With WWE 2k18 set for its release, we decided to check out some of the worst and best wrestling games ever. Fans may think Vince McMahon is out of touch with the people today but that just wasn’t the case in the 80s. He would be one of the first wrestling promoters to make a plunge into video games when he took a chance on funding MicroLeague Wrestling in 1987. McMahon had the foresight to see where the video game industry was heading and every year he would sink some money into developing a video game(s).
Some of those games were instant classics while others became video gamer’s worst nightmares. Judging and rating a video game is subjective but most users have the same criteria of what’s decent or not. When it comes to wrestling games, graphics, gameplay mechanics, and the fun factor are key concerns for gamers.
As we mentioned, the WWE has had a lot of swings and misses when it comes to video games. They aren’t the only ones. This list covers all wrestling games that have the capability of using real-life Superstars. So don’t expect to see Def Jam Vendetta and The Simpsons Wrestling on this list. Regardless of all failures, wrestling and the video game industries are booming and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
15 Best - WWF WrestleFest
Released by Technos Japan in 1991, this arcade game would become the number one destination for anyone wanting to play a wrestling game. WWF WrestleFest would be a massive upgrade over its predecessor WWF Superstars. The cartoonish graphics are aesthetically pleasing and added value to the gameplay at the time. It features a limited selection of wrestlers but had an advanced grappling and striking system compared to other arcade games.
With the ability to host four players, fans could play two modes, the Royal Rumble and a tag team gauntlet called Saturday Night’s Main Event. The game would receive such great reviews and is so memorable that in 2012, THQ decided to remake the game featuring current superstars such as John Cena, Randy Orton, and The Undertaker.
14 Worst - WWF In Your House
This video game was the sequel to WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game and it’s basically WWE’s Mortal Kombat version of games. Developed by Sculptured Software and Published by Acclaim Entertainment, this game would be released in 1996.
It’s not really a wrestling game, more of a knock-off version of Mortal Kombat and it was not received well by fans. You can play as ten wrestlers, including Bret Hart, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, and even Owen Hart. The addition of a four-player mode couldn’t stop this game from being one of the worst out there. It would also be the last time the WWE had a game that featured digitized sprites of the wrestlers.
13 Best - Virtual Pro Wrestling 2: Odo Keisho
Developed by Syn Sophia and published by Asmik Ace, this Japanese wrestling game is arguably the best in the Virtual Pro Wrestling series. With the same engine as WWF WrestleMania 2000, fans wouldn’t have a hard time getting accustomed to the game on the N64. Made for Japanese fans, the roster consisted of several promotions, including NJPW and AJPW. Wrestling legends included Bruiser Brody, Terry and Dory Funk Jr., and Andre the Giant.
The game would introduce the running grapple, which was a counter to the running strike, and many moves that were banned in America. They also had a complex grappling system developed for the mixed martial artists in the game. Don’t believe us on how great the game is? Just ask A.J. Styles, it’s his favorite wrestling game of all time.
12 Worst - Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home
This video game is exactly what the backyard wrestling product is, terrible. No offense to all you wrestlers out there that perform in the backyard of some house or facility, but let’s be honest, you would rather be in a sweet venue where the lights can shine on your work. Developed by Paradox Development and published by Eidos Interactive, this game would be released in 2003 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
The biggest feature of the game was the hardcore elements and ability to use anything to finish off your appoint. Most of the roster comes from The Best of Backyard Wrestling Vol. 1 & 2 series but ECW’s Sabu is the biggest name on the list. Surprisingly, even with the horrible reviews, there was a sequel which was equally as bad.
11 Best - WWE 2K14
It’s been an up and down love affair with 2k and WWE video games. For all its faults, WWE 2k14 is still one of the best wrestling games out there. If it wasn’t for the 30 years of WrestleMania features in the video game, this title might not even be on the list. Developed by Yuke’s and Visual Concepts, 2K Sports would release the game in 2013.
Although the AI wasn’t great, the game was an improvement from its predecessors due to 2K Sports getting involved. The near fall system was improved, chain reversals were quicker, and catapult finishers could be used offensively. One other great feature is The Streak mode, which focuses on The Undertaker’s WrestleMania career. It’s also the first WWE game to feature up to 100 created Superstar slots, which made a lot of fans happy.
10 Worst - WWF European Rampage Tour
WWF European Rampage Tour has a very nice ring to it but that’s about it. Developed by Arc Developers and published by Ocean Software, this game would be released in 1992 for Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and PC. After the success of WWF WrestleMania in 1991, the company decided to market a game for Europe.
Users got to pick a team between Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, and The Ultimate Warrior. That team would then face The Nasty Boys, The Natural Disasters, Money Inc. and The Legion of Doom. All wrestlers had basic attacks and there was no special finishers. Fans can use weapons but the pace of the game is a bummer, not to mention the gameplay mechanics didn’t “wow” anyone then or now.
9 Best - WCW/nWo Revenge
Eric Bischoff and Ted Turner almost won the Monday Night Wars and they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for some meddling kids in WWE. Bischoff created the notorious stable, nWo, and wanted to make them a larger than life spectacle. WCW/nWo Revenge would be born out of nWoMania. Developed by Asmik Ace Entertainment and AKI Corporation, THQ would publish and release this video game in 1998.
For a wrestling game in 1998, it blew the competition out of the water. According to IGN, it was the best-selling wrestling game for the N64 console. The grappling system would become the centerpiece for the game’s success. Simple to understand and the variety of moves didn’t make the action stale, this game is a classic all should play.
8 Worst - WCW: The Main Event
This work of art would be one of the few WCW games for Game Boy. Released in 1994, Beam Software would develop the game while NA: FCI published it. With just two types of matches available, a set number of falls and a set time limit, the game limited the user’s experience. Considered repetitive, the only bright spot was a special move that came with each wrestler.
Maybe we lied, the other bright spot is watching Tom Zenk make gammon steaks for the WCW locker room as a mini-game. You could play as Sting, Vader, Rick Rude, and even Steve Austin but that wasn’t enough for fans to give positive reviews. From the sound effects, to the gameplay mechanics, to visuals, everything stunk when playing this game.
7 Best - TEW 2016
What in the world is TEW? Total Extreme Wrestling is a text-based simulator that makes you the booker of your very own wrestling promotion. So don’t be confused, you won’t see actual wrestling, but if you love text-based simulators than this game is the one for you. Developed by Grey Dog Software and created by Adam Ryland, this game is the latest installment in the series. Ryland has been involved in text simulators since 1995 and this release really shows how great he is at his craft.
The game pits you against other promotions fighting for the number one ranking in the world. You think a promotion with hardcore elements is the way to go, you can do it. If you think a blend of luchador and technical wrestling is what the fans want, no one is stopping you. The user can control everything from their promotion. That includes the referees, announcers, authority figure, types of matches, titles, events, scheduling and so much more. Although you start out with fictitious characters, you can easily download specific eras and your favorite wrestlers.
6 Worst - WWF Betrayal
Game Boy used to be the hottest handheld video game device around but thanks to technology, that’s no longer the case. In 2001, WayForward Technologies would develop this game that was published by THQ. It would be the last WWE video game released by Game Boy Color and focused on a 1999 storyline involving the kidnapping of Stephanie McMahon.....
You could only play as The Rock, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, or The Undertaker. The mechanics were clunky and the gameplay consisted of several side-scrolling levels. The beat ‘em up style just didn’t sit well with customers and the reviews spoke for themselves. No wonder it would be the last WWE game released on the Game Boy Color because it was a betrayal to video game fans.
5 Best - Fire Pro Wrestling World
Sometimes less is more and that’s the case when it comes to one of the freshest wrestling video games on the market, Fire Pro Wrestling World. Developed by Spike Chunsoft and released in July, this gem is currently only available on PC but will be making its PlayStation 4 debut later this year. As the latest installment in the Fire Pro Wrestling series, the game sticks to its roots as being simplistic but entertaining at the same time.
The game starts off with fictitious characters, however, the vibrant online community has created a ton of mods featuring all of your favorite wrestlers, both current and from the past. You can customize your own wrestler, ring, and title. There are a variety of matches to choose from, such as a steel cage contest or barbed wire and landmine deathmatch. The icing on the cake is the online multiplayer mode, a first for this series.
4 Worst - WCW Backstage Assault
WCW would hit a home run with WCW/nWo Revenge in 1998 but failed horribly with this one in 2000. The game would be developed by Kodiak Interactive and published by Electronic Arts for both PlayStation and Nintendo 64. It would be the final WCW video game released before WWE would buy out the company. Most content provided by the WCW in 2000 was terrible and this game is proof of it.
The main feature was gameplay would be outside of a standard wrestling ring. The move backfired horribly for the creators and it allegedly just sold 200,000 copies. Gameplay was repetitive and a regression in graphics would be its ultimate downfall. Surprisingly, GameZone would actually give it a great review, however, the consensus agrees this was one poorly developed game.
3 Best - WWE SmackDown! Here Comes The Pain
Developed by Yuke’s and published by THQ, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes The Pain would be released in 2003 for PlayStation 2. As the sequel to WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, the game had big shoes to fill. Compared to its predecessor, the game features a more intricate grappling system, accurate character scales, and the debut of the Elimination Chamber and Bra and Panties match in a wrestling game.
With over 50 active wrestlers at the time and more legends than you can count on your hand, this game was very hard to put down. It would help revolutionize wrestling games with the improved gameplay mechanics and had a nice blend of technical elements with fast-paced action. Don’t take our word on how great the game is, Metacritic, a website that aggregates reviews, gave this game an 85/100.
2 WWF King of the Ring
In 1993, the WWE decided to make the King of the Ring a Pay-Per-View event. They had the right idea because everyone loves wrestling tournaments but we’re not here to judge the event itself. We’re here to judge the video game that was supposed to help make the event more special. Developed by Gray Matter Inc. and Eastridge Technology, LJN would publish this terrible game for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy in 1993.
The characters look nothing like the wrestlers and the mechanics are choppy to say the least. There are no signature moves and the moveset was as basic as it comes. Although they put on emphasis on tournaments, the game also featured tag team competition. If there was a tournament to decide the best wrestling video games, this one wouldn’t even make the qualifying round.
1 Best - WWF No Mercy
You know a video game is great when you still want to play it 17 years later. WWF No Mercy was released in 2000 for Nintendo 64. Developed by Asmik Ace Entertainment and AKI Corporation, the game received extremely positive reviews across all video game publications. Published by THQ, you can argue it’s the best video game they ever been attached to.
What made this game beloved by so many fans was the vast options in the Create-a-Wrestler mode. Compared to other wrestling games at the time, users would become extremely happy because they were overwhelmed with the countless options when creating a character. This game also introduced for the first time to fighting backstage and performing moves on the announcer’s table. The icing on the cake would be the story-mode option that offered different storylines based on the outcome of matches.