Friday, August 18, 2017

Nostalgia: Retro Cheats and ‘Wrestlers In Need’

The WWE brand is now completely and thoroughly dominant when it comes to high-octane sports entertainment, but it was not always thus. Heralded as a transitional era of wrestling, the mid-1990s to early-2000s was a veritable hive of activity. For the WWE, much of that period was concerned with competing against the WCW for ratings every Monday night. Other organizations, including the hardcore-specialist ECW brand, also had more of a presence.

With such a volatile scene unfolding, it stands to reason that the fight for dominance extended into video games. This is especially true when a wrestling fan considers that the 1990s also oversaw a drastic evolution of the norm, from simple two-dimensional, monochrome wrestlers to fully-rendered representations of real-world stars. Though marketing campaigns to promote the games of the WWE and WCW also grew in importance, the most fundamental element of marketing has always been (and always will be) word-of-mouth. One way to ensure that this was constant and ever-growing amongst the target demographic was to include an array of weird and wonderful cheats, to enhance the gaming experience and ensure that they stood the test of time.

Fondly remembered by a now-aging generation, these cheats have gone down in history as a significant cornerstone of the genre. There are also certain athletes within the present-day roster that would also benefit greatly, if they were to be a part of the real world!

The original WWF Smackdown! game broke new ground in Y2K and was an instant hit.

WWF Royal Rumble (Sega Genesis/SNES, 1993)

One of the first games to have licensed themes and be named after a specific event, this game introduced a new system of in-game grappling to the world. When grappling, a meter would appear next to the wrestler’s life bar to indicate how close the player was to pulling off a move. This was particularly crucial for Royal Rumble matches when grappling by the ropes.

Fortunately, for those who found themselves hurtling over the top rope and onto the unforgiving arena floor, simply pressing all of the main buttons (i.e. A+B+C on the Genesis) simultaneously would enable the player to re-enter the Royal Rumble.

Wrestler(s) most in need of that cheat today: Eighteen years after his debut, Chris Jericho is still without a triumph in the Royal Rumble and would likely represent a waste of a bet if backed to win the next Royal Rumble. Betfred does have £60 in bonuses on offer though according to the Oddschecker website, meaning that Jericho could be backed risk-free. Kane is also winless in the Royal Rumble.

WCW vs NWO: World Tour (N64, 1997)

Prior to the launch of the N64, wrestling games were all about the power bar. With World Tour came a fighter’s ability to perform was instead based on a ‘spirit’ meter, which grew with successful moves and shrank when damage was taken. As a result, players were forced to time their moves shrewdly, and only once the bar had grown to maximum proportions (indicated by the word ‘SPECIAL’) could a finisher be applied. As an N64-exclusive title, up to four players could also fight simultaneously, cementing its status as a revolutionary classic.

Those in the know, before the advent of widespread game cheat sites, would be able to increase their chances of kicking out of a pin simply by holding the analog stick up.

Wrestler in need: The more casual wrestling fan would be surprised to learn that (ahead of Summerslam 2017) John Cena has in fact lost in his last six appearances at the event. With just a little more ‘spirit’, John Cena can stop his August slumps.

With a massive roster, fully-rendered sprites and a revolutionary ‘spirit’ system, World Tour remains fondly remembered over two decades after its initial release.

WWF Smackdown 2: Know Your Role! (PSX, 2000)

Know Your Role! was released in November 2000, just eight months after its predecessor, with the original game still considered the ‘watershed’ entity of the genre by many critics. The Smackdown! series expanded further on the existing opportunity for creativity, by allowing players to swap wrestlers between divisions and simulate full ownership of the franchise in that respect. There was also a new ten-year career mode, which cemented its status as one of the best sellers over the Christmas of Y2K.

For those without the patience to slog through ten ‘years’ of hard graft, there was a cheat by which a player could be granted an automatic title shot. All the player must do is start a career mode, then quit back to the main menu. They must then swap all but the wrestler they selected out of the division and into “others”, and then put them back into the division. The wrestler they selected will be ranked #1 on the resumption of that career mode save and immediately get a title shot.

Wrestler in need: Seen by most as the standout star of NXT, Sami Zayn is a good all-rounder, and thus has the ability to adapt to most WWE storylines. However, only by winning a mid-card title shot can he make the step up from next-generation talent to fan-favorite on Raw.



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