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Title: WWF Royal Rumble
Rom Player: zsnes
Reviewer: Perry Normal

Synopsis: Ahhh, for the days of simple old fashioned rasslin. A simpler time when no one cared how crappy the punches looked and people had enterance music other than just generic metal. This was one of the first Super Nes games I ever bought (having been a gigantic wrestling nerd at the time) and it remained my favorite game in the genre until THQ raised the bar with No Mercy and the other awesome N64 offerings.

Playing the game now, having experienced those previously mentioned THQ games, it really doesnt stand up. On the other hand, the simple control scheme is easier to pick up than newer games on consoles with a dozen buttons on the controller. The most important thing with a game is fun though and Royal Rumble does provide a lot of it. Let's look a little more in depth.

Play Modes: You can have a singles match, tag match, Survivor Series match (where teams of 4 fight it out until one team are all eliminated), a tournament (in either singles or tag team) and, of course, a Royal Rumble. While its obviously frustrating not to have cage matches (or to more recent fans, Hell in a Cell, Ladder matches, Elimination Chamber, etc etc) at the time, this was an awesome array of choices. I believe it was also the first console game with a battle royale (Wrestlefest in the arcades had one earlier though) Moving on.

Controls: The controls are simple, and thinking about them now, you can really draw a line from the hallowed THQ control scheme back directly to this game (and I suppose its counter-parts Wrestlemania (on SNES and Genesis) and Raw). Here's the lowdown:
A: kick
B: punch
Y: run
X: grapple
L: eye gouge (only when the ref is knocked out)
R: choke (ditto)

That's your basic set-up. Once you've grab someone with the grapples, its time to button mash! Which button you mash corresponds with a different move:

A: headbutt
B: bodyslam
X: suplex
Y: irish whip (send the guy running or toss him out)
L: atomic drop
R: backbreaker

Theres also a wide variety of other moves for various situations; when the guy's running at you, your running at him, off the top rope, etc. So there are quite a few moves at your disposal here. Also, for one of the first times in a game, every rassler has their finishing move at their disposal. Every move is done by pressing R when your opponent is weakend, however the situation changes (i.e. Tombstone Piledriver-R in a grapple, Sharpshooter-R at your downed opponent's feet, Flying Elbow-R on the top rope). Great, I suppose, for younger gamers so they don't have to remember a ton of button combinations.

Graphics: I remember being amazed at how good the graphics were in this when I was a lad. All I can say now is I thought I started doing drugs a lot later in life. The graphics are putrid, every character except Yokozuna is based of exactly the same model and every face is nothing more than a pixelized blur. That not withstanding, they are at least brightly coloured and you can easily tell the characters from each other. For its time great, now ugh.

Sound: Take everything I said about graphics and you can apply it to the sound. You can recognize the basic tune to Shawn Michaels "Sexy Boy" song, or Bret Hart's old "Hart Foundation" music, but sweet jesus its rough. Luckily theres no music during gameplay, so you don't have to suffer through it during the matches.

Characters: The best part about this game for me was the roster. It had, to my knowledge, more wrestlers than any other wrestling game up until that point. They are (with the finishing move):
1)Bret Hart (Sharpshooter)
2)Shawn Michaels (Back Suplex, sorry pre-Superkick days)
3)Lex Luger (Running Forearm)
4)Yokozuna (Bonzai Drop)
5)Mr. Perfect (Perfectplex)
6)Razor Ramon (Razor's Edge)
7)Ted DiBiase (Million $ Dream)
8)Crush (Cranium Crunch)
9)Ric Flair (Figure 4 Leglock)
10)Randy Savage (Flying Elbow Drop)
11)Tatanka (Reverse Fall-Away Slam)
12)The Undertaker (Tombstone Piledriver)

I just about shit my pants as a kid seeing all these guys available for play. Also, I was greatly impressed by NO HULK HOGAN. From my youngest days as a wrestling fan I thought Hogan was full of shit and I cheered bad guys like DiBiase and Mr Perfect who, jerks as they were, could put on a wrestling match that would make your head spin. I suppose the timing is right, from what I read, this game came out about when Hogan left WWF for WCW. Oddly enough the Genesis version (which came out 6 months later) had Hogan in it, as well as old school bad guys like IRS and Rick Martel. But I digress.

Gameplay: The controls are kind of stiff, but easy to get into. Once you get used to the timing of the moves, you're ready to start snapping guys around the ring like firewood and winning Royal Rumbles having eliminated everyone yourself.

Originality: I suppose you could compare this game to Super Street Fighter 2. Now before you Street Fighter fans call "Blasphemy!" hear me out (I'm one of you for god's sake). This game took the basic mechanics and graphics of Wrestlemania on SNES and tweaked them, improving everything and adding the finishing moves. Much like SSF2 or SF2Turbo, it represents the evolution of an existing type of game. You can follow that evolution up to today with Day of Reckoning or Raw vs. Smackdown (or, for the purposes of our comparison, SFIII or Soul Calibre)

Overall: This was a great game for its time, which is hopelessly dated now. But it is interesting as a piece of history. Throw this in if you want a break from Day of Reckoning or Smackdown vs Raw and take a look at where these games have their roots.

Best Cheats: Pressing B and R together at the right time on the first screen full of copyright info will give you a super powerful punch. 2 punches and your opponent is totally out of energy. Theres also a way to do mirror matches, but I can't recall how. A good tip to tear apart the Royal Rumbles, just toss guys against the ropes as they come in and catch them with the B button as the run back towards the other side of the ring. You'll flip them out immediately. Finally, the best combo in the game is as follows. When your opponent is on the ground, standing above him and pressing B will make him do a big splash. The move will finish with you standing to the left of your opponent, as soon as you stand up, hit Y to start running and then immediately hit B to do an elbow drop. If you time it right, you will finish after the elbow drop standing exactly in the right position for another big splash and you can continue the pattern of splash-run-elbow-splash-run-elbow forever.

Game Play: 7
Graphics: 4
Music/Sound: 3
Originality: 5
Overall Rating: 7


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