WWF No Mercy

[youtube id=”jRyyS08P7mU” width=”633″ height=”356″]

WWF No Mercy

In every console cycle there are always games that get lost in time for whatever reason, waiting for the day when an ardent fan would bring them back up to a volley of puzzled looks. When AKI Corporations’ WWF No Mercy debuted on the Nintendo 64 in mid 2000, people were already looking towards shinier, newer things that they were told would blow their socks off, destroy their wallets and take them to the elusive ‘Third Place’.

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

 

Concurrent to No Mercy‘s release, wrestling popularity was at its height, and kids everywhere wanted to be The Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin ( including me). When WWF No Mercycame out my local Kmart’s game shelves were filled with nothing but copies of Waialae Country Club and the odd exorbitantly priced copy of Conker’s Bad Fur Day (something for another article to be sure), so at this point I was mighty wary of what I was getting into.  It’s handy then that No Mercy was both a fantastic representation of wrestling and a damn good game. In fact, it was one of my favourite games of all time!

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

All it took was five buttons of destruction and the loving cradle of the Nintendo 64 controller and you could be beating up a virtual Triple H in no time. Never mind the overblown simulators that wrestling games have become today, No Mercy had an easy to learn, yet robust grapple system which meant that all competitors were (usually) similarly skilled, moves were easy to pull off and wonderfully animated for the time.  There is something awesome about seeing your opponent somersault through the air rag-doll style after a well-timed clothesline, or smash into the canvas after a power bomb.

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

 

If you became good enough, simple strikes could be turned into match winning counters – all the more sweet when you could hit an opponent with their own finisher. When I say hit, I mean really hit!  No Mercy captured the big hits of wrestling so well and with such great sound effects that when I used to go town on friends with a set of steel steps or a ladder I almost felt sorry for them…almost! The grunts and groans heard during submission moves are also pretty awesome but in more of a, ‘I suddenly feel disturbed’  kind of way. The bell sound effect that rang when a player copped a low blow is still hilarious to this day.

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

 

But it wasn’t just the game play that made No Mercy stand out – we’d already seen a similar engine in the previous games Wrestlemania 2000WCW vs N W O Revenge and WCW vs N W O World Tour. It was the fact that the game is pure fan service with over 60 wrestlers to choose from, including some wacky retro long-retired ones. Nearly every wrestler came with their own unique move set and entrance video with authentic music and taunts. They even modelled the different arenas from the show for extra authenticity.

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

 

In addition to all of this is a wealth of content including a championship mode for every belt that had dialogue, branching paths and even choices you could make to influence alliances. A survival mode – where you were charged with defeating forty opponents without getting knocked out of the ring, custom multiplayer tournaments and one hell of a create-a-wrestler mode. I would spend hours crafting a character to my liking before loading it onto my memory card and heading to a friends place to take them on.

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

 

Of course, I’d love to call No Mercy a perfect game but there are a few minor things that have always irked me. If you played the game regularly you’ll remember a rather annoying glitch that randomly deleted your content. There are also other versions of the game where characters wouldn’t bleed. But hey, I’m willing to let a couple of troublesome glitches slide after so much fun, especially for something that’s still enjoyable to this day. So much so, thatNo Mercy remains a very popular choice for wrestling fans on the PC. Although, seeing as they’ve patched and modified the game so much to bring it up to ‘modern’ graphical standards it has become very much a different game – with some people going so far as to replace the older wrestlers with the current ones. Sacrilege!

WWF-No-Mercy-N64

 

So if you’ve read this far you may have worked out that I hold this game in rather high regard. For me, it’s a game that sits up there with Goldeneye for multiplayer on the Nintendo 64 and is easily the best wrestling game of all time. The gameplay holds up so well and there’s so much to do that even though I don’t watch wrestling anymore, I can still return to it with three friends and have as good an experience as I had 11 years ago.

Mission Impossible

[youtube id=”kS-RU_xNqIw” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Mission Impossible 

Well known as being a crushing disappointment when it was released back in 1998, it’s difficult to know exactly who would want to play Mission Impossible nowadays.

What’s really surprising about revisiting it today though is how you can still see the potential underneath the myriad of design missteps. It wasn’t dubbed ‘dissapointing’ for nothing.

Based on the TV series rather than the movie, the game opens with that tune and with some truly shonky looking character introductions.

Mission_Impossible-N64

Supposedly made to look like each person is twirling towards the screen, they instead look like they’re suffering from some serious spasms.

Things don’t get any better with the opening cutscene, which is woodenly animated and incredibly ugly and angular. It was never going to look good next to modern titles, but it’s still noticeably poor.

The first mission is also dull, and lacks any of the verve or excitement of the opening of say, Goldeneye.

You’re tasked with infiltrating a frosty Scandinavian (well, I presume it’s Scandanavian – the game gives all of its locations fake names for some reason) base and destroy the submarine within it.

Mission_Impossible-N64

Sounds promising, but it’s almost insultingly simple. You go into a building once you’re into the base, knock out a guard, disguise yourself as him (face changing is a big part of the game) and then stroll to the exit.

You then get to the next section, and have to find some bombs (why you didn’t bring your own is never explained) and plant them onto the sub and escape.

This had the potential to be a tense and stealth-based affair, but the game allows you to alert all the guards in the complex and still survive.

Thanks to the huge health meter (that’s the fuse at the bottom of the screenshot above) you can take hit after hit and grab the bombs, attach them to the sub and escape with no trouble at all.

Mission_Impossible-N64

It feels cheap, and there’s no satisfaction to be had from defying the odds as it was so easy.

Still, it’s perhaps fortunate that stealth wasn’t an pre-requisite in the mission, as the controls are woeful if you’re hoping to avoid detection. The main reason for this is because it’s nearly impossible to control the camera.

You have to move your hand off the analogue stick and use the d-pad to rotate the camera, which is as clumsy as it gets.

This means the C-pad is used to select your items and the d-pad for the camera, whereas it should have been the other way around.

So after this limp opening you may be ready to give up hope, but the next mission is markedly better – or at least, it starts off well.

Mission_Impossible-N64

You must access the important areas of a Czech embassy while disguised as a waiter, while also having to rig the air ducts with gas bombs and assume the identity of the Ambassadors Aide.

The way you achieve the last objective is actually surprisingly enjoyable and amusing. You not only have to spike his drink, but also have follow him to the bathroom and knock him out (and then change your face to his).

Most amusing is the cutscene where you drag the unconscious aide into the bathroom. You see him being slowly pulled in, and it looks incredibly dodgy – this clip must have been included as a joke.

What even more hilarious is when you take out the female assassin in the same place. Look 4 minutes and 53 seconds into this video to see for yourself:

[youtube id=”h4yR1ebPKFM” width=”633″ height=”356″]

This section ultimately makes you feel like an undercover agent though, and is a great example of why people’s hopes for this game back in 1998 were so high.

Somewhat inevitably it’s followed by a highly tedious trudge through a poison gas filled labyrinth however, which requires you to know exactly which explosive boxes to destroy to get through.

Choose the wrong route and you’re pretty much finished, as you only have a limted amount of ammunition.

Mission_Impossible-N64

To make matters worse the game froze while I was playing this section for no reason whatsoever, but with the game’s reputation for being a buggy this was no surprise.

My recent time playing the game is a perfect demonstration of the game as a whole. Small, promising snippets followed by crushingly dull or frustrating troughs.

Mission Impossible is not a complete disaster, but is sadly a case of a potentially great license squandered.