Revisiting Wrestling Video Games (GameCube)

WWE Day of Reckoning 2 Wrestling Video Game

As detailed last time, there were several wrestling video games released on the PlayStation 2. This wasn’t to say that the PS2 was the only console that was inundated with wrestling titles in the sixth generation. Following the Nintendo 64, the company that brought life to “Super Mario” and “Pokemon,” among other series, kicked things up a notch. However, instead of focusing on specs and numbers, Nintendo emphasized innovation with the GameCube.

Nintendo GameCube
Photo / Nintendo

Nintendo GameCube

The Nintendo GameCube was released in Japan and North America in 2001; it would make its way to Europe the following year. To say that the GameCube stood out from its competitors would be an understatement. In addition to a boxy, cube-like, design, the GameCube utilized mini DVD-esque discs as their proprietary format. Ergo, unlike the PS2, the GameCube could not play audio discs or DVDs. Simply put, this colorful cube focused on gaming.

Despite being the lowest-selling main console of the sixth generation, the GameCube enjoyed considerable success. Such titles as “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker,” “Metroid Prime,” and “Super Smash Bros. Melee” helped make it a worthwhile purchase. Its library also featured a number of wrestling video games, some better than others. Here, we will look into a few of the memorable titles and discuss why they are worth revisiting or experiencing for the very first time.

Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation
Photo / Bandai

Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation

To provide some background, “Kinnikuman” – or “Muscle Man” – is a long-running manga and anime series. It focuses on the adventures of Suguru Kinniku, a superhero wrestler who is the prince of the planet Kinniku. This series became incredibly popular in Japan and even made its way to the United States in various forms. As one may imagine, these included video games, though not all of them were winners. This was where “Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation,” which saw a 2002 release in Japan before making its way to North America the following year, shined.

Developed by AKI, the company that worked on the N64 line of wrestling video games, “Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation” proved to be as outlandish as its source material. It was far less grounded than wrestling games based on real-life promotions, as wrestlers could leap tall heights and perform superhuman feats of acrobatics. “Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation” moved fast and didn’t let up.

“Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation” also had its own unique presence, featuring cel-shaded graphics not unlike “The Wind Waker” or “Viewtiful Joe.” The game also offered replayability, with different character stories to play through and unlockables to collect. Don’t let the lack of real-life wrestling presence shy you away from this title. “Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation” is a fun time.

WWE WrestleMania XIX Wrestling Video Game
Photo / World Wrestling Entertainment

WWE WrestleMania XIX Wrestling Video Game

While the PlayStation line of consoles enjoyed the “SmackDown” and “SmackDown vs. RAW series,” WWE didn’t ignore other platforms. In 2002, THQ and Yuke’s released “WWE WrestleMania X8” on the GameCube. It received mixed reviews upon its release. However, its sequel, 2003’s “WWE WrestleMania XIX” will be the focus of this section. Once again, THQ and Yuke’s were at the helm, though the results were more favorable this time around.

With a distinct grappling system and status meter, “WWE WrestleMania XIX” felt almost like an evolution of the aforementioned N64 titles. However, where this game differed from others was its single-player campaign. In lieu of a traditional career mode, “WWE WrestleMania XIX” offered Revenge Mode. As the main character, either a mainline or created superstar, you are fired by Vince McMahon. Later contracted by Stephanie McMahon, you must exact revenge by spoiling WrestleMania. Tasks take place in different locations, from shopping malls to construction sites, providing a different take on the established career mode formula.

Revenge Mode isn’t the only way these areas can be accessed. They can also be played in standard mode, which offers unique possibilities. For example, if a player wanted to take control of “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan to face a young John Cena in a shipping yard, it can be done. To say that “WWE WrestleMania XIX” is a unique entry would be an understatement, but it’s still an enjoyable ride and was followed up by “WWE Day of Reckoning” the following year.

WWE Day of Reckoning 2 Wrestling Video Game

2004 saw THQ and Yuke’s return to the GameCube with the first “WWE Day of Reckoning.” It provided more refined gameplay compared to “WWE WrestleMania XIX,” not to mention a more standard career mode. Instead of fighting through security guards, construction workers, and the like, players could rise through the ranks in WWE. Much like the previous entry on this list, however, it was expanded upon in its successor.

“WWE Day of Reckoning 2,” which released in 2005, featured several improvements over the first entry. Among the changes in question was a deep submission system, which allowed players to execute holds with different results. Case and point, a rest hold would drain an opponent’s stamina, whereas a taunt submission would decrease their momentum. This new system offered a new layer of strategy, forcing players to consider every maneuver they made.

The story mode of “WWE Day of Reckoning 2” is a direct follow-up to its prequel. Having lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Triple H, the player would have to work their way back up the rankings. From there, the story would take different turns, from theft to redemption. “WWE Day of Reckoning 2” can be considered the best-aged wrestling video game on the GameCube. For those that only have time for one title on the list, make it this one.

Though the GameCube may have come up short during this generation of gaming, it provided different experiences compared to its peers. The wrestling games discussed here are proof. However, when it comes to the generation in question, we have one final console to focus on. Next time, we will dive into wrestling video games on the original Microsoft Xbox.

Check out past entries from the “Revisiting Wrestling Video Games” series!

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.

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