Given recent events in the world, I have been over the moon the last couple days. We’re getting closer and closer to the day that The Big Trump Fundraiser known as WWE finally dies. It’s about fucking time. A company that built its fortune off of broken bodies, and a mountain of people who died too young. A company run by white supremacists and sexual predators. I have been given a few lectures that I shouldn’t be happy about this, because of all the fond memories people have and the smiles that WWE put on their faces. My response to that is: I don’t fucking care. I was a WCW kid growing up, and I am All Elite as an adult. I should be more understanding for the nostalgia over miscarriage storylines, Triple H’s “black people don’t deserve to be world champion” feud with Booker T, all the storylines involving rape and simulated necrophilia, or that time Owen Hart fell to his death due to gross negligence and Vince McMahon forced his horrified friends and co-workers to go out and wrestle around his dead body. Now, while WCW was by no means a perfect company; it was infamously imperfect, I still loved it and it should have won the Monday Night War. As far as I’m concerned, this is revenge.
The above paragraph was meant to be a killer segue into a write up of WCW/NWO Revenge for Nintendo 64, which is among the greatest wrestling games ever made. Problem is, for reasons I cannot figure out, there is not a single N64 emulator out there that will actually save any screenshots of the game. I can take screenshots of any other N64 game, but the moment I do it for Revenge, either the emulator crashes or I get a big blaring error message. Of course, trying to look up information on the internet these days is a fools game, so I can’t fix this issue, and I gave up. So instead, I’m covering an earlier WCW title, WCW vs The World.
The thing about being a wrestling fan who owned a Playstation is that if you wanted a good wrestling game, you were fucked. There was Power Move Pro Wrestling, a half-way decent port of Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, and Fire Pro Wrestling G if you were willing to navigate Japanese menus and pay the inflated import prices of the era, but you otherwise had nothing until the Smackdown series began in 2000. Up until then, it was putting up with whatever dogshit Acclaim was putting out, and those bad WCW games whose only redeeming features were its FMV “rants,” if only to see a clearly inebriated Kevin Nash.
That being said, I was looking forward to WCW vs The World. After all, this was developed by the same team that would later do all those great N64 wrestling games. We knew them as AKI Corporation, later becoming syn sophia (stylized in all lower-case), the developers of the Style Savvy series. However, when this company began, they went under one of the greatest names a company can have: The Man Breeze. Let me say that again, THE MAN BREEZE. That’s awesome.
I bring all this up because it is baffling to me that this company would go on to do all of those great games, because WCW vs The World fucking sucks. There is a lot wrong with it.
Let’s start with this screenshot of the character select screen. Terrifying drawing of Sting aside, there’s a lot of characters, right? Look closely. All those names in the red boxes? Barring some hidden characters and one exception I’ll get to later, that is the entirety of the WCW roster in this game. Everyone else is a changed-so-as-not-to-violate-copyright version of a real wrestler from various Japanese wrestling promotions. This would be one thing if it were something like Fire Pro, where everything is unlicensed and I know what I’m getting into with that so there would be no complaint, but this an officially licensed WCW game and there’s only about 16 actual WCW characters in a game with a roster of 60! Of all the complaints anyone has ever made about World Championship Wrestling, at no point in time has there ever been a complaint about its roster being too small. Not that I’m sore about a number of awesome Japanese wrestlers being present, even in a compromised fashion, but I feel like if I put down some money for a WCW game, I would want some fucking WCW guys to be in the goddamn thing. Yeah, it has Hogan, Sting, Flair, the Steiners, and Lex Luger. But where is Randy Savage? Where is Kevin Nash and Scott Hall? Where is Rey Mysterio Jr? Harlem Heat? Brian Pillman? Diamond Dallas Page? Chris Jericho? Konnan? Maybe one of the colorful weirdos from the Dungeon of Doom (aside from The Giant, who can be unlocked)? It’s very obvious that this was a hastily edited version of a previously existing game made to have a slightly higher WCW presence.
There is a character in the blue section who is given the creative name of “Billy Gaijin,” who is a very obvious rip-off of Scott Norton. Here’s the thing: Scott Norton was already in WCW! He joined the company in 1995! He was one-half of the Fire and Ice tag team with Ice Train (CHOO! CHOO!)! He was part of the NWO! You don’t need to make a knock-off version of someone WHO IS ALREADY A CONTRACTED PERFORMER FOR THE PROMOTION YOU ARE MAKING A LICENSED PROPERTY OF.
Then there’s “The Unknown.” At first glance, you might think this is a take on Jushin “Thunder” Liger. That makes sense; after all, he was in the first match on the first ever episode of Monday Nitro. Except that this isn’t Liger, he’s elsewhere on the fictional roster. This is Super Delfin, a wrestler WHO HAS NEVER HAD A MATCH IN WCW!!!!!!! FUCK!!!!!! We could have had Booker T in this game. It sounds like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but it is fucked that a WCW game is lacking in having anything to actually do with WCW. Plus, the game gets so much worse.
Actually playing WCW vs The World is a chore. Controls are sluggish, with inputs not being recognized to such a degree I had to check and make sure my controller wasn’t broken. Even on Normal difficulty, the CPU counters every move you throw at it. Go for a strike, the CPU will immediately do a counter-grab. Go for a grab, the CPU will do a backdash and avoid it. Go for a running attack, the CPU will block it. Go for a block or a counter-grab, the CPU will do a regular grab. Change the difficulty down to Easy, and the CPU just stands there and lets you wail on them until the match is over. So there is either no challenge, or SNK-boss level bull shit. Those spirit meters on the bottom are there to illustrate how well you’re doing in a match, starting at red and moving to white. When it’s fully white, you can do your characters signature move. Or at least that’s how it worked in the N64 games. Here, it’s a fucking mystery how this shit works. You can beat the fuck out of your opponent, only to find that their spirit is rising, while your spirits remains at the same level. Put someone in the Scorpion Death Lock, and there’s a good chance they’ll have a finisher ready to go as soon as they get out of the hold. I had assumed that maybe I had to play going along with the ebb and flow of a real life pro wrestling match, where there’s a back-and-forth of offense and defense. Well that doesn’t work, shockingly enough. If you play too well, your opponent gains an advantage, while you get nothing. If you get your ass kicked, your opponent gains an advantage, while you also get nothing. I tried other things, like mixing up my offense and making sure to do different moves each time I was able to get a shot in. Still only served to help my opponent. The only winning strategy here is you should have bought a Nintendo 64 instead, you fucking mark.
WCW vs The World is a game that punishes you for trying to get any sort of enjoyment out of it. Whether it’s enjoyment from the perspective of playing a game, or the enjoyment you might get as a fan seeing your favorite WCW wrestlers. Even the part where the main roster plays second-fiddle would be more acceptable if the game itself wasn’t this frustrating mess to play. It is mind boggling that The Man Breeze made this, then proceeded to make six of the greatest wrestling games of all time back-to-back. Also a shame; this could have been a great digital showcase for fans of 1996-1997 WCW. Instead, it was treated more like a showcase for fans of 2000 WCW.
Wait, hold on.
Jeff Jarrett is a hidden character!? Alright, never mind, this game rules. 10/10. Jeff Jarrett is the GOAT.