It’s amazing to think how far Fire Pro Wrestling has traveled. What started as a PC-Engine game back in 1989 with Combination Tag, it continues to thrive and flourish in a market where only one wrestling game sits atop the mountain each year. The first time fans overseas would truly get to appreciate the greatness that is Fire Pro wouldn’t occur until Fire Pro Wrestling released as a self-titled game on the Game Boy Advance here in North America in 2001. Since then, we’ve only seen three additional entries in the series release on our shores, and we’re about to make it to four.
Title: Fire Pro Wrestling World
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Game Provided By Spike Chunsoft for the Purpose of This Review
There’s a certain charm to Fire Pro Wrestling World that has to be experienced to believe. Harkening back to the Nintendo 64 days of AKI-made games like WCW vs nWo Revenge, Wrestlemania 2000, and No Mercy, Spike Chunsoft has captured that classic wrestling game feel and expanded upon it. While not a robust game in terms of options, it’s the pick-up-and-play game mechanics and pure joy you have when playing that makes it stand out amongst the minimal competition.
Let’s briefly talk about what is included in the game. At the main menu, you’re given a choice to either play online, offline, jump into edit mode, follow the story in Fighting Road, or check out the options. Edit Mode is where you can go in change absolutely every detail about the wrestlers included on the roster. From their personal stats, to the way they look, to their moveset. Everything is customizable. This is also where you can create and add additional people to the game, and because of how in-depth the creation tool is, the sky is truly the limit. I was blown away with how many things were able to be edited, and the layering system really makes the creation tools in WWE 2K look like amateur hour.
At the same time, it’s insanely time consuming. At first glance, the creation tools will feel very generic as you make the most basic of wrestlers. It isn’t until you spend time going through each layer, and the customization options under those, and the further customization options from there. It will take hours upon hours to create your favorite superstars not featured in the game. If you’re just going for something generic, it won’t take long. But for the creative minds and perfectionists out there, prepare to spend a majority of your time in game editing wrestlers.
In terms of different match types, you’ll be able to pick from normal singles matches, cage deathmatches, barbed wire deathmatches, landmine deathmatches, SWA rules matches, gruesome fighting matches, and S-1 rules matches. Yes, the selection isn’t very big and does lean heavily toward the graphic and more violent side, but the blood and violence is handled in a nice way, as it never feels gross or distasteful. Fire Pro has been one of the only wrestling games to feature these hardcore match settings, so it’s still exciting to see them offering these in 2018.
Jumping into a match, the controls are simple to learn but difficult to master. Once you do get the hang of things, it feels deeply rewarding to be able to move around the ring with finesse and entertain the crowd. Grapples are handled automatically by bumping into your opponent. Once locked in a grapple, you can perform a variety of moves by pushing one of three face buttons and a direction pad. On PlayStation 4, it was X, circle, and square. Triangle sends your opponent into the ropes, and the same button can be used to launch your grappler forward toward your opponent during the match.
Much like in real life, barring squash matches, each match will take roughly nine or ten minutes before either wrestler is damaged and tired enough to be covered for the pinfall. During this time, you’ll need to keep executing moves from your arsenal to wear them down, and keep going for the pin or try and lock on a submission hold to get them to tap if submissions are currently enabled in your given match settings. I had a blast just randomly picking wrestlers and jumping into singles matches and the various deathmatches to see what type of random stuff I could pull off. It’s so different from the experience we get each year with WWE 2K, and I say that in the best way possible.
What truly makes Fire Pro Wrestling World shine is the partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling. For the first time ever, Fire Pro features legit wrestlers in the game, with a sizable amount of the NJPW guys available for the picking when selecting a superstar. They also have their individual entrance music, which I wasn’t expecting and was a nice touch! In fact, Fighting Road follows a custom wrestler that you create at the start as he enters the NJPW Dojo and must work his way up the ladder and into a coveted spot on the roster. Along the way, you’ll run into several fan favorites such as Tetsuya Naito, Yuji Nagata, Super Strong Machine, and Hiroshi Tanahashi. The interactions between your created wrestler and the actual stars of NJPW provided enjoyable moments with humor laced in.
This brings me to the some of the complaints I have with the game. The roster selection is very minimal outside of the NJPW selection. Much in the same way Fire Pro has tackled this in the past, there are generic wrestlers that are meant to resemble real world counterparts, but with slightly changed names and attire as to avoid legal ramifications. While there have been rosters that have truly made my jaw drop in the past, this time.. there’s just a handful of options outside of the stars being featured from New Japan.
Also, the physics between heavy and light wrestlers weren’t really balanced. A created light wrestler would have no issues going up against an established heavy wrestler, throwing him around the ring, and easily getting the victory. Even with the difficulty turned up from the average setting, Fire Pro Wrestling World is not all that challenging, and that’s unfortunate.
Overall, Fire Pro Wrestling World is a very Japanese game. I say that with the greatest intentions, as it brings me so much joy to see this game getting a full retail release here in North America and actual promotion. With New Japan Pro Wrestling on the rise and reaching new audiences here in the States, it’s almost as if this entry in the franchise exists solely for New Japan. I’d love to see a game that was nothing but NJPW in the future, and I couldn’t think of a better team to do it than Spike Chunsoft. Until that happens, this will surely please fans of the promotion and fans of the franchise alike!
7.0 / 10