For years, the wrestling game market has been ruled by the WWE. The company has produced critically and commercially successful titles (sometimes) that have managed to engage the fans for hours. They have worked with some of the best video game developers including THQ, Yukes and 2K games. Some of the fan-favorite titles released under the WWE banner are WWF No Mercy (N64), Smackdown 2: Know Your Role (PS1), and Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain (PS2).
Other wresting games exist, obviously - but short of the Fire Pro Wrestling series, none have been able to grab a significant following. TNA/Impact Wrestling came out with a game in 2008 that received mixed to average reviews from the critics, but with no sequel, all the momentum generated by this game died down quickly. The only thing still alive from that game is Suicide - the character, I mean.
WCW and ECW also released some... notable games back in the day. In fact, WCW/nWo Revenge for the N64 is still considered a classic. The same can't be said for the ECW games, however.
NJPW released Wrestle Kingdom and its sequel for the PS2, both of which received positive reviews but, again, there was no follow-up. Recently, Fire Pro Wrestling collaborated with NJPW and released Fire Pro Wrestling World (PC, PS4) which received positive reviews and is worth a try for wrestling fans.
WWE has been going strong with their games, with only a few hindrances during the 2K games era. Their most recent release, WWE 2K20, was a technical disaster. The game angered fans with its glitches and missing game modes. The coming of new wrestling companies like AEW, the resurgence of the NWA, and the rising popularity of NJPW all around the world could very well lead to the development of some great games that could provide some serious competition to the 2K series.
In this article, I will be showcasing three wrestling game concepts that can compete against the current WWE series. Two of these games are being actually being made for real. The other one is a concept of mine that I believe could lead to a great wrestling game in the future. There is also a bonus concept at the end of the list. If these concepts are executed with excellence (puts on Bret Hart sunglasses), they can give WWE and 2K games a run for their money.
Let's do this.
1. In Production: Untitled Game By Virtual Basement (Under Production)
While it's true that AEW have been working on a video game, and Yuke'ss have left the WWE franchise to work on their own wrestling game (part of the reason WWE 2K20 has so many bugs), this one came out of nowhere.
North American game developers Virtual Basement, that are known for their survival game Ark and Citadel, announced that they have been working on their own wrestling title. According to the developers, it will be a hybrid between WWE Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain and WWF No Mercy, along with an innovative touch. As we all know that wrestlers from WWE and AEW won't be able to appear in a game like this, Virtual Basement have still managed to hunt talent from Impact Wrestling, Ring Of Honor (ROH) and the indies.
Virtual Basement promises a roster of nearly 60 wrestlers, out of which 30 have already signed contracts to be in the game. Some of these wrestlers include Brian Pillman Jr., Brian Cage, Matt Sydal (fka Evan Bourne), Bull James (fka Bull Dempsey) and more. The game is said to be made using Unreal Engine 4 that has been used in famous titles like Injustice, Bioshock, and more.
Virtual Basement released some in game models and they are quite impressive. The roster is quite fresh with most of them making their debut appearance in a video game. Let's hope this game features smooth game play and an amazing story mode.
You can check the unveiling of this game in the video below by the game channel Smacktalks to see the models available and know more about the game for yourself.
2. Concept: A Lucha Underground Game?
Lucha Underground was a show that amalgamated wrestling and fantasy to form a perfect blend of entertainment. With engaging storylines, great matches and impressive commentary work by the duo of Vampiro and Matt Striker, the product was something that was never seen before in wrestling.
Lucha Underground ran for four seasons on the El Rey network, with so many gripping story lines that are yet to be unraveled. It is highly unlikely that there will be a fifth season due to the tension between the performers and the management, along with some serious budget issues.
However, if a game were to be made on this series in the future, it would rejuvinate the currently stale wrestling game industry. The unrealistic and unsettling atmosphere of the temple, over the top move sets and characters, and a dramatic story mode would make it an brilliant game.
Imagine fighting inside the Reptile Tribe's kingdom, or somewhere out in the streets with amazing environmental grapples. Imagine Angelico taking flight from unrealistic places right in the middle of the ring. Imagine the match types like Grave Consequences, Hell Of War and a Sacrifice to the Gods mode.
Sadly, this concept might remain unused because of the current condition of the company Many big stars of Lucha underground have left for AEW, Impact and WWE, including the current champion Jake Strong (Jack Swagger). If somehow AAA(they own some percentage of Lucha Underground), manages to pull off a game similar to Lucha Underground, they will cement their legacy in the world of wrestling games.
3. Retro-Mania- By Retrosoft Studios (Under Production)
RetroMania is being touted as "the spiritual successor" of the 1991 arcade game WWF WrestleFest.Technos (the developers of the original) have gone on to record as calling it the official sequel of their classic brawler. This game will feature wrestlers from the revived National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and House Of Hardcore (HOH), along with some other legendary and current wrestlers.
It would capitalize on the retro feel that the modern WWE games have been lacking and would feature strategic gameplay similar to the likes of Fire Pro Wrestling series. According to an article by Wrestletalk, some of the confirmed wrestlers for the game are NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis, The Blue Meanie, Zack Sabre Jr., The Road Warriors and many more. If they manage to include Jim Cornette on commentary, it will bring back some good old memories for the retro wrestling fans.
Bonus concept: NWA Powerr
Another game concept that I want to talk about is an official NWA game based on their television series, NWA Powerrr. This could be a good mix of the retro feel, along with modern-day wrestling. The graphics can be similar to games like Street Fighter II, to give that very mix to the gameplay. With a roster featuring the likes of James Storm, Nick Aldis, Eli Drake and Austin Idol, it will be interesting to see if such a game is made in the future.