Thursday 13 August 2015

WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage Challenge (NES review)

Developer: Sculptured Software
Publisher: LJN
Released: 1992

WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage Challenge was the third officially licensed wrestling game on the NES.  

There are ten famous wrestlers you can choose from and the line-up consists of Hulk Hogan, The Mountie, Irwin R. Schyster, Roddy Piper, Sid Justice, Bret Hart, Macho Man, Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts and The Undertaker. Each has an impressive rendition of their entrance music and they're even introduced by Howard Finkel beforehand! You can play one-on-one against the computer or battle it out with two players competitively. There's also a 2 player tag team mode where you work together to wrestle the computer. A strength indicator at the top of the screen shows how much life each wrestler has left; when your opponents bar has been decreased enough you'll want to press Down and B when they're on the ground to attempt a pin. If you're playing in a Steel Cage match you can also win by climbing up the cage before your opponent reaches his feet. Attacks include slams, head butts and flying elbows, and pressing A and B together allows you to run or bounce off the ropes so you can perform flying clotheslines and shoulder butts. However, the moves list is small and no character specific stats or special moves are available. As a result each wrestler is exactly the same and with little strategy involved each match ends up with mindless and continuous button mashing. You can climb out of the ring but weirdly you're only able to return through the left and right sides. The A.I. is dumb and many times during cage matches they'll run straight into the steel and knock themselves out! The camera movement is jerky and the poor sprite animation makes the action look like a stop-motion slideshow.

In reality, WWF WrestleMania: Steel Cage Challenge is a simple brawler that's been disguised as a wrestling game. It has little depth and the action is so flawed and repetitive that it's impossible to play for too long without developing carpal tunnel syndrome!

Random trivia: The game was also released on the Sega Master System and Game Gear. A few wrestlers were removed from these versions and replaced with Ric Flair, Papa Shango, Shawn Michaels and Tatanka.

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