The seventh generation of video game systems brought with it a number of innovations. Certain consoles fully embraced high-definition graphics, which became the standard moving forward. They also incorporated elements of social media, which made communication via consoles that much easier. These points were true for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, both of which we’ll discuss in the future. However, the Nintendo Wii proved to be a unique beast from the pack, which carried over into the wrestling video games it offered.
The Nintendo Wii
To say that the Nintendo Wii craze was strong during the mid-to-late 2010s would be an understatement. In fact, following its release in 2006, gamers would be hard-pressed to find the system in stores. It became the hot ticket item even after the holiday season, which meant that many people had to wait months to get their hands on it. However, for these people, the wait was worthwhile, as the Wii provided a gaming experience that brought together players of varying skill levels.
The Wii was incredibly simple on the surface, largely due to its main input method. The Wii Remote was more straightforward than the controllers of consoles during the same generation; it was almost skin to the original NES controller but held vertically. Furthermore, many games required less complicated inputs. “Wii Sports,” the title that the system was bundled with, focused heavily on the Wii Remote’s motion capabilities. It was easy enough to swing the remote like a baseball bat, tennis racket, or what have you instead of remembering which buttons to put like traditional games.
The success of the Wii can’t be denied. The Wii sold over 101 million units, handily defeating the technically superior Xbox 360 and PS3. Granted, Nintendo’s home console boasted the least amount of power, which made third party support tricker. Nonetheless, it came with a host of memorable titles ranging from “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” to “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption” to “Super Mario Galaxy” and beyond. When it comes to wrestling video games on the Wii, offerings were just as unique as the console they were on.
Natsume Championship Wrestling (Wii Virtual Console)
In addition to the line of original Wii content, the system came with classic content via the Virtual Console. This served as a platform to sell titles from older consoles, including the NES, Sega Genesis, and even more obscure platforms like Neo Geo. When it comes to wrestling video games on the Wii Virtual Console, “Natsume Championship Wrestling,” which originally released on the Super Nintendo in 1994, is where to look.
The Natsume-developed and published “Natsume Championship Wrestling” is an unlicensed title. The North American version featured 12 original characters; in Japan, the game incorporated stars from All Japan Pro Wrestling. This game required a bit of strategy from players. To pull off moves, well-timed button presses were the name of the game. Players could adjust the difficulty from easy to medium to hard if need be, providing an easier barrier for entry.
Long-time gamers may be surprised that Natsume released a wrestling game. Keep in mind that this is the same company that developed quirky titles including “Wild Guns,” the “Harvest Moon: series, and even a few “Power Rangers” games. Nonetheless, “Natsume Championship Wrestling” is an enjoyable little romp. It’s also currently available on the Nintendo Switch Online service, so if you’re a member, load up the SNES app and give this a try.
WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009
While the Xbox 360 and PS3 saw consistent releases from WWE, the Wii wasn’t left entirely out of the dust. However, to accommodate for the Wii’s inferior power, developer Yuke’s had to rebuild certain aspects. Gone are the HD graphics and presentation, but Wii owners were provided features that other versions lacked. For evidence of this, look no further than “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009,” developed by Yuke’s and published by THQ.
Anyone familiar with the mainline WWE games will know what to expect here. Essentially, it aims to simulate real-life matches, which “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009” does well. However, it also utilizes the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, even outside of bell-to-bell gameplay. Case and point, by using this control configuration, users can interact with entrances and post-match victories, providing a sense of engagement that the other versions lacked.
“WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009” for Wii incorporates other features, too. Its match types have been expanded upon with Cage and Ladder Matches. It also featured online play; while servers have long since been taken down, the fact that Wii owners were provided with multiplayer capabilities ensured that this purchase was all the more worthwhile. For gamers that only had the Wii, “WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2009” was a solid title.
“WWE ’12” was the first instance of the company removing its show brands from its video games. Touted as being “Bigger, Badder, Better,” this title brought with it a few changes, including its sophisticated “Predator Technology” that allowed for more realistic presentation. “WWE ’12,” once again developed by Yuke’s and published by THQ, saw a 2011 release in North America and Europe. In addition to the Xbox 360 and PS3, a Wii version hit store shelves.
Much like the “SmackDown vs. RAW” series that preceded it, “WWE ’12” for Wii doesn’t have the best graphics. Gamers looking for high fidelity would be wise to look at the other console versions. However, the Wii title plays just as well. Modes such as “Road to WrestleMania,” which is broken up into three separate acts, offer plenty of fun. Players can also create their own stars, complete with moves and entrances, not unlike previous WWE titles.
In fact, if anything can be held against “WWE ’12,” it’s that it doesn’t innovate to a tremendous degree. While it dropped “SmackDown” and “RAW” as brand names, there wasn’t much that was new for gamers to sink their teeth into. With that said, “WWE ’12” played well and made use of the technology that the Wii had to offer. If one can find this title on sale at a decent price, either online or otherwise, it’s worth adding to the collection.
The Nintendo Wii may not be immediately known for its collection of wrestling video games, but there was still quite a bit to enjoy. Wii owners were able to utilize the console’s unique controls, or even more traditional options if preferred, to get their fix. Next time, in our ongoing look at wrestling video games from the past, we will take a look at the most memorable titles on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
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