Time to lace up your boots, wrap tape around your fingers and get ready to
rumble. Bam! Entertainment brings us a Game Boy Advance wrestling game that no fan of the
pseudo-sport should be with out. With many grapplers and match types to choose from there
is something for everyone. Not only does this game bring wrestling mayhem, but it also
caters to the fans of Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Fire Pro Wrestling developed by Spike and published by Bam! Entertainment has
been the longest running wrestling series in Japan. Known for its in-depth game play, Fire
Pro has been a major success since its day with the 8 bit Nintendo. With the game making
its way to the US for the Game Boy Advance we now have the most in-depth wresting game for
handheld platforms. The features in Fire Pro Advance can even rival many games already
released on consoles.
The first thing that you might notice is that there is no
licensing of wrestlers or promotions. What licensing really does to a game is add garnish.
It makes the game seem appealing while sometimes trying to cover up flaws in the game.
While there is a definite lack of big name stars, it does not lack in character depth. I
personally have purchased games based on who was represented inside only to find that the
game was unbearable to play.
Fire Pro Wrestling has over 150 wrestlers to choose from and even more that are
unlockable. Many of these wrestlers are patterned after real life grapples. While ditching
their names entirely, Spike has been able to capture their unique fighting styles and
moves. Some of these wrestlers have vague similarities to their real life counterparts.
Some wrestlers that appear (in a slightly changed form) are Kane, Vader, and the Great
Muta. There are even characters patterned after UFC combatants. If you went by initial
appearance, someone could argue that many of the wrestlers are merely the same wrestlers
with a different name. Once past this you will discover there are subtle differences in
their looks. But what makes them different is their personalities, moves and fighting
As if you couldnt find a wrestler to your liking from the
multitude at your disposal, they have added a create-a-wrestler function. Crammed into
this little cart are a variety of attributes. There are many physical features to give
your Frankenstein his own unique look. To ensure that your creation is to your liking, you
can decide on their fighting style. Don't want your finisher to be a piledriver? No
problem, you can change that to a move that is more to your liking. There are over 1200
moves that can be added to your arsenal. Adding all these things together you get quite an
impressive package for a handheld game. Once created, your character starts off pretty
weak and as you defeat more opponents you gain points to increase abilities. Along with
the create-a-wrestler feature, Fire Pro Wrestling also has a create-a-league. With
create-a-league you decide what to name your organization and you can add created
wrestlers into it or acquire them from an existing league.
There are plenty of match styles to keep you busy for weeks. Along with the exhibition
match there are also tournaments, survival, and elimination matches. If these are not
enough for you, there is also a league mode in which you can add up to 64 wrestlers to
compete against. In addition to all those, there is a new audience match. In this you
wrestle matches in select styles and not only try to defeat your opponent, but entertain
the audience. Just pummeling your opponents will get you the win, but the audience will
rate you poorly. Completing this mode will unlock even more wrestlers. If you ever get
tired of fighting the computer, you can recruit up to three of your friends to partake in
a four-way skirmish. You will need a copy of the game for as many players involved,
though. I hoped that there would have been a way to play at least a two player match with
only one copy of the game
Button mashers beware! You will need to learn a little patience
to succeed at this game. Grappling an opponent is done automatically when in close
proximity. Then it is all about timing. Pressing a button too early or late results in the
opponent dealing the damage. Also, if your character performs too many moves in a short
period he will become fatigued an unable to move, leaving him open to attacks. With only
four buttons on the GBA, it's amazing all the moves you can perform.
The visuals are a little disappointing, especially when compared to the other launch
titles. While the ring looks nice and crisp, the wrestlers are blurry in appearance. When
moves are performed you can recognize them, and if there is a move that is a variation of
another the difference can be noticed. Unfortunately, the animation is choppy when your
character is just walking around.
The music can be
quite annoying, but can be turned off, so it is easily overlooked. The sound effects in
the ring bring back fond memories of the digitized wonder of Pro Wresting for the NES,
complete with audience cheers, grunts, groans and the ringing bell. There are even sounds
to let you know how brutal you are. When pummeling an opponent you will hear a woman
scream to let you know when you draw blood.
Fire Pro Wrestling is a great in-depth wrestling game that does not rely on who is in
it. Nor does it rely on what it looks or sounds like. It relies on the most important
thing¾ great wrestling gameplay. There are literally months
worth of wrestling to finish every objective, and the replay value is extremely high given
all the wrestlers and modes. Throw in the multiplayer ability and you have a game that no
fan should be without.