Wednesday, February 13, 2013
All Japan Pro Wrestling Featuring Virtua
All Japan Pro Wrestling Featuring Virtua, another standout brawler for Sega Saturn, a system legendary for its fighting games. I'm usually not a fan of wrestling video games, which usually reward button mashing over technical skill (thanks for nothing, Acclaim and THQ), but this is a very welcome surprise.
As you can see, graphics are extremely impressive, featuring 3D polygon environments, impressive shading, and detailed characters. The animation and gameplay hues closely to the Virtua Fighter series, and it feels like a natural extension of Virtua Fighter 3 and Fighters Megamix. The appearance of Jeffery and Wolf from VF is a star attraction that doesn't feel like a cheap gimmick.
Wrestlers have an impressive array of moves and holds, can perform reversals, fight outside the ring, perform different moves depending on their health, and gain support from cheering fans (that old Hulk Hogan rally). Most impressively, you can damage and fracture an opponent's bones - break too many bones, and the referee will end the match. Oof! Nice.
Everything moves smoothly, and there's a satisfying Thud and Crash when you slam your opponent to the ground. Even that static background crowd puts a smile on my face (if only the programmers could have animated that crowd a little). Yes, I know today's PS360 crowd will probably roll their eyes and yawn, but I'm impressed. There's a certain charm and satisfaction that comes from a really good-looking Saturn game.
The Sega Saturn has an almost limitless supply of "hidden gems" that continue to dazzle and impress all these years later. If you're looking for an import game, All Japan Pro Wrestling is an excellent choice. I can see this game becoming a hit at parties and get-togethers. You probably don't have to be familiar with pro wrestling or Virtua Fighter, but it probably helps a little. Pick this one up and you'll be impressed.