WWF Royal Rumble Review on Super Nintendo

Wrestling games are quite a conundrum of gaming. Some developers get it just right while others have trouble figuring out what exactly a “squared circle” is. While not perfect, for the time, LJN’s WWF Royal Rumble for the Super Nintendo, and later the Sega Genesis (under the Flying Edge banner) was better than the competition of the time (there wasn’t much competition). If you wanted to relive the fun of the annual Royal Rumble event, there was only one way to do it – WWF Royal Rumble on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

This review will focus on the Super Nintendo version as that is the one I have more experience with. There are differences outside of music quality though.

First, the music. The Super Nintendo Rumble game was great. You were literally getting the entrance music for each of the included wrestlers. Pure access to the music – no crowd noise, no announcers regurgitating the awesomeness of someone like Undertaker or Bret Hart. If you had a tape recorder around this time, were a fan of WWF (if not why are you playing this game?) then odds are, you had a custom mix tape with the wrestler themes that you liked somewhere on it.

The music on the Super Nintendo version was just that good. Not so much on the Sega Genesis though.

It is weird, looking back today, Acclaim (owners of both LJN and Flying Edge at this point) could have included an audio chip enhancer for the Sega Genesis version. Sure, the cost would have increased, but consider this. Hulk Hogan’s entrance music was iconic and guess what – the Hulkster is only in the Sega Genesis version of the game.

Sure, no one was going to drop $50 to $60 for a single song. Still, had Flying Edge included an improved sound chip on the cartridge then the music of ALL the wrestlers would have been improved as well.

The rest of the wrestlers in the Sega Genesis version kind of short changed fans. I don’t remember a lot of fans of The Model, IRS, or Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan in 1993. I do remember Tatanka, Ted DiBiase, Ric Flair, and Mr. Perfect being over quite well as either heels or babyfaces during this period and coincidentally, these superstars were only in the Super Nintendo WWF Royal Rumble.

I wonder how the character list was decided for the different ports of this game? It certainly seems that the Super Nintendo got the better roster. Was this another attempt by Nintendo to undermine the competition?

I am not against different platforms receiving exclusive content, just wondering how it was decided that the SNES roster would be that packed. I understand that putting 12 characters in a fighting game is still a gaming staple but surely, they could have done 17 in this situation.

Had they put in all 17 wrestlers in each game they could have limited the rumble to 12 and gave the player a bit of suspense and variety between each play through.

There were plenty of modes available to keep gamers interested. With a name like WWF Royal Rumble you would think there would only be that match. Nope. That would be too narrow minded, even for the WWF, er now WWE.

Matches can be fought in singles, tag, and triple tag team varieties. All three gameplay modes feature One Fall and Brawl style matches.

One Fall is just that. A normal match. Maybe something you would see weekly on the various wrestling shows on TV. The rules are like what you see followed by the real wrestlers – no eye gouging, no cheating. 3 count falls or 10 second count outside the ring and the winner is decided.

Brawl removes the referee and the rules. This mode is simply “beat the hell out of your opponent until they cannot get up”. Today, brawl mode is referred to as “Last Man Standing” which we will be seeing between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamora at this year’s Money in the Bank Pay Per View.

Then there is the tournament mode. This mode feels like the adventure part of the game. Here you pick a wrestler, or wrestlers in tag team mode, and attempt to lead them in matches taking on the remaining roster to become champion.

These options are available in both singles and tag team matches. That brings us to another, rarer option.

Three-man tag team.

If you are a wrestling fan that started in the last decade or so then you probably think teams like The Wyatt Family, New Day, or Shield started this whole three-man tag team thing.

You would be wrong. So wrong.

Nope. It goes farther back.

Maybe you think it was started during the attitude era when teams like The Brood (WWF) or early NWO (WCW) were running around with three-man teams.

Again. Wrong.

Three-man tag teams started many years ago, probably before most of the people reading this were ever born.

Going all the way back to 1979 we find the creation of the Fabulous Freebirds in Mid-South Wrestling under the direction of promoter Bill Watts. During this period three-man tag teams were unheard of.

Anyhow, three-man tag teams became popular, later known as “stables” because some promoters just want to be different. The point of three-man tag teams, or stables, is that any combination of the members can wrestle under the guise of the “team”. It brings a wild card aspect to the matches as fans are not quite sure who is going to be wrestling – and supposedly their opponents don’t know either.

At one point there were some promotions that offered three-man tag team championships.

Unfortunately, Flying Edge/LJN missed out on all this interesting fun by not allowing three-man tag teams to compete in tournament mode. Considering, even in 1993, WWF/WWE owned most of their major competition from the past this could have been something that could have been included.

Anyhow, history lesson over. Back to the game.

That music rocks. At least on the Super Nintendo. It is respectable on the Sega Genesis but obviously not as good.

The game play is where fans are divided on WWF Royal Rumble.

If you have a turbo enabled controller then you probably love WWF Royal Rumble.

If you don’t have a turbo enabled controller then you probably hate WWF Royal Rumble.

Why?

Because the “tug of war” effect when you “lock up” with your opponent is based on a few things. One of which is how much energy each wrestler has. Another is just how fast can the human player(s) hit the buttons.

The faster you hit the buttons, the better your chances of coming out on top of the lock up.

This is a call back to arcade games that were still going strong in 1993. There were no turbo buttons in arcades, it was just you and your fingers slapping those buttons. Of course, arcades had much better designed, and larger, buttons.

Things that they did right with WWF Royal Rumble was giving each wrestler their signature move. This meant everyone clamored for their favorite wrestler in the quest to do the Sharpshooter, the Tombstone Pile Driver, etc. It was almost magical seeing your favorite special move initiated by you.

There is something special about taking someone like Undertaker from the #1 or #2 entrant in the Royal Rumble and going all the way. Or taking him through the tournament to obtain the championship belt (something he has done an excruciatingly sparse number of times in real life).

The characters in the ring are decent facsimiles of their real-world counterparts with one caveat. Outside of Yokozuna. Even in WWF Raw, the title released prior to Royal Rumble, Yokozuna was not proportional to his real-world person. In real life, Yokozuna was huge. He dwarfed many of his competitors easily. Not so in WWF Royal Rumble.

For what it is, Royal Rumble is a great game. Much better than the Sega Dreamcast take on the event that we got less than a decade later. Many of the characters in WWF Royal Rumble on the Super Nintendo are iconic legends.

The Undertaker still wrestles from time to time. Curt Hennig, Mr Perfect, has passed but his son wrestles for WWE under the name Curtis Axle. Bret Hart has retired but his niece, Natalya, wrestles now. Some legacies are well represented in this game to say the least.

WWF Royal Rumble on the Super Nintendo just turned 25 years old on June 8th. While showing its age, the game still holds up well today – even though only one wrestler from the roster is still performing, even part time.

If you want to grab a copy of WWF Royal Rumble, you will have to go back to the source as I don’t see anyone licensing these characters to release it digitally. Check eBay or Amazon out for your wrestling fix.

2 Responses to WWF Royal Rumble Review on Super Nintendo

  1. Jon Hellinga says:

    First thing I thought of was how much my thumb would hurt after playing this game

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