Released just in time for Wrestlemania weekend, SNK and Code Mystics have dropped with little fanfare the Neo Geo Pocket Color’s only wrestling game. Despite the name, it doesn’t have Sheldon or Leonard playable; it’s Big Bang Pro Wrestling.
It All Started with a…..
Released in Japan exclusively in 2000, Big Bang Pro Wrestling seemingly had a full English translation on the cart making it the perfect candidate for an obscure addition to the Neo Geo Pocket Selection which is seemingly well into Phase 2 now.
Big Bang Pro Wrestling is set in the fictional Wrestling Federation of IEW. This is where you step into the trunks of one of ten wrestlers ready to try and dethrone Josef Steele as IEW Champion.
Being this is a game about the ancient art of grappling and tossing each other around a square “ring”, the story is condensed to opening text at the start of each wrestler’s IEW ladder and a few throwaway lines before a match. It’s a promo if you will, for you marks out there.
The gameplay in Big Bang Pro Wrestling follows the “Fire Pro Wrestling” style of controls. It’s based on automatic grappling and moves pulled off with timing. This is no surprise due to the Neo Geo Pocket Colour’s lack of buttons.
In theory, this is a good way to go. Unfortunately, much like the previously mentioned title, it renders strikes awkward due to the distance grapples activate from and trying to line up correctly with your opponent.
When you grapple, you have to press the attack button or taunt button at the correct time, alongside a direction. This lets you perform a wrestling move such as a Powerslam or hip toss.
Special moves require you to be dominating the match. Your wrestler’s name will start to flash and you’ll be able to activate it, culminating in a flashy scene and usually the win.
Again this is identical to “Fire Pro Wrestling”, except for one thing. Try as I might, I never consistently managed to nail the timing. It just always felt incredibly off to me.
In terms of gameplay modes, there isn’t a whole lot outside of the IEW Championship mode which is your main story/arcade mode. The only others are exhibition matches for a quick burst and a VS mode for local multiplayer grappling. Match types are standard 1 vs 1, a coffin match where you have to throw your rival into a coffin, and a money match where you climb a ladder and pull down a sack of cash.
Outside of that, you have 2 wrestlers to unlock. One is unlocked through completing the IEW route and another unlocks after having a save game for a month.
Limousine-Riding, Jet-Flying, Son of a Gun.
Visually Big Bang Pro Wrestling is a retro treat. It goes to show just what SNK were capable of with the little color handheld device.
The lack of wrestlers allowed the developers to make each character sprite unique with a cheeky nod to whichever wrestler they were mimicking.
Each wrestler is animated brilliantly and the introductions have some of the finest sprite art around. Even more so when you activate the wrestler’s special move and get treated to some classic anime art.
The stages have a decent bit of detail as expected from SNK. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more of them or some wildly over-the-top ones. It’s just your basic arenas full of fans.
Big Bang Pro Wrestling is a curiosity from the Neo Geo Pocket Color. While it looks nice, it hasn’t aged quite as well as previous releases on the Neo Geo Pocket Colour Selection Volume 1 or the more recent SNK vs Capcom: Card Fighters Clash.
This title is more for die-hard fans of the console or someone struggling for a wrestling fix on the Nintendo Switch, though there are alternatives such as Arcade Action Wrestling. Sadly this game is more Legend than Heavyweight Champion of the World.
WAIT FOR SALE ON BIG BANG PRO WRESTLING
Many thanks goes to SNK for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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