, by any rate. Aurally, well, there's only so much a GBA can do, but it isn't annoying at all, which is a good thing.
All in all, think of this as a miniature version of Legends of Wrestling II. There are a few less wrestlers, and less complexity in the moves, but this title more than makes up with it by refining the Legends of Wrestling control scheme into a more manageable form. Definitely worth the purchase for any wrestling fan.
For those fans that have been following 'professional wrestling'? for decades, having a chance to see wrestling stars from the late '70's and '80's can be nostalgic at the least. Having the ability to control characters like George 'The Animal'? Steal and Iron Sheik can increase the game's appeal. One of the main problems to overcome however is that younger wrestling fans that don't recognize most of these past wrestlers may have difficulty identifying with them over some of the more recent wrestling games. A great game however would be able to overcome these types of issues, but unfortunately Legends of Wrestling II doesn't achieve this for a number of reasons.
Legends of Wrestling II does have an assortment of gameplay modes to choose from. This includes a career mode that will follow a simple and fairly uninspiring story line, cage matches, and 8-man elimination bouts. You'll also have the opportunity to select from over 65 wrestlers ensuring a favorite wrestler will probably be included. The problem is that even though the multiple wrestlers and gameplay modes look good on paper, a few serious issues arise with their execution and reduce the desired effect of increasing the game's replay value.
As you might guess, one of these issues revolves around the control of the wrestlers. For whatever reason, the responsiveness of the controls seemed to be in question. Generally it takes longer then necessary for the wrestler to perform the move you're trying to execute and causes frustration especially when the match is close.
Another problem that may be a bigger issue than the mushy controls is a lack of dynamic gameplay. What happens is after you get a few matches under your belt, you'll notice the matches becoming more alike. The same handful of moves are used over and over and playing for any period of time will become tedious.
The graphics and audio also don't help much either but at least isn't overly distracting. The wrestlers for instance, look reasonable and clearly resemble their counterparts, but the crowds in the arenas leave much to be desired, with little attempts to make them even marginally realistic.
It's hard to recommend Legends of Wrestling II to anybody but those who want to revisit these wrestlers for nostalgic reasons. Although there are multiple gameplay modes that create the potential for significant replay, the overall game suffers in a number of areas that reduces its appeal significantly.
Legends of Wrestling II isn't just the latest, greatest, hottest new wrestling game from Acclaim, developed to push the Xbox to it's extreme limits, it's also the only wrestling game I've ever encountered where you can play Andy Kaufman, the inter-gender wrestling champion. However, that won't save Legends of Wrestling II from its shortcomings, which are great and mighty in their scale.
While an improvement over it's smaller, weaker predecessor, the gameplay that damaged the first title is still present in this sequel. A strange combo system, with a timed button press to represent move reversals is paired with controller mashing button press situations, such as the furious hammering needed to get up from a particularly dizzying blow. Even still, it does perform much more smoothly, and quickly than the first game.
Featuring a better lineup of venerable and classic wrestlers, I was a lot happier with this title than I was expecting. Unlocking Andy Kaufman was enjoyable, and seemed totally appropriate given his long-time rivalry with Jerry Lawler. Graphically, while not as good as some of the newer Xbox sports titles, Legends of Wrestling II definitely took a step in the right direction. For one thing, the characters aren't just slightly larger or smaller versions of the same action-figure model.
My first impression was that Legends of Wrestling II wasn't worth playing given its poor gameplay. Although it cleans up its name by featuring a boatload of old classic fighters (including Andre the Giant'every classic wrestler game must have Andre, or it isn't good, no question), this game still isn't powerful enough for me to praise it. Acclaim would've been better off going back to the drawing board on this one.
As the back of the Legends of Wrestling II DVD case says, 'The Mania is Back.'? I found this to be true in several respects. First of all there are at least a couple dozen wrestlers that span many years of wrestling action available to you when you start the game and even more to unlock later.
Still thirsty for more? Create your own wrestler with a very in-depth character creation utility that lets you customize virtually all aspects of how your wrestler looks down to hair style, skin templates for individual body parts, and each individual item of clothing they wear. There are several types of matches available to you including a standard 2-player Vs., 3- and 4-Way Dance, Cage, Ladder (meaning they use a real ladder), various tag team matches, and the Battle Royal where you can take up to 30 wrestlers at a time! You can play exhibitions and start a career if you like. Whichever match you choose, the gameplay and controls are manic also. Depending on your situation (i.e. grappling, jumping from a turnbuckle, etc.) the control set changes on the fly. As you can imagine, it's difficult to learn all these controls but if you manage you'll get to watch some sweet moves.
The graphics are pretty decent and the wrestlers that I recognized seemed to have a great likeness to their real-life models. Like a real wrestling match of recent years there is lots of flash and flair with the wrestlers' entrances as well as during the match itself. The sounds are perfect for a game of this type. Just watch some WWF and you'll know what to expect.
This is a game for a true wrestling fan. Since I am not a wrestling fan at all I really couldn't appreciate some of the finer points of this game including video interviews with some of the real wrestlers themselves or setting up the stats of a user-defined wrestler or the in-depth controls. I also think if I were a wresting fan that I could give the Fun rating a solid 4 instead of a 3, but I'm not so I can't. If you've been a wrestling fan anytime within the last 20 years or so then you may want to take a look at this game, even if it is just a rental. I probably wouldn't recommend this game to anyone else though.