System: Nintendo 64
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: December 2000
Capabilities: Up to 4 Players, Rumble & Controller Pak Compatible
Review Date: March 21, 2001
Electronic Arts returns to the N64 with its second wrestling game. This game is a bit different from others, apparently EAs last N64 wrestling outing, WCW Mayhem, was the first wrestling game to feature Backstage Brawling, and it was a hit with wrestling gamers everywhere who were dying for something new in the wrestling genre. And I guess EA liked the whole Backstage part of the last game so much, that it decided to make the sequel just Backstage Brawling, period. This game also happens to be Electronic Arts last game on the N64, succeeding TWINE: 007 by a few weeks. Will this new approach to the genre satisfy the fans, and go make EA Games go out with a bang on the N64 with its last game? Lets get onto the review and find out.
The Backstage areas in the game look great and well drawn out. You got every kind of area in an arena you can think of like Locker Rooms, Trucking Areas, Media Rooms, and even Bathrooms. They all look great and the developers at Kodiak did a good job at creating the most realistic environments out there. The environments are even interactive, like you can rip off the urinal off the bathroom wall and use it as a weapon, or grab a computer from a desk and knock your opponent off with it. You can even climb up on crates and desks, like a turnbuckle in a ring, and give elbow drops and flying splashes on the opponent on the ground.
The animation is really good for most of the moves, and it looks surprisingly more realistic than the moves in WWF No Mercy. The menu screens are nicely laid out and easy to browse through, however, I must say the character select screen is a little confusing at first. The game does have a couple of camera problems in multi player, where if the wrestlers move to far apart from each other, you get this awkward overhead view, which is really hard to maneuver around with. Also, I was disappointed there was no entrances for the wrestlers in the game either. The wrestlers are, nice, big and polygonal, but theres just one problem, and that is their faces and costumes are drawn out very poorly, and about 80% of the real wrestlers costumes and faces look nothing like their real life counterparts. But on the bright side, loading times are just a couple of seconds long before a match (you dont even notice them at first any ways). So the visuals have their ups and downs.
The game has mostly geriatric electric guitar music for its background stuff, and doesnt sound all that bad. Since there are no entrances for the wrestlers, you would think there would be no entrance themes, right? Well, after a match, the victor stands around and poses for about 20-30 seconds while the announcers say how good a match it was, and during that time, some music plays, its usually that guitar music, but for about 10 popular wrestlers, it plays their themes, like Goldbergs Invasion theme, and Nashs Wolfpac theme. Sound effects are pretty good, with most of the kicks and grunts all sounding appropriate. The best part about the sound, however, is the nice smooth running line of commentary from Tony Schivane, and Bobby The Brain Heenan. Not only do they call out practically every move in the game, but they also throw in their own lines of commentary throughout the match, and even though it repeats on occasion, youll never get tired of hearing the Brain say, All the wrestlers want to hear is Gene Okerlund announcing them the winner after the match! The opening intro of the game where Schivane is going insane is also a nice touch.
The controls are really not that bad. The default controls are much like the No Mercy set. You move with the control pad, grapple with B, strong punch or kick with A, and do weak chops and change focus with the C buttons. When in a grapple press a direction and the A, Bottom C, or Left C button at the same time to do a move. You do signature moves when your momentum meter is maxed out, which happens to frequently in my opinion, by getting in a grapple and wiggling the joystick, the exact same way in THQs games. The collision detection is still a little shoddy from Mayhem, but not as bad or shoddy. The only problems I have with the controls, is that at times, I have problems moving around a fallen opponent.
There is no ring at all in the game, which makes me wonder why the heck did Kodiak leave it out? So the game is set throughout an interactive backstage environment, where you can enter and exit certain parts of the arena, and score victories anywhere, by pin, submission, knockout, or under the special stipulations of first blood and torch. Another new interesting concept added in the game is when you nail an opponent with the same weapon 5 or 6 times, it shatters, dont worry about running out of weapons, because theres loads of them and you can always go into a different area for more. Theres also a new shock part in the game where if you use a weapon and hit the weapon out of the hands of another wrestler, you temporarily shock them. And you can also throw weapons at each other like in No Mercy as well.
For game modes, we got exhibition, which is a basic one-on-one match up. In exhibition you can have regular matches, than a special First Blood match, where whoever draws blood first is the loser of the match, and an interesting Human Torch match, where you light a 2x4 on fire from a burning barrel, and whack it on your opponent to light them on fire, and making them lose the match. Those are your only multi player modes, and unfortunately, they are just for two players only. We got two main single player modes, Hardcore Gauntlet, where you try to beat up to 7 opponents with just one wrestler. And Hardcore Challenge, where you move up the ranks and win the Hardcore, US, and World Titles. In both modes you can unlock new costumes, moves, and wrestlers.
The game only has 25 characters at the beginning of the game, and theres about another 30 that need to be unlocked, with the addition of plenty of extra moves and costumes needing to be unlocked as well, so youll be playing the single player modes for a long time. The game also has a create a wrestler, which is way better than the one featured in Mayhem. Lots of depth here, but for some dumb reason, you have to buy moves to add in your repertoire by getting points in the main single player mode. Too bad the game can only be played by up to two players only. This is the first, and last N64 wrestler to do that. And theres not enough other multi player modes to keep you occupied either. Why the hell is there not a tag match in here? Also some type of Cage Match and Battle Royal Matches wouldve been appreciated.
+: The best animation of most of the wrestling games out there, lots of wrestlers to unlock, battling backstage is pretty fun, some of the best commentary of all the N64 wrestlers
-: Poor drawn out designs of the wrestlers, only up to 2 players can play, no ring at all in the game, no special tag team, cage, or battle royal matches
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 5.3
Replay Value: 4.1
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 6
Well, this game has many ups and downs, but the game wasnt as bad as I thought it would be in the first place. The game play is actually quite good, but only if the game couldve had some in ring wrestling and a lot more modes, then this game couldve been great. I strongly suggest renting this game first, or buy it if you see it in the bargain bin.
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