In this series chronicling wrestling video games throughout history, it’s time to leap into the fifth generation of consoles. The original Sony PlayStation, or PS1, was one of the first giant steps made in the realm of 3D gaming. Before this, most games took place with two-dimensional depth in mind. This, along with another console that will be covered in a future console, helped to bridge the gap between what was old and would be considered new.
The PS1 was incredibly successful and won the aforementioned fifth console generation. It was easy to see why, as it not only featured memory card support and multimedia features but a vast library of games. In fact, many gamers consider Sony’s first outing in the console market to have the most impressive library. Amidst the sea of original PlayStation titles existed a number of wrestling video games. Here, we will take a deep dive into some of the best and most memorable wrestling games the PS1 had to offer.
Also known as the PS1 or PSX, the PlayStation came to life in an interesting way. In the 90s, Sony was approached by Nintendo with a proposition to develop a CD add-on. This would be used to enhance the capabilities of the Super Famicom, the Japanese name for the Super Nintendo. Difficulties arose during the development process. Before the CD add-on in question could be completed in its intended form, the working relationship between Sony and Nintendo ended.
This work didn’t go to waste, however. Utilizing the knowledge they learned, Sony went to work developing their own platform. The result was the PlayStation, which was released in Japan in 1994 and other regions in 1995. As stated earlier, the PlayStation boasted a strong library, with genres ranging from platformers to racing games to RPGs being well represented. Classic PS1 titles included “Castlevania: Symphony of the Night,” “Metal Gear Solid,” and the “Crash Bandicoot” and “Spyro the Dragon” series. and When it came to wrestling video games, fans weren’t starved for content. Consider these titles if you’re planning to revisit old classics or experience titles for the first time.
Power Move Pro Wrestling
Released in Japan in 1995 and North America and Europe in 1996, “Power Move Pro Wrestling” by Yuke’s is the most unassuming game on this list. Compared to other entries, this doesn’t have the most recognizable roster or branding. It also saw the fewest sales during its lifetime. However, compared to other wrestling video games that released on the original PlayStation, “Power Move Pro Wrestling” is one of the better entries to give a spin.
As the first wrestling game to release on the PS1, “Power Move Pro Wrestling” made a solid impression. Featuring a familiar grappling system and a series of strikes, this title incorporated elements that wouldn’t be out of place in future branded wrestling games. In fact, it was the gameplay that kept players invested. The original roster featured no real-life wrestlers and arena choices were limited. Despite its bare-bones presentation, “Power Move Pro Wrestling” got it right from a mechanical standpoint.
It’s interesting to note that some of the developers of “Power Move Pro Wrestling” would eventually work on future wrestling titles such as the “SmackDown” series. Until then, this was the wrestling game that fans would have to satiate their appetite with until more recognizable classics hit the scene. In hindsight, given how some titles have aged better than others, “Power Move Pro Wrestling” deserves a revisit or a first-time playthrough.
Released in North America and Europe in 1999, “WWF Attitude” was developed and published by Acclaim. When it comes to wrestling video games on the PS1, this is a title that sticks out. It was so popular that it not only received Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast ports but a reimagined version on the Game Boy Color. It was the PS1 version of “WWF Attitude” that became arguably the most memorable. Quirks and all, it is a classic in its own right.
As the sequel to the “WWF War Zone,” which released the year prior, “WWF Attitude” retained most of the gameplay elements from its predecessor. During gameplay, wrestlers delivered moves to one another, the goal being to reduce their life meters. The lower one’s meter became, the closer they were to defeat. “WWF Attitude” also featured a Career Mode, which would become the standard for wrestling video games moving forward.
“WWF Attitude” showcased other elements that would become commonplace in future wrestling games, including new match types and a more robust creation mode. Its gameplay, especially compared to its contemporaries and successors, played awkwardly, with moves feeling stunted. It’s also worth noting that “WWF Attitude” marked the final time the World Wrestling Federation worked with Acclaim. If nothing else, this game an interesting piece of trivia.
WCW vs. The World
As the sole World Championship Wrestling game on this list, the THQ-developed “WCW vs. The World” was released in Japan in 1996 before making its way to North America and Europe in 1997. WCW released several wrestling video games on the PS1. These included “WCW/nWo Thunder,” “WCW Mayhem,” and “WCW Backstage Assault.” However, it was “WCW vs. The World” that ended up being the title that aged best.
For fans that played THQ’s outings on the Nintendo 64 – these will be discussed in time – “WCW vs. The World” should feel familiar. Its grappling system and an array of strikes should feel familiar to those that have played the aforementioned outings. Furthermore, “WCW vs. The World” featured a roster of over 50 characters, including well-known WCW stars and original characters based on real-life grapplers. For those that have played THQ wrestling games during this era, the latter should come as little surprise.
While “WCW vs. The World” would set the stage for future wrestling games during the fifth generation of consoles, its ideas are rough around the edges. It feels more difficult than it should be to grapple or pull off strikes. However, “WCW vs. The World” is still one of the better PS1 wrestling video games in retrospect. Give this a go, especially if you fondly remember the WCW outings on the N64.
WWF SmackDown 2: Know Your Role
From the early to mid-2000s, the “SmackDown” series was the premiere line of wrestling video games on the PlayStation series of consoles. Its debut title, “WWF SmackDown,” released in 2000 to strong reviews. Simply put, this was the essential wrestling game that every PS1 owner required. However, if “WWF SmackDown” set the ground, its sequel built upon it to create a more fleshed out experience. Enter “WWF SmackDown 2: Know Your Role,” which saw a North America and Europe release in late 2000 before landing in Japan in early 2001.
“WWF SmackDown 2: Know Your Role,” featuring a well-known catchphrase from The Rock, retained its gameplay style from its precursor. With fast-paced grapples and strikes, it moves much quicker than previous wrestling games, making it a more engaging experience. Furthermore, it built upon its creation suite, offering more options to develop original characters instead of selecting templates. Though creation options would become more robust in the games that followed, the offerings of the second “SmackDown” were impressive for the time.
If “WWF SmackDown 2: Know Your Role” had any notable flaws, they would be concerning its new Season Mode. Even back in 2000, players detested how long scenes took to load and the repetitive nature of certain match cards. However, with new match types and the ability to take in-ring fights to more expansive backstage areas, the second “SmackDown” title provided enough value to be considered a classic among wrestling video games. The “SmackDown” series wouldn’t see a third title until after the release of the PlayStation 2.
It can be argued that the formula for modern wrestling video games began with the fifth generation of consoles. The original PlayStation is etched in video game history and it can be argued that its selection of wrestling games played a role. However, in the aforementioned generation, the PlayStation had a formidable opponent. Next time, we will take a look at the best and most memorable wrestling titles released on the Nintendo 64.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.