Though the true golden age of pro wrestling video games wouldn’t hit until the late 90s, the NES managed to put out small, yet commendable group of wrestling games starting in the late 80s…
Tecmo World Wrestling (1990, Tecmo)
Tecmo was well-known in the NES era for their sports games. Who didn’t play Tecmo Bowl growing up? Well, in 1990 they decided to threw their hat in the squared cirlce with Tecmo World Wrestling and it’s the finest pro wrestling game available on NES. Even the box art is cool as we get to look at Ricky Steamboat putting a headlock on Road Warrior Animal. Okay, it’s not really supposed to be them but we all know that it is.
The game had a great cartoon style to it and the announcer was more entertaining than anything else as his commentary text popped up at the bottom with such colorful statements as “The pile driver! It’s doomsday for the skull”.
Akira Dragon (he’s on the box art) is the character I most liked to use. There was nothing more satisfying than using his patented german suplex for the win. Of course, as you went along, the opponents got tougher and I never could beat the darn game. But I sure gave it my best by using the old standy trick of trying to get my opponent counted out!
While I had been renting the game for years, I never actually owned it until 1993 when a local movie rental store called Video World was starting to sell their NES stock to make room for even more Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games.
WWF Wrestlemania (1988, Acclaim)
Wrestlemania was the very first wrestling game I played on the NES, so I have a real soft spot for it. I rented this game and Friday the 13th a lot from Rose’s about the time of the game’s release. The game was actually pretty had to control, for me anyway, I but still loved it just because it was the WWF.
My favorites to use were Hulk Hogan (of course) and Bam Bam Bigelow. And that opening theme is like crack on a stick.
Pro Wrestling (1987, Nintendo)
One of the early simply titled games from Nintendo themselves as a part of their “Sports Series”. The characters are colorful in look and name: Kin Corn Karn, King Slender, The Amazon, Starman (my personal favorite), etc. I bought this one back in the late 90s as one of the local gaming stores had tons of used NES games for really cheap. I can’t remember if it was a challenging game when I was little, but it sure kicked my butt the second time around.
Tecmo World Wrestling is pretty much an updated version of the game, and as in that game, each opponent gets incredibly more difficult to beat.
WCW Wrestling (1990, FCI)
I absolutely loved this game. To me, at the time, WCW was the lesser known lesser seen but edgier wrestling promotion when compared to the WWF and I liked that. Ric Flair and the Horsemen scared me and so did the Road Warriors. There was a sense of danger to WCW in my little mind!
The game is based on the 1989 Japan title called Super Star Pro Wrestling and the graphics are pretty horrible (by ’89, the NES/Famicom could’ve done so much better), but I still had a blast as Sting putting people in the Scorpion Deathlock.
WWF Wrestlemania Challenge (1990, LJN)
The first time I played this was at my cousins’ house over Christmas 1990 break. I fell in love with it because the graphics were amazing to me at the time and I loved the roster. Rick Rude?! Macho King?! ULTIMATE FRICKIN’ WARRIOR ?! And of course, there was even “Yourself”, who I often to took championship glory. The countout cheat was well in effect on this game.