Retro Game Reviews

Retro Review: WWF Smackdown!

WWF Smackdown, THQ

Wrestling has been around for a long time, and the games have been around for quite some time as well, some good, some bad and some excellent. Surprisingly enough, the PlayStation and N64 era had some of the best and most memorable Attitude Era games ever. These are the games that stuck with you and I simply can’t wait to enjoy them to let every younger gamer know what they missed; both in the sport and in the games. WWF Smackdown! was one of the better titles on the PlayStation system, the game was developed by Yuke’s Media Creations and published by THQ in March of 2000. Yuke’s is still making the WWE wrestling games so every year we can see where they have improved upon the genre and in seventeen years there has been plenty of improvement; not to say that this title is bad by any means.

(WWF Smackdown! - THQ)

(WWF Smackdown! – THQ)

When I popped this into my PlayStation I was actually pretty surprised about the amount of content that came on this small disc. After being mesmerized by the Attitude Era vignettes and music there is a huge menu for you to dabble with. There is “Create a Superstar,” “Exhibition,” “Create a PPV,” and finally “Season.” These all open a doorway to quite possibly the best era of wrestling ever, which makes me grin. I remember watching Raw with my buddies in college and then playing games like this on the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation. I cannot remember if this was a title that we ever played, but either way, the game took me back and I got a little misty-eyed because of it. I can’t image what will happen when I start to play the N64 games again to review for you all. Enough down memory lane, let’s get to talking about all things wrestling.

I promptly chose “Create a Superstar,” which took me to another sub-menu that allowed me to see Belt Records, Rankings and the obligatory Options menu. I ignored all but “Create a Superstar” seeing as I hadn’t even played a match yet, and definitely hadn’t won a belt yet. I went about trying to create a 32-bit version of myself but didn’t fare too well, there were limits seventeen years ago, and being able to make your own face in a game was still pretty difficult. I flipped through all the heads and none of them really looked like me seeing I don’t resemble an Attitude Era wrestler, so I settled for a Mankind mask, some pants, and a shirt and created my Superstar.  I’m also currently playing WWE2K13 right now I really noticed how far the Create a Superstar has come, in a paltry seventeen years Yuke’s has almost perfected the Custom Superstar. I took my Superstar and went into “Exhibition,” this is where you can create all types of custom matches, ones with your Superstar or ones with Attitude Era wrestlers. The list of matches you can engage in is quite overwhelming, single match, tag match, handicap, battle royal, royal rumble, King of the ring, hardcore, anywhere fall, cage match, survival match, special referee and finally I quit. This is the part when you invite your friends over, grab a multi-tap and wrestle the night away, digitally.

(WWF SmackDown! – THQ)

I then wanted to become Vince and decided to set up my own Pay Per View, which sadly wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be, I could only find three arenas to hold my PPV and they weren’t too exciting. There are plenty of wrestlers to choose from though, so you could go the route of WrestleMania 2 and film your PPV from three different arenas. This area of the game was boring to me, while it is fun setting up a whole bunch of special matches in succession to play through, I’d rather just fight my way through the Pre-Season and Season. This could be fun if you had a buddy over or some siblings to battle with during the PPV event, with some cool bets going on. I probably spent the least amount of time with this part of the game because I just wanted to kick some ass and drink some Pabst.

Seventeen years ago video games contained mystical items, one of them was called a manual. These amazing manuals would hold tips for the game, hints, and even the controls. As I stepped into my first match against Vince McMahon I had no idea what buttons to push or how to punch him, needless to say, he wiped the floor with me. I went and got my manual and figured out what I needed to do to put Vince in his place, as Mankind I kicked his ass and took names. So here’s a quick rundown of the controls in case you don’t get a manual with your copy, Circle is grapple moves and X is melee the move differs with which way you are pressing on the D-pad. If you press to the right and hit X your character will chop your opponent and so on. Triangle is run from rope to rope so you can set up a nice move, L2 is taunt and R2 is enter and exit the ring, it also gets you onto the top rung to jump on your foe. Square is block, but if you’ve played the newer games this button is almost useless, there is no reversal here on Smackdown!

(WWF SmackDown! – THQ)

I spent a majority of my time in Pre-Season and Season because I had no friends to invite over for a Royal Rumble and when I asked my dad to play he just gave me this “are you really my son” look. Season was insanely fun for a loner like me, I got to enjoy the WWE experience and take down some of my heroes in the ring. I also got to fight alongside them as well. The only drawback in the Season option is really the graphics, they are blocky as all hell and you can only tell who the wrestler is if they are staring right at the screen, other than that they are a blurry mess. That takes nothing away from the enjoyment of running a character through Smackdown! Sometimes you may not be able to tell that you are fighting The Rock, but once you suplex him the confusion goes straight away. Some people are turned away by the 64 to 128-bit graphics but don’t be, this is an early wrestling masterpiece and should be played by any fan, current or past. I can’t wait to continue digging into these older wrestling games more and more.

 

 

 

WWF Smackdown!

WWF Smackdown!
90

Score

9/10

    Pros

    • Classic Attitude Era wrestlers and storyline
    • Create a Superstar has more in it than I thought, but I still couldn't fully digitize myself.
    • A full roster of wrestlers
    • Lots of content and match types

    Cons

    • Graphics have not aged well
    • Controls are tough and only availiable in the manuel
    • Not a lot of arena variety
    • Would be more fun with friends, not a great solo experience

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