(Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Natsume Championship Wrestling (Wii Virtual Console / Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Natsume Championship Wrestling Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Puts up a fight

It might seem strange that there has not been a single wrestling game on Virtual Console in the West so far, but when you really think about it, it makes sense. Almost every single wrestling title out there features the likenesses of real people, meaning it would take some serious effort and money to rerelease them. Games with made-up characters are of course much easier, but there's not as many. Natsume Championship Wrestling is is one of them, however, and it's a fairly good start for VC wrestling games.

Truth be told, this actually was a licensed title when originally released. Originally created by NCS, the makers of Cho Aniki, the game was originally the first title in the Japan-exclusive Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling series. Fairly popular, it lasted for eight games, each starring the likenesses of several moderately well-known wrestlers from around the world.

Eventually, Natsume offered to publish the first game in North America, but as it didn't want to go through the trouble of paying for the likenesses, it modified all the sprites and simply changed the wrestlers into fictional characters, though they still have some minor resemblances to the people they were originally based on.

Like pretty much any wrestling game, you've got the option of trying to win a tournament, or simply playing a quick exhibition match with a friend. Exhibition matches are pretty self-explanatory, but there are four different tournaments: regular, tag team, round robin and, of course, round robin tag team. For those not aware, round robin means that instead of only fighting a few opponents altogether, you'll fight every single opponent there is. You can also pick a difficulty level for each of the tournaments.

The strangest thing about Natsume Championship Wrestling is that, despite being released later, it actually has fewer selectable characters than its original form of Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling. That offered sixteen unique wrestlers, but here, you've only got a total of twelve. That doesn't mean the game is any less extensive, however: each fighter has a sizeable list of mostly unique moves at their disposal, with different moves of course being executable in different situations, like charging, grappling, being on top of the ropes and more.

One of NCW's major points is that both fighters have a very large health bar, which, when depleted, simply reveals another bar underneath. With six bars total, it can take a while before your opponent is worn out, but thankfully that also means the same goes for you. A welcome feature is that your health will actually regenerate, and the rate at which it does will increase the lower your remaining amount gets.

You won't lose even if you lose all your health, although it pretty much will be over for you: the only way to win in this game is to pin your opponent for three seconds, or keep them out of the ring for ten seconds. There are also no rules to abide by, so feel free to go all out on your opponent until their health is low enough to throw and keep them out of the ring or pin them.

The game is fairly standard graphics-wise, with decent-sized sprites and a loosely animated crowd, though there's nothing too amazing. The music is actually pretty catchy, with each fighter having their own theme song in exhibition matches. The themes are the same as in the original Japanese game, minus those belonging to the four missing characters, of course.

Conclusion

For anybody who's been waiting for a wrestling game to hit Virtual Console in the West, Natsume Championship Wrestling is a pretty good 16-bit offering, with a wide array of moves and twelve pretty different fighters. There's not exactly many other wrestling games that could easily come to the service, so don't get your hopes up for other, better titles to appear. Either get this one or dig out your N64 and that WWF game you used to love so much.

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Game Trailer

User Comments (30)

Portista

#1

Portista said:

Eh, Never got a VC game, and I probably won't get this one. Also, do all the VC games have the full game in it? Otherwise, I don't think I'll ever buy a VC game.

Rawk_Hawk

#2

Rawk_Hawk said:

I've given up hope for Pro Wrestling(NES) to be released on the VC. However; I'm still holding out hope for Saturday Night Slam Masters and Tecmo Wrestling.

Link79

#5

Link79 said:

The only wrestling game I ever really liked was I think WCW Vs. NWO on N64. There was this Ninja Character who could do all kinds of cool flips and stuff. He had this move where you would run at the other guy and walk up his chest then grab him in a leg lock and slam him to the mat. He was my favorite wrestler. I'm not even that much into these type of games but that one ruled!

retro_player_22

#7

retro_player_22 said:

This is an awesome game, unlike Saturday Night Slam Master Masters this one actually had good wrestling in it instead of just gimmick and like the capcom wrestling games this one also support 4-Players too and since it's on VC there's no need for a Multi Tap Adapter.

Shiryu

#8

Shiryu said:

Second only to Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium and it's very own sequel, but since neither of them ever graced the west and since Capcom's "Saturday Night Slam Masters" is more arcade then wrestling, this is the #1 SNES wrestling game to have.

Splat

#10

Splat said:

It will never happen in a million years but I would LOVE for any of the N64 wrestling games to be on VC but like you said "likenesses of real people" will stop that.

KeeperBvK

#12

KeeperBvK said:

Seems pretty arbitrary to me. One out of 6 characters in KotM is human and in games like Mario Tennis and Golf also only few characters are human. So aren't they sports games anymore because of that?
A wrestling game is defined by its gameplay. Not by who you control.
Seems to me like you just forgot about KotM and don't want to change anything about the article anymore, trying to come up with some crude reasoning for your decision. No harm meant. ;)

James

#13

James said:

I see your point about the Mario sports games, but I think if you showed 100 people King of Monsters and asked them to say what genre of game it was, the majority would call it a fighting game, whereas this is very recognisably a wrestling game.

Also the insinuation that we wouldn't edit a post if it contained a genuine error is unfair.

Roo

#14

Roo said:

I downloaded this at the weekend. It's bloody difficult to grapple - you've got to get the exact timing for it to work.

Seven is a generous score, in my opinion. Though NCW certainly isn't a bad game, it isn't anything too amazing either.

Bass_X0

#16

Bass_X0 said:

Wrestling games have a wrestling ring (although not all games played in a wrestling ring are wrestling games). A wrestling game without a wrestling ring isn't a wrestling game.

FluttershyGuy

#17

FluttershyGuy said:

WWF... uh, excuse me, "WWE" (damn pandas) Royal Rumble and Raw on Super NES were good also. Not the greatest variety of moves, but the wrestlers did have their signature finishers.

Royal Rumble match was just fun. Fond memories of playing against my best friend in high school (myself as Ric Flair, WOOOOOOOO!) and being at a stalemate on the move meter when we tried to eliminate each other. Came down to which of us lost all function in their right hand first LOL! Super WrestleMania, that's a different story. Truly fit the term "slow as molasses".

Can't wait for Natsume Championship Wrestling (and Saturday Night Slam Masters, come on Capcom!!!), to see if it tops the aforementioned games. Wish Natsume would release Pocky & Rocky too!

FluttershyGuy

#18

FluttershyGuy said:

"Big Ape" looks like Sylvester Stallone's opponent in "Over the Top". Of course, not as blatant as Track & Field II, where the two arm wrestlers looked exactly like Sly and Other Dude.

TTGlider

#19

TTGlider said:

FYI, I went looking for more videos on youtube and a hardcore SNES wrestling fan has four volumes with impressions of perhaps every SNES wrestling title. NCW is at the end of video 1 and the review is very positive.

Betagam7

#22

Betagam7 said:

Regardless of King of the Monsters status as a wrestling game the review is incorrect to state that "there has not been a single wrestling game on Virtual Console so far" for the simple reason that Fire ProWrestling 2nd bout was released for the Japanese VC service way back in 2008. The article should say that this is the west's first VC wrestling game (excluding King of the Monsters).

Another point with the review:
"You can also pick a difficulty level for each of the tournaments, which strangely you can't do for exhibition matches".

Please correct me if I'm wrong but are exhibition matches not solely 2 player events? That was my understanding from playing the game. Why then would there be a difficulty level? If there is a way to have single player exhibition matches I'd like to know what it is as that would be a nice feature for occasional play.

I am glad that Marcel gave the game a decent score though. too often wrestling games are reviewed by people who don't understand them and who subsequently fail to appreciate the nuances that seperate the wheat from the chaff.
This game does a lot of things right, from the firepro-esque timed grapple system (way better than the awful system used in the WWF games) to the fantastic movesets of the characters (only hampered by the fact that only three can perform moves from the turnbuckle) to the nice animations, little after match promos and good pacing of the matches this is an early example of a developer genuinely trying to capture the x-factor of wrestling rather than just bashing out something that only resembles it on a superficial level.

It's just a pity that the one player game is rather limited and easy which means that without another human opponent this game offers little replay value once you've tried out the different characters and probably drops its score down to a six.

It would also have been nice to have the option to just play single matches and to mix and match tag teams instead of having preset teams to pick from.

Vinsanity

#24

Vinsanity said:

Weird timing...with WWE All Stars just around the corner, you'd figure all eyes would be on THAT game. Well, if you're in the market for a super fun arcadey wrestling brawler - the NFL Blitz to Smackdown VS. Raw's Madden. There was a time when I wanted stuff like Saturday Night Slam Masters on the VC, but now, I'm just gonna get WWE All Stars. I can't wait for that game to come out ;)

Rukiafan

#25

Rukiafan said:

It looks like it might be coming stateside on monday :)
Several topics are being created accross the web & are quickly getting deleted by mods.......it must be hard work to clean up topics :/
well anyway nothing solid yet but at least it seems possible for a 3 vc game month here in the americas' :)

Rerun

#28

Rerun said:

I'm just waiting for Tecmo World Wrestling. That one's a sure buy for me.

BrickRockwell

#29

BrickRockwell said:

@Portista (.1): Of course they're full games; that's all that's available for vc; no trials or teasers likes PS3 or XBOX360, and once downloaded you don't have to be online or signed into an account to play these classics (unlike the competition, but like them in that you can only play them on the console you purchased them on). For me, the VC was the main reason I bought a Wii in the first place, because I went through a patch when I thought I was over gaming and got rid of all my classic systems and games (: o Only now that I have these classics on next-gen consoles do I realize how lacking most new games truly are beneath the spitshine and polish.

Hortencio

#30

Hortencio said:

@BrickRockwell
Totally an underrated feature of Nintendo's download service and a strong reason I bought a Wii too (that, and Brawl). Sure, we don't/won't get games likes Earthbound or Bomberman 64, beg as we might, but at least we don't have any wack loopholes to jump through like the 360 and/or P3 (ads, WTF!!?!) post-purchase. We also get comparable original titles too, perhaps not as gory or adult, but fun nonetheless (a concept lost on many owners of those systems)... Portista, you are a true fool!

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