Company: Technōs Japan
Controller: Joystick with 2 buttons.
Other Names: Exciting Hour – The Prowrestling Network.
Middle 80s, wrestling is a mix of sports and show whose popularity is increasing in many markets thanks to the television. And as the videogame technology was improving, the videogames about wrestling were more commonplace.
Japan is one of the countries big enough where a company can develop a game of this genre. After a first try with a game getting barely good results Technōs Japan and later tries again with a more improved version, getting more success when providing different wrestlers with particular moves.
There were already previous videogames of wrestling, but they lacked the visual definition of the virtual wrestlers in this one, alongside the clear distinction between styles, which was the main attraction of the videogame.
The atmosphere of the videogame is great. First, every match is announced by a very enthusiast guy who probably is the manager of the virtual wrestler controlled by the videoplayer. This guy is really funny.
Then, the ring. It looks like a sellout, and there are quite a handful of recognizable faces between the public. Part of the fun of the game is finding the different celebrities seated at the ringside. Then a really watchful referee, which really loves its job because is never far from the action. Finally, there is a camera guy and a reporter following the action inside the ring from the sidelines.
The videoplayer can only use an archetypical babeface wrestler (probably inspired in Dynamite Kid) with a nice variety of moves from the common to the devastating. If the virtual wrestler is far from the rival it will throw a punch or a kick, depending the button, but if enough hits are connected, the rival is open for receive a nice move.
This is because the moves can only be applied when both virtual wrestlers grapple, and one can successfully apply a headlock to the other. If the rival is in the floor after receiving punches or kicks, one button is used to pick it up and from there trying to apply a move, or using the other button, trying to pin it and obtain the 3 seconds count. Be careful, because if the rival is not weakened enough, the pin will fail. It’s possible to climb the turnabout and jump over the fallen rival. Also, the videoplayer can throw the rival out of the ring with some moves.
Between the moves available:
|From a Headlock||Sending to the ropes|
|Body slam||Trying to pin with a jump|
Every move can be executed pressing a different combination of button and moving the joystick in a direction. Just like other entries, I highly recommend that part of the fun in the game is finding what can be done in every combination. You have to consider that certain moves can only be applied when the virtual rival is weak enough, but the same can do the virtual rival to you. So, when you see the rival applying certain moves to you, worry, because it’s very probable your virtual wrestler is weak enough to be pinned down and it’s game over. This is because every match is to win a fall, and the game is over when the virtual wrestler is pinned down or counted out when outside the ring. Also, consider that you have a certain amount of time to win the match, if not, it’s also game over.
It’s possible matches of two human platers, but they take alternate turns (it does not matter the winner of the match), do not fight each other, that became a feature in the next iteration of the videogame.
In the videogame, the player will face 5 possible foes, if the videoplayer defeats the last one becomes champion and will defend its title against the same rival (now facing them in different order, and with increased difficulty) until it loses a match.
|Insane Warrior. Called Insane Warrier in the japanese version, and it’s a thug with the popular, by then, look coming from the movie Mad Max II. It’s the typical easy rival from the beginning of the game, so the virtual player can familiarize with how to play it. So, if you can not beat this dude, forget your chances defeating the others. Its selection of moves is very limited, but if he does a Gorilla Press on you, worry, because you are very weak, and the move can deal great damage.||Member of the Road Warriors.|
|Karate Fighter. Fighter inspired in the “martial artist” gimmick really popular at the time. Its repertory is also limited, even if its flying kick can be considered cheap. It’s a bit faster than the previous one, but also easy to defeat.||The Great Kabuki, even if it looks like a bit like Bolo Yeung.|
|Coco Savage. Called Coco Savege in the japanese version. Here the difficulty rises quite sharply, because this dude can hit really hard and is a lot faster. So, if he can land a punch on you, it will be hard to get out of his flurry of hits. This is balanced because you need to apply less moves to beat it than the previous two guys. I hate it.||Bobo Brazil and Koko B. Ware.|
|The Pirania. Inspired in the masked luchador from Mexico, but as a good heel is a cheater one, using illegal moves like googling eyes or grab from the considerable amount of hair of the virtual wrestler and hitting its stomach. It’s slower than the previous guys, hits harder, but it can only endure a bit more than Coco Savage.||Mil Máscaras. Specially his “shark” mask.|
|Golden Hulk. Called Blues Bloody in the japanese version, and Perro Aguayo in my hometown. It can be considered the final boss: he is the strongest, hits harder than everybody else and can endure a lot more punishment. It’s “balanced” by being the slowest one. It’s an impressive sight when it applies a body slam using one arm only. If he starts hitting you with a legdrop, you’re in deep trouble unless doing a legendary comeback.||Hulk Hogan y Bruiser Brody|
OK, probably was considered an ambitious effot to port all of the features to a home console. Remember that the technical differences between arcade and home consoles were huge. The conversion could be done, specially when a year later a videogame for a home console with a variety of wrestlers and moves was released for Nintendo consoles.
So, when in 1989, seeing that the Atari 7800 console could not handle all of the features of the arcade, was highly disappointing. Actually, only two wrestlers appear Hurricane Joe and Dynamite Tommy, without the other ones. This exposed in an ugly way, the limitations of that console.
Which is a bit sad, because the videogame is good, but if released sooner, probably would get better reviews.
There was a sequel the following year, called Mania Challenge, which allowed two human players facing each other. But this feature had a cost, in my opinion, quite high, which will be mentioned later.
One change is that finally the virtual wrestler controlled by player one now has a name: Dynamite Tommy. Meanwhile, the controlled by player two, it’s called Hurricane Joe. Both stars are practically identical, only the color of their wear is different, and they have the same amount of moves.
As mentioned, this came at a cost: now any videoplayer can only face two of the previous rivals: Insane Warrior and Golden Hulk, being the third rival the wrestler not controlled by a human. Example: if the videoplayer uses Joe, it will face Tommy. This cycle will repeat itself until the videoplayer loses a match.
I think this is a total failure, and it looks like the fans also though that, because MatMania is mentioned a lot more times than this sequel.
There was another legacy: Technōs Japan developed other videogames oriented to fighting in the future, and the sprites used for characters in those games are clearly inspired by these ones. In the classic Renegade it’s quite notorious.
This videogame was very funny in my hometown. Many of us were not able to beat Coco Savage at first, but eventually were able to, and face the final two, which was surprisingly easier to beat.
We were a bit angry that the masked luchador was used as a cheater one, and I admit, it was a pleasure to beat it.
Console Icons taken from Retroarch.