There are a lot of video games out there and in this era of mobile and home-based gaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic?
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable games through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best video games, our attention this time turns to wrestling-themed games. From well-known games like WWE to the obscure Ultimate Muscle, you have a lot of games to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Def Jam: Fight For NY
Def Jam: Fight For NY is the craziest wrestling game you’ll ever play. Instead of a professional wrestler, you’ll be playing as real-world rappers, musicians, and some fictional characters that are tied to the story. From Snoop Dogg to Ice-T, there are many prolific figures in the game for you to choose from and cause mayhem.
This is a sequel to Def Jam: Vendetta and expands upon what made that game great in wrestling fans’ eyes. In Fight for NY, you play as an unnamed person who gets roped into a gang led by the infamous mafia boss named, D-Mob. You’ll fight through a gauntlet filled with crooks, gangsters, and rappers until you reach the infamous Crow, played by Snoop Dogg.
It’s an entertaining story with slight twists and drama to keep you invested. The gameplay’s astounding and features many over-the-top finishers for you to execute on opponents. The game’s battlefields are just as interesting. You’ll fight in bars, street lots, wrestling rings, and many other locales. Even if you’re not a music enthusiast, there’s much fun to be had with this game.
WWE Day of Reckoning
WWE Day of Reckoning is a fun wrestling game with a great story mode, fun gameplay, and a decent playable roster. The game’s graphics don’t hold a candle to what’s released today, though. However, at a time when fans had to sit through Wrestlemania XIX’s strange graphics, Day of Reckoning looked like a huge step up.
Nonetheless, this game’s also praised for its gripping narrative. You’ll create a superstar who must climb through the ranks to earn a spot on the roster. You’ll encounter many noteworthy wrestlers who were popular at the time the game was released. Eventually, you’ll choose between Raw and Smackdown.
This decision plays a role in what championship you’ll be gunning for and leads to some entertaining banter. While you’ll have to play Day of Reckoning 2 to discover what happens next, the first game’s plot should suffice. The gameplay is what you expect with a WWE-themed game and it contains beloved match types like triple-threat, hell in a cell, steel cage, and the royal rumble. If you’re looking for a fun wrestling game to play with an amusing storyline though, this one’s worth revisiting.
WWE ’13 is a professional wrestling game developed by Yukes and published by THQ. This game follows suit with other installments in being a yearly release title for the WWE series. Critics and fans adored this game for its incredible Attitude Era game mode, astonishing graphics, fun combat, and varied playable roster.
The Attitude Era mode features many superstars to play as and over 60 cutscenes for players to sit through. It recreates several moments from this wrestling entertainment era from revamped entrances and arenas. Long-term WWE fans will appreciate the game’s commentary from icons like Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross.
It even features segments from the Monday Night War and WCW storylines. The gameplay also received massive improvements. No longer can wrestlers like Rey Mysterio pick up people like the Big Show. While this will be a bummer for some, it makes the game appear more genuine, allowing fans to immerse themselves in this virtual interpretation. While some audio tracks will bug players, many will admire the passion that went into crafting this title. If you love the WWE series of games, this one’s worth trying out.
WCW/nWo Revenge is regarded as one of the greatest wrestling games of all time. It contained an immersive grappling system, an incredible playable roster, and wonderful graphics for its time. The grappling system made the game feel realistic and allowed players to perform many moves that would make them feel like a wrestler.
The game went on to become one of the N64’s best-selling third-party games of all time. The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences also listed it as the “Fighting Game of the Year” in 1998. The game includes an enticing championship mode with three different match-ups. You could fight for the Tag-team, Cruiserweight, or U.S. Heavyweight Championship.
While its graphics aren’t as impressive in the modern age, the gameplay holds up well. If you’re looking for a classic professional wrestling game to play, then give WCW/nWo Revenge a shot.
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns is a unique professional wrestling game. Instead of following the trend of other games like it, this game required players to strategically time their attacks. You can’t button-mash your way at a victory in this one. This divided some folks, but others found it refreshing and charming. The game boasts an incredible 320+ playable roster of wrestlers from various companies.
The game carried fabulous customization options that extended past your usual character customization foray. Not only can you make your own wrestler, but you could create wrestling rings, belts, promotions, and referees. Returns introduced a neat Face Layer tool that allowed players to recreate wrestlers’ faces using countless items.
Like other wrestling titles, this one includes some fun match-ups. Some noteworthy ones are the cage match and the Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch. The game also features a Match Maker mode. In it, players create showcases in hopes of generating praise from the audience. If you’re looking for a professional wrestling game with a different take on gameplay, give this a shot.
WWF WrestleMania 2000
WWF WrestleMania 2000 is a great professional-wrestling video game with the same engine as WCW/nWo Revenge. It has over 50 wrestlers, great character and in-game customization options, and fun modes. From recreating pay-per-view events to championships, this game offers many valuable features for wrestling fans to seek their teeth into.
The game’s “Road to WrestleMania” mode is delightful. You start off as a rookie and must steadily work your way to the top. You’ll fight numerous wrestlers in hopes of starring in the main event at WrestleMania 2000. The story mode can feel long with the number of matches you must compete in and it doesn’t offer any branching paths.
Nonetheless, the game has some satisfying feuds inserted into its storyline that’ll get you pumped. For a Nintendo 64 game, the graphics aren’t up to par with what you can expect today. However, if you’re a huge retro-gaming buff, this one should satisfy you.
WWE SmackDown! Here Comes The Pain
WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain is an award-winning professional wrestling game. It won the “Best Fighting Game” award during the 2003 Spike Video Game Awards and was nominated for “Best Sports Game” at the 1st British Academy Video Games Awards. This game was praised for its enhanced visuals, many modes, better character customization, and improved game mechanics.
The game’s a successor to WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth. It includes a better grappling system that made attacks feel authentic and fun. This game introduced body damage displays, submission meters, individual character attributes, and ways to break submission holds via the wrestling ring’s ropes.
Long-time wrestling fans also adored the game for introducing the Elimination Chamber as an option for match types. This game features over 50 playable characters and included some wrestling legends to the foray like Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. You could also enter the General Manager’s room to schedule title shots in its Season Mode. If you have an old PlayStation 2 lying around and want a definitive wrestling game to play, this one should be high on your list.
WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2011
This was the last entry of the WWE Smackdown Vs Raw series and it went out with a bang. This game includes many fun modes, a nice customization system, and a great playable roster size. This game introduced a new physics system that made objects feel more realistic to use in battle. For instance, tables can break differently if you place them a certain way and players can rest ladders inside and outside the ring to perform some insane stunts.
Yukes, a prolific developer of the WWE games, brought back players’ ability to throw chairs at each other in this game, too. Some match types received a revamp like the profound Hell in a Cell match type. The cell now had expanded walls, weapons underneath the ring, and a removable cell door. You could also exit the cell in multiple ways to make the matches more engaging.
The game’s WWE Universe and Road to WrestleMania modes are enticing and offer enough content for fans to enjoy. The former includes over 100 cutscenes for you to sit through filled with entertaining banter and commentary. Road to WrestleMania includes some neat mini-quests, backstage roaming segments, and amusing interactions and has you play through several storylines. In addition to the game’s fun customization modes and options, you’re bound to have a blast with this game.
WWF No Mercy
WWF No Mercy is a professional wrestling game that received heavy praise upon its release. This game includes improved graphics, an enticing Championship Mode, and a robust character creation mode. In addition to including gameplay and controls from Aki Corporation’s previous wrestling titles, this game had all it needed to win the hearts of critics and wrestling fans alike.
The game’s not perfect, though. Many criticized it for its jarring graphics and for the AI opponents being too difficult to defeat. Despite releasing in the past, hardcore fans of the title have whipped up mods that make the game feel better than its official product. From graphical and sound overhauls to introducing new playable fighters, WWF No Mercy managed to leave a lasting impression on folks.
If you’re looking for a definitive Nintendo 64 professional wrestling game to play with your friends and family, consider scouting your area for a copy of WWF No Mercy.
Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy
Anime games typically follow the JRPG or traditional fighting game route. Ultimate Muscle is an obscure anime series that many mainstream audiences aren’t familiar with. Despite its obscurity, the series received several games based on its story, characters, and setting. Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy is regarded as a wrestling game that many people didn’t play.
This is saddening considering it’s a wrestling game you’ll have a swell time playing. With its nonsensical characters, compelling gameplay, and amusing commentary, you’ll have a blast defeating your fellow players. It was developed by Aki Corporation, the same team responsible for games like WWF No Mercy and several others.
This game specializes in fast-paced gameplay and features Aki’s incredible grappling and special system. The game boasts multiple modes from story-centric ones to maddening tournaments. Players will feel like they’re defying all logic regarding what these characters pull off in the wrestling ring. However, the game’s AI proposes a challenge for non-wrestling enthusiasts. Nonetheless, if you have a GameCube in your home and are looking for a wacky, cel-shaded wrestling game to play, consider picking this up.
So, there we have it, our pick for the best wrestling video games through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!