Legends of Wrestling: Showdown Review
Legends of Wrestling: Showdown is definitely an homage to the, er, sport designed to appeal to its true fans. There are over 70 wrestlers in the game drawn from the 1970s onward and you’d have to be a serious hardcore fan to think of any wrestlers missing in the game. Just about every WCW wrestler that the casual fan has ever heard of is in the game, Hulk Hogan, The Iron Sheik, Andre the Giant, Randy Savage – the list goes on and on. The developers also put a lot of work into the look of each wrestler and the results are good, with each wrestler bearing a good, although slightly pumped up, likeness of his real-world counterpart. The wrestlers all also have their signature moves, taunts, and styles, further bringing each legend to life. So far it all sounds good, right? Well unfortunately all the time spent on capturing the look and personality of all of the wrestlers came at the cost of time spent developing the gameplay. The sad result is a game that plays rather poorly and is best left to diehard wrestling fans with a lot of patience.
The issues occur with the part of the game which should be the most enjoyable, the wrestling itself. To start things off, there’s the ever present mystery of whether or not the game will register your button press. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it does but with a slight delay. It’s not like it’s as bad as a fifty chance that nothing will happen but it does occur often enough to affect gameplay. When you do successfully make an attack or grapple attempt, you’ll often grab at empty space as either the other wrestler has moved in the time it’s taken the game to register your button press or because the collision detection is just as wonky as the controls. The game also includes a counter system which relies on you pressing X at the right moment. The game even flashes a little window that tells you when to do so. However, a timing-based counter is just about useless when you can’t rely on the timing of the button presses. The counter system should be called “Press X and Pray”. Sometimes even the wrong animation is shown as you watch your wrestler do an identical flop to the one done by the guy you’ve just punched to the mat.
The game attempts to capture momentum in the match by adding a momentum meter below the health meter. When you unleash a successful move or attack on your opponent you gain momentum in your meter. If you’re on the receiving end of the attack, you lose a little instead. If you manage to fill your meter, it becomes easier for you to land attacks and counter your opponents and it enables your wrestler’s signature finishing move. There doesn’t seem to be all that much difference on the meter between landing a few slaps and using a reversal to initiate a brutal slam. You can bring all the momentum to your side by literally kicking your opponent while he is down.