Review by JackVengeance99
An experience for Puroresu fans!
Virtual Pro Wrestling 64 is an import wrestling game for the Nintendo 64 that was released December 18,1997. Even though this game was released a decade ago it's quality and craftsmanship elevate it to a level that makes it highly desirable for fans of Puroresu and worth looking into for gamers.
Due to the fact that the game is a decade old the visuals are acceptable. Most wrestlers are easily recognizable based on their attire and faces. While other wrestlers are harder to distinguish due to the relative blandness of their attire and nondescript faces. While the graphics are outdated they do a sufficient job in relaying the action in the ring and don't detract much from the wrestling experience. The animation in Virtual Pro Wrestling is superb as lariats and suplexes are delivered with a fluid movement on the screen. Fans of Aki games will recognize these animations and should not be anything new to those familiar with the engine.
The gameplay is one of the strongest features of Virtual Pro Wrestling 64. Virtual Pro 64 employs the now famous and fluid Aki engine to deliver an authentic and fluid wrestling experience. The Aki engine for those not familiar is a gameplay engine that has spanned several games (WCW vs. NWO World Tour, WCW vs. NWO Revenge, WWF Wrestlemania 2000, Virtual Pro Wrestling 2, WWF No Mercy). The key feature of the Aki engine is the implementation of Strong and Weak grapples for both front and back positions and strikes. Grapples of a weaker variety (Arm drags, Scoopslams, etc.) are performed via selecting a direction and tapping the A button, grapples of a stronger persuasion (i.e., Powerbombs, Brainbusters,etc.) are implemented by selecting a direction and holding the A button. Strikes are performed in a similar fashion but with the B button. This system provides a multitude of moves at the players disposal and allows a variety of ways to take down your opponent.
Due to the fact that this is an import game a large part of your enjoyment will come from your familiarity with Japanese wrestling and the respective wrestlers. For someone not familiar with Japanese wrestling a majority of the roster may seem bland and rather generic in appearance and with the exception of the WCW wrestlers totally unknown. To fans who are seeking an Aki engine wrestling game with a more familiar roster seek out the WWF or WCW games as they are cheap and more commonly available and provide a similar if not more refined experience primarily WWF No Mercy. I mention the roster as being important to gameplay because to fans of Puroresu this game is a large collection of some your favorite wrestlers from Japan: Kenta Kobashi, Toshiaki Kawada, Shinya Hashimoto, Jushin Liger and countless other wrestlers from various federations and Mixed Martial arts organization. Knowing the roster really adds to the experience and is recommended for those planning on purchasing this game.
(Note: Most of the roster attire except for the WCW and NWO branch is colored differently due to copyright issues. This can be resolved by going into edit mode and editing the color or apparel of the wrestler in question and changing it to it's proper form. Also all wrestlers can be renamed in English. Edit mode only allows you to alter attire and names for wrestlers not create your own.)
The style of the fights in Virtual Pro Wrestling 64 tend to replicate Puro matches very well with the wrestlers being very durable and showing incredible endurance. Most matches can rarely be ended on a single finisher unless the difficulty and stamina is set considerably low. Most matches also rarely end right out of the gate as both wrestlers must seek to wear out their opponent to the point of exhaustion in order to get a pin or submission. The result of this is matches that can go as long as 13 minutes filled with exciting reversals and near falls.
Virtual Pro provides a standard career mode that involves participating in a variety of tournament or league for each federations respective belt. The tournament primarily involves you competing against other wrestlers for points. Points are awarded for winning a match. The person with the most points at the end of the tournament wins the belt. The interesting feature to that is that damage carries over in the tournament so if your previous opponent worked over your arm in the last match, your wrestler will still be holding his arm and be more susceptible to submissions that work over the arm. The same even applies to blood if you were busted open in the last match in your next match you'll still be wearing the crimson mask.
Aside from the career mode Virtual Pro features a 4 man battle royal, Standard tag matches, Handicap matches, Single and Tag Team Tournaments and Leagues, and the 5 on 5 mode. The 5 on 5 mode is great for multiplayer or single play as each player selects 5 wrestlers for their team. They then compete in singles matches with the winner continuing and the loser being eliminated. What makes the mode unique is that damage carries over so it provides strategy to picking the members of your team and order. Do you want to start off with your ace and hopefully take out more of your opponents team before being eliminated? Or do you save your favorite wrestler for the end as your trump card? This mode really adds depth to multiplayer matches and keeps competition exciting. Also VPW keeps Win/Loss records for exhibition matches for every wrestler adding fuel to the competitive fire.
Virtual Pro Wrestling is a great wrestling game and an even better one for fans familiar with the style of wrestling and cast. I highly recommend it as it's a well constructed game that comes together with enough solid features to keep you coming back for more. Even though the Aki engine has been refined in newer iterations such as: WCW vs. NWO Revenge, WWF Wrestlemania 2000, Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 and WWF No Mercy. Virtual Pro Wrestling still deserves merit due to the groundwork it set up for those games, while it lacks some of the comforts of the newer games such as the new positions to perform grapples from and new moves. It provides the core experience just fine even adding some things that fans who've only experience the American games who may have not seen, such as some unique reversals and the roster. In conclusion Virtual Pro Wrestling 64 is a good investment for fans of wrestling games in general and a great investment for fans of Puroresu.
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