There have been many 3D polygon wrestling games made in the past for the Playstation and N64. However, they've always been lacking in something, either the speed, or realistic animation. Sure the name of that character was Hulk Hogan, but the character didn't move like the namesake, but rather a robotic imitation. What good is it to play as The Great Muta, when you look like you're sleepwalking half the time, with mannequin-like stiff movement. But fear not wrestling fans, once again, Sega to the rescue with the most realistic, fast paced 3D wrestling game to date, All Japan Pro Wresting Featuring Virtua!!! This is Sega's first stab at a 3D polygon wrestling game, and as usual, it sets a standard that's sure to be imitated no doubt! As the name of the game implies, there's cameos by characters from the Virtua Fighter universe: Jeffry and Wolf!!! The majority of the 12 grapplers you start out with are Japanese, but they will be very recognizable to any wrestling nut like me who reads the magazines:Giant Baba: this 60 year old Japanese legend is the owner of All Japan! A former NWA world champion, he has a boot to the face move that takes massive energy!
Mitsuhara Misawa: The current All Japan Triple Crown Champion! And it's not hard to see why!! Some punishing powerbomb moves!Toshiaki Kawada: One of my favorites, an excellent mixture of wrestling and vicious martial arts kicks!
Akira Taue: This former Sumo Wrestler has some devastating chokeslams! Awesome power!Kenta Kobashi: A devastating double-underhook DDT and stinging multiple chop combination!
Jun Akiyam: This high-flyer has some cool top rope moves and energy draining suplexes!Stan "The Lariat" Hansen: Once the famous "Bad Man from Borger Texas" catches you with his "Lariat" finisher, it's light's out!
Steve "Dr. Death" Williams: One of the strongest, toughest wrestlers in the world, "Dr. Death" uses powerslams and gorilla presses to crush the competition!Gary Albright: This suplex master has a multi-back suplex chain combo that usually spells the end of the match!
Johnny Ace: The younger brother of Road Warrior Animal has invented a nasty finisher where he puts the opponent in a Cobra Clutch and then drops 'em on their head! Ouch!!Wolf: he has the Giant Swing, but now it's part of a MASSIVE chain combo that sends the opponent flying out of the ring to the arena floor!!
Jeffry: The fighting fisherman returns! But now he can hoist you up into the air and send you crashing to his knee!!Secret Character-Hiroshi Hase: The "Northern Lights" has a cool looking missile dropkick from the top rope, and a painfull grapevine submission hold!
The game comes packed with a cool poster with a combo flow chart for each wrestler! As soon as you load the game, you're treated to a FMV showing footage from actual All Japan matches! There is an arcade mode, 2-player, and "Featuring Mode" (more on that later). Pick your character in the arcade mode, and your character is shown walking to the ring, climbing in, and doing his warm-up! Your character is followed by the opponent, who does the same! When the announcer calls you or your opponent's name, you do some kind of hot dogging to the crowd! Stan Hansen puts the peace sign in the air and hollers "WHOOOOOOO!". The crowd is a 2D bitmap, but it gets the job done. During most of the match, the crowd is silent. You might hear an occasional scream like "Kobashi", or "Ace", but for the most part, it's load mumbling. It's only when the match is at a critical stage that it finally becomes DEAFENING. But this is merely a realistic presentation of japanese crowds, as they are more sedate then U.S. fans. But if you ask me, they should have thrown realism out the window in this case and cranked up the volume! Have some consideration for importers ;)! Anyway, the resemblance that each wrestler has to his real-life counterpart is uncanny! Take a look at the screenshots! This kind of detail is unprecedented! That looks like a miniature Steve Williams, not a mannequin! And it MOVES like Steve Williams too!! Not a robot or a sleepwalker, like those other games. Sega used a sophisticated motion capture technique ( which they show you in a short FMV) for the most realistic movement ever in a wrestling game. Everyone doesn't move like the the games producer, they have their own style. They have realistic personalities too. Each wrestler has a taunt move (some have more than one) that really bring the personality out. Steve Williams gestures like he's wearing a championship belt. In another Williams taunt, he gives the "F you" sign! ROFL! Stan hansen fixes his Lariat arm, or lets out a load "whooooooo" battlecry! Johnny Ace challenges his opponent to step in closer. Sega did a phenomenal job of bringing the wreslers to life that any fan will appreciate. All the wrestlers patented moves are here, as well as the basics like headlocks, armbars, Irish Whips, Boston Crabs, and so on. Steve Williams does the "Stampede" powerslam off the tunbuckle, and Hansen does the Lariat, it's all in there. And it wont take you long to learn it either, thanks to Sega's training mode, which I cant say enough about. You can take a wrestler and learn all the moves and strategies in a matter of minutes! Not that you'll actually remember all that ;)! The same training set-up was used in Fighting Vipers and Fighter's MegaMix, and was also stolen by Namco for the Japanese release of Tekken 3. Little did Namco know that Sega has a patent on the set-up and was more than ready to enforce it, forcing Namco to take it out of the domistic release ;). The classic Sega training mode shows you which button to press in certain situations, like in the corner, outside the ring, in back of your opponent, etc. Once you get the character down, it's time to go to the ring, where Sega's classic depth of gameplay is readily apparent! Moves are specially designed for in the ring, in the corner, on the top rope, on the arena floor, from the ring to the floor, whatever!! You have the standard life bar, but underneath that is a sort of desperation meter that unlocks more devastating moves, including finishers, later in the match!! This desperation meter is in percentages, and you may be able to see it in screenshots. It build up when you take damage. Once it builds up to 50%, more moves and COMBOS are unlocked! Reach 80%, and match ending, earth shaking combinations are unleashed!! Take Stan Hansen. At 50% he can do powerbombs and this two slaps-bodyslam-elbow combination! At 80%, it's time for the Lariat!! The way you do the moves is just like VIRTUA FIGHTER, so any fan of that series that happens to be a wrestling fan can jump right in and play! the "A" button is to attack, like a punck, chop, or kick. The "B" button is used to grab your opponent for a follow uo move. The "C" button, or "throw button", is that follow up move once you grab 'em, usualy some variations of a suplex. But then you have the Virtua Fighter-esque gameplay!! There's combos like "ABA", "ABBA", "ABBC", "AB Up + C", you know, VF combos!! But instead of just punches and kicks, your wrestler will do something like a couple chops and then go into a powerbomb or a chokeslam! You start out with some of these combos but most are unlocked when your desperation meter is at least 50%. But why pin your opponent when you can make them submit!? That's right, All Japan has an INJURY SYSTEM where you can force your opponent to give up! If you keep hammering on a certain part of the body, say the arm, leg, or head, a sign comes up on the screen showing the PERCENTAGE of damage to the anatomy. The graphic will keep appearing the more you work on that limb, going from 30%, to 60%, to 90%...once you've inflicted 100% to that limb, your opponent starts rolling around on the mat in agony! Work on that area some more and you get a submission! Break two body parts and the ref automatically stops the match! There's also a wrestler edit feature as well, called the Featuring Mode!! You need a translation guide for it, because it's almost totally japanese. The edit is sort of pre-set though. You pick things like your wrestlers age, crowd chant, and fighting background (Judo, Karate, Greco Roman...). Then you answer a series of yes and no questions before you are taken to a screen that shows you which wrestler best fits the data you provided. There's many superstars hiden in this edit, like Kamala, Sabu, Rob Van Damm, Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, Super Destroyer, Patriot, and many others! Once you have your "created", more like preset, wrestler, you can take that grappler through an entire career! You start off with limited moves, but as you win matches, you win credits to buy more moves! And they are not only moves recycled from the regular characters, but new moves altogether! During your first couple of wins, you'll come across the secret character Hiro Hase, who does the Rick Rude hip swivel as a taunt! LOL! Beat him, and he becomes playable in the two-player mode! Your wrestler continues through the Champion's Canival (All Japan's Wrestlemania) before retiring! And you can save your created wrestler, new moves and all, to play against your friends in the two player battle!! All Japan is the best wrestling game ever made, for any system. It would have to be for me to babble this long about it ;)! No other wrestling game captures the realism of appearance and movement nearly as well! Add in VF style gameplay and depth, lightning fast speed, an excellent training mode, a challenging edit mode (you dont get all the move up front), and Jeffry and Wolf, and you have the ultimate pro wrestling game!Total Score: 100%-The crowd noise could have been loader, and the wrestler edit is preset, but that's not enough to take away from this masterpiece!!
Review By: P.S.X blowz