Hey folks, it’s time again to get impossibly nerdy and talk wrestling and video games all at once. As I mentioned in the debut Game vs. Reality article, wrestling games were once locked into covering a specific, narrow chunks of whatever promotion they had managed to license — a game that came out around Christmas might, if you were lucky, be based on the characters and storylines from the first three-to-six months of that year.
So, rather than simply reviewing old wrestling titles, I’m going back, comparing the wrestling game to the specific time period it was covering, and declaring an ultimate and definitive winner. The soul-wrenching decisions continue…
Before we begin, make sure to hit those share buttons! This feature did some good business last week — let’s keep it up!
ECW Hardcore Revolution (N64, PSX & Dreamcast)
The 32/64-bit era of video games just happened to perfectly coincide with one of the most exciting and eventful eras in wrestling history. When the N64 debuted in 1996, the NWO had just debuted and WCW was on top of the world, and by the time Nintendo released their next console in 2001, WCW was dead. WCW and WWF’s struggles were mirrored in their video games — early in the N64/Playstation era, WCW’s games were being produced by the rock solid tag-team of THQ and developer AKI Corporation, while WWF’s games were in the sticky hands of infamous video game scumwads Acclaim. As WWFs fortunes began to rise and WCW’s plummeted, WWF allied with THQ, WCW formed a misbegotten stable with EA, and Acclaim, well, they decided to form a Heath Slater and Titus O’Neil-esque team with ECW.
Now, back when WWF was still with Acclaim, I insisted their games were better than WCW’s. I couldn’t really tell you why — I wasn’t even a WWF guy in the late-90s. I think I mostly just did it because my brother insisted on the superiority of games like WCW vs. NWO: World Tour and WCW/NWO Revenge. Of course he was right, and I’m a big dummy, but some of you folks already knew that.
If anybody links my brother to this article, I’ll kill them.
So, when Acclaim rebounded from their break-up with WWF with an eager-to-please ECW, I was right there in their corner, cheering this new union on. I wasn’t completely blind though — even back in 2000 I had some serious misgivings about ECW Hardcore Revolution, and after playing it up more recently I have some serious misgivings about my early 2000s mental state. How did I manage to play this for more than 15-minutes?
The Acclaim games never lacked in options for the minutia-obsessed brain, packing in tons of match types, modes and a create-a-wrestler that gave you more control over your wrestler’s physical appearance than the AKI games. Unfortunately, once you hit the ring Acclaim’s games were as pleasurable as hot oatmeal burps. The characters paradoxically seemed to have no weight or substance, and yet moved like they had a concrete dump in their pants. Rather than using the simple grappling system of the AKI games, Acclaim’s games used a fighting game, “pound every button on the controller twice to do a bodyslam” approach, that essentially turned their wrestling games into the world’s clunkiest version of Mortal Kombat. ECW Hardcore Revolution did nothing to spruce up the core Acclaim wrestling engine — if anything, it descended further into disarray, with a lot of the wrestlers’ movesets only vaguely resembling their real-life counterparts.
Thankfully 90% of the guys in ECW just had a DDT for a finisher.
Also, it was OH MY GOD obvious ECW Hardcore Revolution was just a WWF game with a shabby new coat of paint. For instance, despite the fact that ECW mostly took place in a handful of bingo halls and warehouses in and amongst Philadelphia, Hardcore Revolution’s career mode had you travelling the country, taking on Joe Journeyman and Hank Ham and Egger from the great Atlantic Ocean to the wide Pacific shore. They even created a fourth championship for career mode called the Acclaim Belt because ECW only had three titles, but the career mode in Acclaim’s WWF games had four titles to chase. The game was ripe with this kind of zero effort sh*t.
On the plus side, I did trade this game in for Wrestlemania 2000, so you could say it initiated a pretty hardcore revolution in the quality of wrestling cartridges in my N64.