One of the best, if not the best treat for wrestling fans is the release of video games based on their product and featuring their roster of wrestlers. Not only do video games allow for the fans to live out their fantasies of stepping into the squared circle but fans can have fun making the matches they always wanted and deciding who gets to wear the titles. Not only that, the video games allow for the product to stay fresh in the fans' minds if they can't watch their favorite promotion on TV or don't want to shell out over $50 for a PPV. Yet for every great game there are always one or two turds that are likely to end up in the bargain bin of your local used game store in a couple weeks. In essence the video games allow fans the opportunity to participate in a world that they would have no chance of being in otherwise.
This list is designed to look at the worst of the worst; the wrestling games that make you question why you are in fact a pro wrestling fan. These games are horrible for a variety of reasons, from bad graphics to horrible controls, to having absolutely nothing to do with actual wrestling, each are unique in their own futility. These games are an insult to wrestling fans both old and young around the world. It almost seems that these games were made by people who had no idea what fans wanted out of a wrestling game and just released a hopeful money grab out into the world.
So please read, enjoy, and let us know what you think down in the comments section. How would you have ranked these differently? Are there other games that you felt should have made the list or that one of the entries should be ranked differently?
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10 Microleague Wrestling
The first game based on the WWE was definitely a stumble, but that is mainly due in part to the limitations of gaming systems at that time. Microleague Wrestling was a turn-based strategy game where players had the choice of playing as one of two wrestlers for a given match, Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan and Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff were the two matches on the game disc but expansions were released later. With limited wrestlers and moves to choose from, the game was very limiting to wrestling fans. Thankfully, the future games made for the WWE were greatly expanded upon.
9 TNA Impact!
Let me start by saying that TNA’s only game on home consoles is not completely terrible. It had great graphics that made the wrestlers look incredibly realistic and it had a decent control scheme. Unfortunately it suffered under the weight of inconsistent AI and the fact that nearly everything in the game had to be unlocked by playing the story mode. For me it was really telling how mediocre the game was by going to a Hollywood Video that was going out of business was selling the game for a dollar, and going back a week later and the game was still there.
8 Steel Cage Challenge
Released in 1992 to the NES and Sega Master System, Steel Cage Challenge was a subpar game for WWE wrestling. Featuring 10 wrestlers, the game was very straightforward and featured one-on-one and tag matches in both a regular ring and inside a cage. Unfortunately every wrestler had the same moveset and they had no finishers, worse early nineties graphics being what they were, many of the wrestlers were indistinguishable from one another, making them blur together even more since they have identical moves.
7 Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood
Based on the cult success of the video series Best of Backyard Wrestling and a prior video game Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This at Home, Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood was released by Eidos Interactive. Unfortunately this game did not reach the success of its predecessor and was hated by critics who reviewed it stating it was just a rushed sequel that did not have many improvements from the first game. It also did not help that outside of a few ECW originals and members of the Insane Clown Posse on the roster, the game featured indie and backyard wrestlers who were not well known to a wide enough audience to sell the game.
6 WrestleMania: The Arcade Game
This was one of the WWE’s first attempts to cash in on a gaming trend that had nothing to do with wrestling. This was the WWE’s attempt to cash in on the fame of Mortal Kombat and other over the top fighting games. Here, wrestlers did not use traditional wrestling moves but rather cartoony moves like Doink the Clown shocking opponents with a hand buzzer or the Undertaker would fire ghosts at people. Worse, when a wrestler was hit, gimmicky items would fly out of their bodies like hearts from Bret Hart and carnival items from Doink.
5 ECW Hardcore Revolution
The main reason ECW’s first foray into the video game medium was because the game was basically the game, WWE's Attitude game with ECW wrestler skins put on existing character models. There were a couple of famous ECW matches that were added like barbwire matches but it was not enough to compensate for a cumbersome control scheme and the fact that at that point ECW was still a fairly niche promotion in comparison to WCW and the WWE. The follow up game Anarchy Rulez would fare a bit better, correcting past issues and making it a true ECW game.
4 WCW Mayhem
One of two wrestling games ever made by EA, WCW Mayhem was a disaster from the word go. While it was the first wrestling game to feature audio commentary, the N64 version of the game was the only version to feature both Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan, while other versions just cut out Schiavone even though Heenan addresses him directly in some instances. Other issues included not many diverse movesets for wrestlers, an outdated roster, and the create-a-wrestler system was lacking. What is worse is that there was no need for this game, but WCW decided that they did not want to share video game publisher THQ with rival WWE, so they signed with EA who had no experience making wrestling games.
3 WWE Crush Hour
Another example of the WWE trying to cash in on another video game market with action racing games in the vein of Twisted Metal and Mario Kart, called Crush Hour. The basic story of the game was that Vince McMahon somehow got control of every TV network and forced his wrestlers to compete in any show he could think up, thus a demolition derby style show called Crush Hour. The cars were meant to represent the wrestlers driving them but the gameplay was bland and a driving game really was not what fans were looking for in a WWE game. Who would've thought they'd prefer a wrestling game?
2 Royal Rumble (Dreamcast)
Only released in arcades and on the Sega Dreamcast, the WWE released Royal Rumble, with the selling factor for the game being that there could be eight characters on screen at a time. Unfortunately the game only had two game modes; exhibition and Royal Rumble. Yet the biggest issue was that the game had only a roster of 20 to 22 depending on the console, which is odd considering the Royal Rumble is a 30-man match. So during a Royal Rumble match, it was commonplace to see the same wrestler appear multiple times during the match or clones in the ring at the same time.
1 WCW Backstage Assault
A game based around the crummy idea that a wrestling game does not need an actual wrestling ring. With wrestlers left to fight in a variety of backstage areas, the gimmick got old really quick. What's even more odd was that the main gameplay mode involved fighting toward a championship, but the player could not defend the belt once they won it. It was unfortunate that this would be the last video game released by WCW before being bought out by the WWE in 2001. It had bad gameplay and a moronic gimmick, so it was really no surprise that to this day the game only sold around 200,000 copies.
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