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by Bam! Entertainment

 

Fire_Pro_GBA_toss-01.jpg (7597 bytes)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_GBA_taunt-01.jpg (8259 bytes)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.

Fire_Pro_GBA_jump-01.jpg (9037 bytes)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 philosophy.

Fire_Pro_GBA_land-01.jpg (9699 bytes)As if you couldn’t 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

Fire_Pro_GBA_turnbuck-01.jpg (9750 bytes)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.

FirePro_GBA_backbreaker-01.jpg (9965 bytes)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 thing 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.

Jake Carder   (06/28/2001)

Snapshot

Ups: Over 150 pre-made wrestlers; audience match; create-a-wrestler; 1200 moves.

Downs: Distracting music; blurry character models; multiple copies required for multiplayer.

System Reqs:
Game Boy Advance

 


1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine