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 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.
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.
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.
Insert coin! Something you’re going to see quite often in this game.
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.
Do you have what it takes?
In other words, do you have $50 in quarters?
Seriously. Games like these were serious quarter
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.
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):
|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!”
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:
Your victory celebration!
Elizabeth: “I am pleased to present you
with these championship belts!”
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?
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.
This again?? “Declaring ourselves”? I thought we were the champs!
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!