Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special

As I’ve talked about herehere and here, joshi (women’s) pro-wrestling has been, at various times, a popular form of entertainment in Japan over the years. And since having been introduced to it via some TV exposure in the United States and via tape trading (GOD I feel old whenever I talk about the concept of tape trading nowadays), I’ve pretty much become a fan myself, even going so far as going to see Eagle Sawai’s retirement in 2007. But, the concept of women’s wrestling to be mainstream enough to get an actual licensed video game was quite novel to me at the time. So that’s why I did a bit of a mini freakout when I found that there were actually quite a few. For instance, did you know that Pro-Wrestling on the SEGA Master System was actually converted from a game based around the Crush Girls and their fued with Dump Matsumoto and crew?

Well, I found out about these while researching Fire Pro Wrestling games. This was well before my time in Japan of course, and therefore thought I’d never have the chance to be able to buy them, so I played the hell out of the roms. And the one I played the most was Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen’s Special.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicom
Released in June of 1995 on the Super Famicom (and apparently there was a PC Engine CD version released in February of that year), Queen’s Special was unique in that it was an officially licensed Fire Pro game. Besides the joshi games, all Fire Pro games, from the first one on the PC Engine to the last one released on the PS2 even here in the US (I’m not counting that little XBLA loser) have been unlicensed games. Sure, the characters would strongly resemble real life wrestlers, but they had no official permission to have them in the game. However, these were different. And they were officially licensed from All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling.

It wasn’t until 2007 while living in Yamanashi that I was finally able to receive a full, in the box copy, and I’ve since played it to completion a number of times.

Let’s take a closer look.

Control:

Control is similar to just about any Fire Pro Game, IE you walk up to your opponent to initiate grapple, and press your desired button or arrow direction plus button at the proper time to execute a move. The game will then internally do some sort of rock-paper-scissors with both you and your opponent’s stats to decide who’s move gets done.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicom

One thing to warn “y’all” about, and its something I catch myself doing from time to time, is that, like every Fire Pro game, when you perch yourself on the top rope, you’d better be sure of which button you want to press. This is because it doesn’t matter if the opponent is standing up or lying down… if you press that button, it’s only gonna do one move.

Unlike the wrestling games we’re familiar with today, Fire Pro had a single move dedicated to a single button in this case. If your opponent is down and you press A, then your Manami is going to attempt a top-rope dropkick, and miss horribly.

Visuals:

Animations are completely new and have not been seen in any Fire Pro before or since.

Notable:

Joshi Bridge!

Also, no breathe button!
Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicomMoves are animated to look very… joshi. If you’ve seen Japanese women’s professional wrestling before, you’d know that they work very differently from the men. This game does well in capturing that, and is probably why these animations have not been seen since.

Gameplay:

You work the match by wearing down your opponent using weaker grapple moves in the beginning, and then mixing it up with submissions and peppering in a few lucky strikes whenever you can. All of your moves are available from the outset, and you DON’T have to work up any “momentum bar” up to any “Specials” or “Finishers”. Nope. It’s all there.

Super Fire Pro Wrestling Queen's Special super famicom

Now why wouldn’t you want to use it?

Because you’d be reversed to HELL if you did. Sure, you might be able to land a lucky few… and if your character is relatively stronger than your opponent, maybe you’ll be able to pull off a few. BUT DON’T TRY IT.

Or, you know what, go ahead. Try it. See where it gets you.

However, I’ve noticed that as soon as you’re able to knock them down with a single strike, then they’re pretty ready to receive just about any grapple you want to hit. Just about.

Character Name Changes:

Chigusa Nagayo – Vampire Woman
Devil Masami – Demolition … something
Dinamite Kansai – Kansai Dinosaur??

Issues:

– Like any other Fire Pro game, the CPU logic makes no distinction between moves that should be done on the outside versus moves that should be done on the inside. Your opponent will always eat up valuable count-out time wrapping you up in a submission hold.

Motor City Dragstrip

Motor City Dragstrip

In today’s world, online multiplayer gaming is an everyday thing. People rutinely go online and can fight, wrestle, and shoot others in real time. But back in MY day (I say as I feel my hair greying), for online multiplayer games we had only a few options. One was a major online service like CompuServe, PlayNET, GEnie, or Q-Link (a direct descendent of the above PlayNET, which later begot America Online). Another were MUDs on the then nascent Internet, which
was only available to government workers or college students and staff. As for my family, however, we chose BBS, or Bulletin Board System, door games.

Motor City Dragstrip

For those who don’t know (and for those who already do, please bear with me here), a BBS was a computer system, usually owned and operated by a hobbyist, that other computer users during these primitive times could call up and do any number of things: send e-mail (though at this time, not exactly what WE would consider e-mail), download or upload files of various types, and play games. And many of these games allowed for multiplayer play, although most forced a turn-taking scenario. This meant that while YOU were playing a game against a human player, the computer was actually doing the playing using the stats that player had built up while he WAS online. And when you were done, your opponent’s stats would be updated, and this would likely affect how he plays the next time he logs into the system.

There were many different genres of such games: from gambling, to sports, to even multiplayer RPGs. But the one that yours truly, Chris “Sledge” Douglas used to play the most, was Motor City Dragstrip, commonly known as MC Race due to the zip file that the game was packed into.

Motor City Dragstrip

Motor City Dragstrip was written by John Parlin for Motor City Software in 1990. There may have been a number of versions, but the one I have played the most and still currently use is 2.0, which was released in 1991. The game consists of a one on one racing mode, but your racing is not controlled directly by you. In fact, the only skill required is the ability to press the Enter key when the ANSI light turns green. NOT before, or you will forfeit your victory, and certainly not after.

As BBS users of the day used modems which had extremely low bandwidth compared to what we have today, there are no “graphics” per se. Everything is drawn on screen using ASCII text and shapes and ANSI color codes and animation. Many other such door games are done this way as well and it’s… fine. It’s perfectly functional, but not particularly good, even compared to other ANSI work.

Motor City Dragstrip

The winner is simulated by the computer based on your stats, which include fuel level, engine type, and condition of your tires. You can also choose your favorite brand of car, but I honestly have no idea if that aspect factors in or not.

Motor City Dragstrip

In between races, you can do a number of things to better your chances of winning in the Pit Stop Menu. Here, you can fuel up, change your tires, change your engine, or even change your car entirely. Of course, this all costs money, but if you don’t you can have your engine die, fuel run out, or even blow your tires which (apparently, as you can’t actually see it happening) can send you careening out of control destroying your car and potentially kill your crew.

Oh, and speaking of your crew, be sure have enough crew. You start off with one, but if you don’t hire more, he will get fed up and quit.

Motor City Dragstrip

Of course, with a game like this, there are some major flaws. First, if you buy a Supercharged Hemi right away, really the only opponents who can beat you are those with the same engine. Sure, the next engine below it may have a tiny fraction of a chance to pass you out, but odds are that you will always come out victorious. Add that to the fact that you get $15,000 to start out with and everything is pretty affordable, and this game can become boring real fast.

Motor City Dragstrip
You’d probably have more fun being a little LESS conservative.

There are two aspects that do actually help this game out, despite what I just said. Of course, playing against another real BBS user rather than the computer is always fun. Again, this is done in the aforementioned turn-based style, and your opponent will have no idea what happened until he logs back in to that BBS. The other is the gambling system. This definitely helps balance the game out, as when you do keep piling on the wins, you get tempted to wager more and more money on the races. In fact, my most recent playthrough had me absolutely dominating until I made one HUGELY bad bet and lost. Of course, blowing out my tires and killing one of my crew wasn’t a huge help either.

Motor City Dragstrip
I’M SO SORRY! Please send my regards to the family of…
umm… squinty??

In conclusion, Motor City Dragstrip was a fun little trip back in time for me… but I really can’t recommend it to today’s modern gamers. Even though there really is no skill involved other than some light inventory management, the race wager functionality does certainly add a bit of excitement to the procedings. This game was definitely WAY more of a fun experience on an active BBS with multiple real life opponents.

If you really want to give it a shot, look for a zip file starting with MCRACE. With all the BBS CDs that are available through textfiles.com or even archive.org now, it shouldn’t be hard to find. The registered version, however? That’s a completely different story.

Here’s a video of the gameplay in action… and as you will see, it was not without tragedy…

1 Quarter Run: WWF Wrestlefest

wwf-wrestlefest

WWF Wrestlefest

Welcome to 1 QUARTER RUN, where I try to get as far as I can with ONLY 1 quarter!  No continues, replays or savestates!

wwf-wrestlefest

Why do this?  I’ve been a gamer for a VERY long time.  That being said, I’m constantly trying to improve myself.  These “let’s plays” are my attempts to improve myself and talk about the game and its surrounding context at the same time.

wwf-wrestlefest

My first entry is WWF Wrestlefest.  I had done a text review of its predecessor, WWF Superstars, some years back. However, it was THIS game that TRULY set the standard for great wrestling games during an era when wrestling games had a hard enough time being “good.”

wwf-wrestlefest

So come and join Prixel Derp’s Chris “Sledge” Douglas as I take on WWF Wrestlefest’s Saturday Night’s Main Event mode, and see how well I can do on this notorious quarter muncher!

WWF Superstars

 

WWF Superstars

Technos Japan, 1989

One of the first major licensed arcade wrestling games to hit the US streets did so in 1989 when Technos Japan released WWF Superstars. While not an immensely deep game, it did offer its share of action and enjoyment to those who had enough quarters (it ate quarters like nothing else, save WWF Wrestlefest).

The story: Flashback to WWF in the late 80’s, after the amazing Hogan-Andre feud. Bobby Heenan, then Andre’s manager, sells Andre’s services to the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (who brought Steve Austin into the WWF).

Their main rivals are the team of Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage, the Megapowers. This feud was enough to make DiBiase and Andre, the unplayable boss characters in this game, demigods in the eyes of those who played against them.

The Game:

Graphics:

The graphics would fit right into the world of Double Dragon, as they both have a very similar style.  It is definitely well above what the most popular home console, the NES, could do at the time.

Gameplay:

In fact, the punching in this game is Technos-y; IE very much a flailing style not unlike the aforementioned Double Dragon.  Quite different from their actual punches but that’s… fine.

When you pin someone, you immediately control your tag team partner.  This is useful for trying to block your opponent’s partner from breaking your pin, but it can be disorienting at times because as soon as the pin is broken, you’re back in control of your main character.

There is no way to regain your health… even if you tag out.  The only way you can heal yourself is to insert more quarters.  Once your power hits 0, you have no chance of kicking out of a pin.  And, your power does not regenerate EVEN if you win and go on to the next match.  You better either conserve, or have enough quarters ready to go at it.

The sequel, WWF Wrestlefest, would later improve on this mistake, allowing you to regain some health while tagged out.

Sound:

The intro music is fantastic.  I had that tune trapped in my head ever since I first laid eyes on this at Crazy Eights Arcade in Waterbury, CT.  This song absolutely signified WRESTLING to me for quite a bit of time.

Furthermore, when you’re low on power, the music can get QUITE dramatic… until you insert that quarter like you’re supposed to, ya dingus.

WWF Superstars

  Insert coin! Something you’re going to see quite often in this game.

 WWF Superstars Hey… all but two of these guys were still working all the way up to 1999!

Honestly, having six distinct characters to choose from was pretty good for a 1989 game.  A lot of games, including the previously released WWF Wrestlemania for the NES may have had multiple characters, but in many cases, they had the exact same moveset.  Here, each character had their own movesets!

Also unheard of was the fact that each character had their actual finishers (well, except for Duggan of course, who used a clunky bulldog, instead of his 3-point stance clothesline).  Again, this was a feature COMPLETELY missing from the aforementioned WWF Wrestlemania.

WWF Superstars

 Do you have what it takes?

In other words, do you have $50 in quarters?
Seriously.  Games like these were serious quarter
eaters.
 

WWF Superstars 
Ahh… good ol’ New York.  Appears to be Madison Square
Garden.  Noticeably absent is the Iron Sheik, bragging
about how many times he sold the place out.

 WWF Superstars

To demonstrate this game, I chose the Mega Powers.  The only matches available in this game are tag-team.  While this may be unfortunate to today’s wrestlegame fans, it is nevertheless a fun way to spend some pocket change in 1989.

And after 3 gutwrenching and heartbreaking matches for my opponents (and possibly for the poor fans in attendance who had to watch the same tag-team fight over and over again):

WWF Superstars

 WWF Superstars

 WWF Superstars

Mean Gene: “They’re claiming themselves challengers to your world championship belts.”“No one can beat the Mega-Bucks”, Andre says, while gazing longingly at Virgil…

“I’ll put you to sleep with my Million Dollar Dream!”

WWF Superstars Those lazy bastards!  They couldn’t be bothered to drawa new scene for Ted and Andre’s entrance, so they just decided to reverse it!

So as you may have guessed, your final opponents are Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase.  Andre is a notorious pain in the ass.  Do not try any power moves on him…  he can EASILY reverse them!  Once in a while they will work, but it’s best not even tried!  DiBiase is no slouch either, but Andre is SERIOUSLY tough.

After beating the Mega-Bucks:

WWF Superstars

 WWF Superstars

Your victory celebration!

Elizabeth: “I am pleased to present you

with these championship belts!”
But wait there’s more…

 WWF Superstars What??  Do mine eyes decieve me?
Is that the Budokan? Yes it indeed is!
I made many a trip here when I lived in Japan.

 So,yes.  After winning in New York, you are instantly whisked away to the land of Giant Baba and Stan Hansen, as the WWF invades Japan!  Could we be in for some 5 star classics, ala Misawa vs. Kawada?

WWF Superstars 

Nope.
No matter where the WWE goes, it’s always the same.

Hey, didn’t ya ever notice that the computer can duck,

but you can’t? And is DiBiase teaming with the Warrior?  
Only three more matches to go… again.

WWF Superstars 

This again??  “Declaring ourselves”?  I thought we were the champs!

WWF Superstars 
But we already have… nevermind.

Despite my apparent frustration with this game, I actually love it!  At this point, wrestling games, at least in the US (with the sole exception of Pro-Wrestling for the NES) were pretty much garbage.  WWF Wrestlemania for the NES was garbage, and Microleague Championship Wrestling (the C64 / Amiga game which was pretty much rock-paper-scissors with primitive FMV) was nothing but novelty.  WWF Superstars was pretty much the only game in town for a “proper” wrestling game.  It was great for its time, and it still holds up pretty well today!

The only things close to a “port” (and as Bobby Heenan would say, “I use that term LOOSELY”) would be Ocean Software’s 1991 WWF Wrestlemania for C64, DOS, Amiga, etc., and WWF Superstars for the Gameboy, both of which emulated the graphic style and had more contemporaneous wrestlers but added a weird promo mechanic.

But those are for another time!

Astrosmash

Astrosmash - Intellivision

How often is it that a game plays a big hand in your life? I mean, really big. Like, it brought upon the birth of someone, big. Ok, obviously I’m going to have to explain THAT one…

In this edition, Prixel Derp’s Chris “Sledge” Douglas takes a look at 1981’s Astrosmash, for the Intellivision. Designed by John P. Stohl for Mattel Electronics, this game is not only a ridiculously addictive shooter, its also quite possibly the only game that will adjust it’s difficulty level as you play! And this tension… well, you’ll see…

Haunted Hill

haunted-hill-c64

Haunted Hill

With all the hubub about DRM and digital distribution of games, it’s real easy to forget that some platforms have been using the concept for DECADES.  One such platform was the Commodore 64, a system very near and dear to my heart.  And as such, I’d like to present a game that is similarly dear to me, as it’s one of the first games I ever played, Haunted Hill for the Commodore 64!

Written by George Richardson for Merlin’s Associates, its a simple Centipede style game released as a shareware title in 1983. But, as you’ll find out, it’s more than just that.