Revisiting Wrestling Video Games (Nintendo DS Family)

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WWE All Stars for Nintendo DS
Photo / THQ

The vast majority of wrestling video games that fans remember are found on home consoles. As we covered weeks ago in the Game Boy Family segment of this series, however, it’s clear that the portable market wasn’t left out. Though many of these games were watered down interpretations of their home console counterparts, others proved to be worthwhile. In this edition, we will touch on some of the most memorable wrestling games found across the Nintendo DS family of systems.

Nintendo DS
Photo / Nintendo

The Nintendo DS Family

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Game Boy family is that it persisted until 2003. It lasted throughout multiple home console generations, but at the turn of the New Millennium, it became apparent that the hardware was aging. The Game Boy Advance was popular, to be certain, but it simply called for an update. Instead of building upon its legacy with another Game Boy system, Nintendo opted to introduce a new pillar to its handheld efforts.

Enter the Nintendo DS, which was released in Japan and North America in 2004. Designed with greater processing power and memory, the DS caught everyone’s attention. Its main feature was its dual-screen structure. When unfolded, the clamshell-shaped DS would present a screen on the top half and another screen on the bottom half. This unlocked new possibilities for gaming, not only for Nintendo but other companies as well. It also saw different revisions, including the DS Lite, which was a smaller, sleeker version of the original.

Nintendo 3DS
Photo / Nintendo

The DS became the second best selling video game system of all time, having moved over 154 million units worldwide. It also boasted a long line of software, including “New Super Mario Bros.,” “Brain Age,” and various additions to the “Pokemon” series. The DS was backward compatible as well, able to play Game Boy Advance games. The latter addition made the DS the perfect console for transitional purposes, as it ensured gamers didn’t have to completely abandon their older games.

In the years that followed, the Nintendo DS took on other forms, including the short-lived DSi in 2009. However, the next true sequel would come only two years later. The Nintendo 3DS saw a worldwide release in 2011. Its major innovation was the use of glasses-free 3D, which was incredibly popular at the time. Despite this, the 3DS struggled to see success out of the gate. Once the system’ss price was cut from $250 to $170, and new games were released, momentum changed in its favor.

The 3DS wasn’t short on well-received software, either. From “Mario Kart 7” to “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” to the first “Super Smash Bros.” on a portable platform, the 3DS was well-supported. Altogether, the DS and 3DS boasted an incredible library for handheld gamers. This library also included a number of wrestling video games, some being more memorable than others. Without any further ado, let’s take a look back at some of the wrestling titles across the DS family of systems.

TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line
Photo / Midway

TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line

When IMPACT Wrestling was known as Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, they found themselves in the video game sphere. One of the wrestling video games they released was simply titled “TNA IMPACT,” which made its way to various home consoles. It also saw a portable release on the original DS in addition to the Sony PlayStation Portable. This was titled “TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line,” which was distributed by Midway and saw a 2010 release.

As was customary for many DS games, “TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line” made use of the touchscreen for different inputs. For example, if your wrestler was in danger of tapping out, you would have to use the touchscreen to break the hold. This helped the game stand out, but unfortunately, the game was poorly received from a gameplay standpoint. Many players remember the game for being difficult to control or movements failing to register when they should have.

Furthermore, “TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line” lacked the high-end graphics of its console counterparts. The DS was more limited than the PlayStation 3, for example, but wrestler models and arenas appeared low-res and unappealing to look at. It was a barebones release as well, only including a few gameplay modes. While “TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line” may not be the worst wrestling video game ever, it’s certainly the least recommended that can be found on the DS.

WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2010
Photo / THQ

WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2010 for Nintendo DS

While the “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW” series graced Sony consoles, it also featured a number of portable titles. The ones on the DS, not unlike “TNA IMPACT: Cross the Line,” were heavily influenced by touchscreen controls. While there were a few entries on the list, it would be the final WWE game on the DS, “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2010,” that proved to be the most refined. This particular title was released in 2009 and was developed by Yuke’s and Tose, the latter company having developed such games as the “Game and Watch Gallery” series.

With a total of 30 WWE Superstars and nine match types, “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2010” was surprisingly stacked for a DS wrestling video game. It also included an Ambulance Match, which was a brand-new addition for the time. It’s important that, in previous entries, players were forced to use the touchscreen for different inputs. This release allows players to fully customize their controls, meaning that they can play entirely with buttons. As such, “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2010” provided a traditional experience that was well-received.

Throw in a surprisingly deep Story Mode and it’s fair to say that “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2010” is the best wrestling experience on the DS. There isn’t much in the way of touchscreen gimmicks if the player chooses. Simply put, it’s about as faithful of a home console recreation as one would expect on inferior hardware. Check this one out if you’d like to see one of the bright spots in sports games on the DS.

WWE All Stars

“WWE All Stars” originally released on the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and PSP in early 2011. It was incredibly different from WWE’s mainline games, as it featured exaggerated character proportions and maneuvers. However, it’s arcade-like gameplay made it a favorite among fans. Several months later, it received a 3DS release, and while it may not have looked as good as the home console releases, it can be argued it was the best overall package.

There was no expense spared in “WWE All Stars” on the 3DS and it even included other goodies. As was the case with prior releases, the 3DS version came with all preexisting modes, including Create-a-Superstar, Fantasy Warfare, and Path of Champions. In addition to all the DLC, this release offered unique Score Scramble and Gauntlet Modes. For being the only wrestling video game on 3DS, the lone wolf in the genre offered plenty of value.

“WWE All Stars” offers glasses-free 3D as well, though it isn’t the most reliable. Case and point, if the 3D is turned on after the final match in Path of Champions, the entire system locks up. Needless to say, play with 3D enabled at your own discretion. Despite this hiccup, “WWE All Stars” remains a highly enjoyable game. For those that are looking for more fast-paced titles compared to traditional WWE releases, this is worth a shot.

With the success of the Nintendo Switch, we may not see another entry in the DS family of systems again. After all, the Switch has been successfully promoted as a home and portable hybrid, able to be played on the couch and while out and about. However, the importance of these dual-screen systems can’t be ignored. Next time, we will continue our look at wrestling video games on portable systems by taking a dive into the PSP.

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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