WCW / NWO Revenge | Retro Review | Nintendo 64 - TheFamicast.com: Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Friday, January 1, 2021

WCW / NWO Revenge | Retro Review | Nintendo 64

by Danny Bivens

An important step for the "franchise."
1998 was a great year for gaming on the Nintendo 64. Some of my favorite titles (and probably yours, too) appeared on the platform - Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Turok 2, Banjo Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and many others. With that said, Christmas of that year was particularly good for me. While I got my hands on most of the biggest titles of the year, there was one game that I needed to fuel my wrestling loving heart that I also got. Of course, I’m talking about WCW / NWO Revenge. 

WCW / NWO Revenge released on the Nintendo 64 in October 1998 in North America and then in November of the same year in PAL territories. It never saw a release in Japan. Everything about the game was bigger than World Tour. The game boasted over 60 playable characters, more arenas to play in, better visuals, improved gameplay mechanics and more. Like many of you, I was a huge wrestling fan in the late 90s. At the time, I was paying the most attention to WCW. While the story beats started to get a little bit silly, I was still excited to get my hands on Revenge. About a month after the game released in North America, I finally got my chance to play the game for the first time as I nabbed a copy from the rental store. While I had played World Tour with friends, it was great to actually be able to play the newest grappler on my own terms…well, until I had to take it back. Still, like I mentioned before, I did manage to luck out and find this game under the Christmas tree in 1998. 
Just like all of the other AKI developed wrestling games, the patented grapple system makes a return here in Revenge. By pressing A, you can initiate a grapple. From there, you can press A or B in conjunction with a direction on the D-Pad to perform a variety of moves. B on its own dishes out striking moves and of course you can do other things like run, grab weapons from the crowd. By holding A, you can initiate a strong grapple for even more over the top devastating moves to dole out to your opponents. Holding B will also deals more powerful strikes. 

A few other additions like instant replays, being able to slide into the ring while running, taller wrestlers stepping over the top rope, the ability to bring weapons into the ring and the new “combo strikes” bring some new, more realistic elements into the game. Just to touch on the combo system - this is a move set that is limited to a few wrestlers in the game and can be done via a strong grapple. When used, players can press choose to strike their opponents a handful of times. I thought it was kind of neat to see these back in the day, but critics then and now pan the addition as taking away potential moves for the wrestlers. Keep in mind that if a wrestler has this in their move set, it takes away two strong grapple moves. It didn’t really bother me back in the day and it doesn’t really bother me all that much now, honestly.  
Special moves also make a return and see a bit of an improvement. If you manage to get your Spirit Meter to flash Special, it’s just a matter of strong grappling your opponent and then flicking the joystick. The moves in Revenge are more accurately portrayed than with the previous game. You’ll see Booker T slam his foot on fools heads, Jericho will slam his opponent down onto the ground and work into the Walls of Jericho, Goldberg will crush people with his Jackhammer and more. Everything about the special moves and just controls in general still feels good to this day. 

Some of the additions that are found in Revenge were actually added in the Japanese tweaked version of WCW vs NWO World Tour, Virtual Pro Wrestling a year earlier. Things like the on screen 2D referee, the ability to edit costumes (more on that later) and the scoring system after the matches were all found in the Japanese “sequel/re-hash” of World Tour. For more on that, be sure to check out our review of Virtual Pro Wrestling in written or video form). 
Revenge has a few modes to go through - Championship, Exhibition, Special Match, a Costume Change and of course, Options. Exhibition is pretty self explanatory here, but Special Match allows players to try out a Handicap Match or to enter in a Battle Royal Mode. I’m not a huge fan of the Handicap Match (a two on one affair), but the Battle Royal is pretty fun. In this match type, a total of 40 wrestlers can participate, and by default, a ring out means you lose. I’ve always liked this in real wrestling and in games, and here, it’s pretty enjoyable. Sure, there are some cheap ways that you can make sure you win, but having the max four wrestlers in the ring at the same time in an every-man-for-himself scenario is fun. The costume change, a carry over from Virtual Pro Wrestling 64, is obviously not quite a create-a-wrestler option, but you are able to change the outfits and color schemes of the included wrestlers in the game. It’s a cool option to have, but it’s a bit on the limited side. Of course, playing four player matches with friends is where it’s at with any of these AKI developed games. Above everything else, this really adds some serious replay value and will keep you coming back for hours and hours. 

Championship Mode is where most gamers will be spending their time when playing in single player mode. Players can choose between the US Heavyweight,  Cruiserweight, Tag Team, World Heavyweight or TV titles and go through a gauntlet of wrestlers on their way to claim the belt. If you’re playing on a new copy of the game, you’ll need to clear these belts to unlock hidden wrestlers. It’s not quite a “career” mode, but in my opinion it was definitely an improvement from World Tour. The inclusion of the real belts goes a long way to bring this game closer to the real wrestling. I really like how you can actually see the champions wearing the belts on their way to the ring and then you wearing them after you clear the titles. At the time, there was really nothing else quite like it. 
Visuals in Revenge are definitely a step up from World Tour. The wrestlers faces are more life like, and clearer than before. The newly added venues, with more focus on actual events like Monday Nitro, Halloween Havoc and more, are awesome and help make the experience feel more real. Complete ring entrances, from the top of the ramp all the way down to the ring are here as well. Of course this has no bearing on gameplay whatsoever, but I think this is a super important feature to have in a wrestling game. For WCW or the WWF, part of the spectacle of wrestling is the entrance of your favorite grappler or that asshole that you want to see go down. While it’s not perfect here, things like this go a long way to help capture the feeling of the time period and professional wrestling in general. 

Revenge isn’t without flaws, especially when it comes to visuals. The character models suffer from clipping pretty consistently, with arms and legs going through outer wrestlers, the ropes and more. Before I get to my next point, I just want to start by saying that I absolutely love the fact the ring entrances are included here, but whether intentional or just a glitch, ring entrances are somewhat sluggish. It seems kind of stylistic and even more pronounced when you have multiple people making their way down the aisle. Thankfully, these flaws don’t take a way from the gameplay in the slightest. 
Sound is a bit lacking in Revenge. While I think the general action, crowd reactions, and even the occasional one liner from popular wrestlers (Macho Man and a few others) all sound just fine, not having the theme songs for the wrestlers was a little bit disappointing. Of course, there were definitely some technical limitations with the N64, and AKI would later go on to add this into their games on the platform

WCW / NWO Revenge built onto the success that World Tour and really kicked things up a notch. While the first title in the series was missing some aspects that make American Professional wrestling what it is (ring entrances, proper move sets, etc), the developers worked hard to make this game as close to the real thing as they could. Good for us because they succeeded in a big way. While later games will go on to take things even further, you can’t ignore what Revenge did for the series. WCW / NWO Revenge is absolutely (as if there was any doubt) the best WCW game ever created. 
That turns things over to you. Who is your favorite wrestler to use in the game? Do you have a cool story about how you got Revenge back in the day? Be sure to sound off the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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