reviewed on PS3
For many years, the Fire Pro wrestling series has been held up amongst die-hard Japanese wrestling fans as the ultimate wrestling simulation. It was the first game to feature the now mandatory wrestler creation tool, it always had the biggest roster, the most moves, and had a depth no other wrestling game could touch.
Fire Pro games have always been hard to obtain if you don't live in Japan, with only two Nintendo Game boy Advance games being released to the western world. This means that Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on the PS2 is the first time the vast majority of gamers will have been able to sample this unique brand of virtual wrestling, and it's sure to be an eye opening experience.
Upon booting the game, many gamers' first reaction will undoubtedly be of confusion. The title screen is bright, the music is upbeat and almost jazzy – not at all like the dark, moody rock and roll of other games. Even the matches play out to this same style of music – some is catchy, while other tunes are just bizarre. The music can be turned off, leaving the functional, if not overly impressive sound effects.
Also, unlike the competition, the match options are a lot more Japanese in style – there are no ladder, Hell in a Cell or tables matches here. Instead, anybody looking for hardcore gimmicks can get their fix with death matches featuring barbed wire ropes, broken glass, exploding C4 and a cage match. Tag team matches, battle royals, 'team battles' and singles matches also feature, making sure that there is plenty to keep players amused.
If anybody still had any doubts about how 'different' Fire Pro is, they will certainly evaporate upon visiting the character select screen. The first thought will certainly be: “Sprites?”
Yes, the Fire Pro series still uses sprites – gorgeously detailed, chunky sprites, and by default the game comes with 327 of them, based on wrestlers from all over the world. While the wrestlers are given false names (Tattoo being Sabu) they are all recognisable and come equipped with all of their moves, or very close to – this means that AJ Styles has the Styles Clash, and a move that's similar to the spiral tap, while Petey Williams has the Canadian Destroyer. The greatest benefit of this look is it allows for eight man matches that feature absolutely no slowdown, allowing frenetic elimination matches not seen anywhere else.
No Pros and Cons at this time