SNES Reviews
SNES Sanctuary
Obscure SFC Hub
Planet SEGA Saturn
Magazine MADNESS
Retro Fire

Publisher: Masaya (NCS)Released: 4.7.95Written: 1.12.11
Developer: NatsumeScarcity: 4.5Size: 24 MEGS

This funky sounding game, Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling 2:3-4 Budokan, might be a bit confusing but don't let its strange title fool ya. This is, in my humble estimation, THE finest wrestling game you could play on your Super Nintendo, bar none. The great news is you don't need to know any lick of Japanese to enjoy it, the gameplay rocks your socks and everything has been improved from the previous two Zen games (which will be looked at a bit later below). Whatever you call this game, I call it the very best  ^_^

The last and best game in the Zen Nippon / All Japan Pro series!


At 19, Budokan offers the most from the three Zen Nippon games. My favorite is...

Dude is just a bad ass!

Asteroid was my favorite wrestler from Natsume Championship Wrestling, which was a 1994 US Super Nintendo release based off the original 1993 Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling game. Man, did my brother and I have some good times with ole NCW... from buying the last copy available at Toys R Us in '95 for its clearance price of $19.99... to all the late evenings we spent glued to the TV screen waging war in tag team battle. Even my mom, who never much cared for video games, would occasionally stop whatever chore she might be doing to glance at the game's subtle brutality. My bro and I played NCW to death for a good number of years until we finally "laid it to rest" in 1997 when one day, my bro simply refused to play it again. It was a sad day for yours truly, but such is the life of video games, I suppose. Thanks for all the good times and fond memories, NCW!  You and all your cheesy charm will never be forgotten


Indeed, and some of the new moves are simply AWESOME

                                                      Poor Doug Furnas probably lost a tooth there!

Yes, I'm fairly sadistic  [So I've noticed -Ed.]

                                                     Like I said, more moves than ever before FTW!

[OK, please do not use the word KINKY ever again -Ed.]

                                                 Not really THAT big a deal, but cool stuff nonetheless

Indeed. Press 'A' to do this. If you catch your opponent, you can hit Y for a weak move, B for a medium move, A for a power move or X to sling them into the ropes. It allows you to skip the grappling process but be warned, your opponent can still counter you if they're too strong

You have so many choices after a successful hold...

                                        The new entrances are very cool, as well, with their own theme

Reminds me of one of those lavish GODZILLA VS. titles, heh

Just like in the previous games as well, the 2.5 and 2.9 dramatic counts return, which will result in the audience stomping in unison causing the screen to shake. There's nothing like a dramatic and well-fought, competitive pro wrestling match!


Akira Taue's "CHICHUBU CEMENT" as it's known, with the ropes acting as a deadly ally!

Just like Asteroid from NCW, Akira's face slam is devastating against the cable ropes

OUCH!  Nothing says "PAIN" quite like a direct missile dropkick to the FACE!

Nice!  Reversals happen every now and again to keep players honest and on their toes

Countering from defense into offense creates a dramatic ebb and flow

This is not your average back suplex... as you will see below. Talk about a headache!

There might be no blood, but don't underestimate the brutality of Budokan!

Akira's infamous "Nodowa Otoshi" (AKA Choke Slam for American wrestling fans) is perfectly replicated in Budokan. Very faithful in their translation, were Natsume. Kudos!

As were they with Akira's multiple power bombs!  Watch and see how cool this is...

So he has two different power bombs!  One, press 'A' to HOLD, then press Up + A. This causes a standard yet effective power bomb. OR, you can press 'A' to HOLD, then press
Up + tap A several times, which produces the deadly PINNING power bomb. I just love
a game that gives the player multiple options. It all points to Budokan's brilliance!

Natsume also replicated fairly well Akira Taue's impactful Ore Ga Taue, which produces
a loud mat crunch. Diehard All Japan Pro Wrestling fans will be in Heaven here

Chichubu Cement without rope assistance. One of the coolest looking moves in Budokan (of which there are MANY) and feels so satisfying to inflict. You almost wince at the impact


First, check out the cool entrances. Most wrestlers wear some sort of special t-shirt or
robe that they only wear during their ring entrances. Good stuff. Baba is PIMPING!

Budokan is a very unique mode where you book the wrestling matches!  The arena starts out looking rather sorry and sparse, but depending on the quality of your booked matches, more fill in as the evening progresses. It's a cool little niche mode but it's not my favorite...


                                                  Ah NOW THIS is my favorite mode HANDS DOWN!

The Fatal Fourway, first introduced in the second game in the series, Zen Nippon Dash, has made it over to Budokan but plays 10 times better. It's simply the bread and butter of Budokan for me

I JUST LOVE beating up on the masked wrestlers, heh heh heh...

The Fatal Four Way leads to some good old fashion arcade-esque fun and chaos. "Bum rushing" folks from behind is oddly one of the greatest gameplay features in multi-player history. There's just something about attacking your friends from behind that will cause you to grin like a Cheshire cat!  Trust me when I say, it's priceless

                                         Of course, attack your pals from behind only in video games...

Like in NCW, the ropes can be your friend if used wisely. You can actually ram them into the ropes, bouncing them off!  This makes a neat sound effect and you will also holler and clap in pure joy at the clever brutality and sheer violence of it all. Trust me, it's more fun than you might think...

Winner: Attacking them from behind LEADING into whiplash  ^_^

                                        It truly does. Creates some serious four-player mayhem and fun!

Also part of the fun is waiting in the wings,
then rush attacking the opponent in the middle
of his wrestling move animation. Here we see a well-timed dropkick in the middle of a suplex. All three bodies crash to the mat, but of course, only you get up immediately while the others are licking their sore wounds on the canvas -- lovely!

There's a very devious "vulture-y" aspect to the Fatal Four Way!

Indeed, taking out two at the same time, particularly nailing one in front and the other from behind, there's simply no sweeter feeling in the world. When playing against friends, you can imagine the CHAOS and temporary allegiances this may create, heh heh...

                                                            Now that's what I call a HIT AND RUN!

If anyone is foolish enough to taunt during a FATAL FOUR WAY match, it is your civic
and rightful duty to remind them why doing such is not a great idea. Hey, someone's
gotta do the dirty work... don't mind if I do!  ;)


On average, my Fatal Four Way matches roughly go anywhere from about eight to 12 minutes. The real fun lies in trying to see how long you can prolong the torture of the three other wrestlers. You can break up pinfalls by pressing 'B' to stomp, but it doesn't always work, oddly. Then again... why would you want to break up a pinfall unless you're totally sick and sadistic like I am?
My longest time was 24 minutes and 38 seconds. However, on my last play-through, it went a record-long 51 minutes and 28 seconds!  After Patriot and Eagle were eliminated, THIS DAMN FOOL REFUSED TO DIE. I swore he kicked out at 2.5 and 2.9 at least a good 30 times. I don't know what got into him that night, but he was A MAN POSSESSED. I finally put him away at long last and wow... what an epic battle. He was hit with about 15 missile dropkicks yet, like Chucky the evil doll, dude kept coming back for more. I never seen anything like that before. After a back-breaking power bomb, he finally submitted to my foul desires. It's just fun to see how long you can keep a match going with all three guys, then two, then finally one. Any time I get it over 15 minutes (like I said, my average is around eight to 12), it's an amazingly satisfying feeling

Like I said, sometimes you just can't break up a pinfall. Not sure why, and whenever the fight spills outside the ring, there's a decent chance one of the computer wrestlers will be counted out, as they stay out there no matter what until the count of six. Often times another wrestler comes out, they grapple and one of them is laying flat on his back as the ref counts 10. Also, when they have been beaten up to a pulp, the first submission animation leads to a submission victory. It's trickier than you think to keep all three computer opponents alive, and it's just so fun to see how long you can take them to the limit. Or maybe this is just me and I have some serious problems, heh. But I know this: Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Budokan is, for the most part, a dream come true for this ol' wrestling fan. I'm amazed because I see something new almost every time I play it. The other night Patriot and Eagle actually did a TAG TEAM move in the Fatal Four Way match to take out Kobashi. It was a suplex-top rope splash combination. That same match I discovered that Akira Taue can counter a rope reversal by hitting UP + Y or
(which produces a DDT!). And, of course, when I first found out Akira had two different power bombs (based on whether you press A once or tap it a few times), my jaw had to be picked up from the floor. The depth of this wrestling game is bottomless!


Budokan took everything that worked in the first two previous games and upped it to the nth degree. It is the best wrestling game on the SNES, period. I just wish I'd discovered it earlier. Ever since mid-late November 2010, I've been logging so much time in this game it's not even funny. As a kid I followed the WWF religiously. I loved anything that had to do with wrestling. For the longest time as well I was convinced that Natsume Championship Wrestling was the best Super NES wrestling game, but part
of me was always disappointed it wasn't more. How thrilled was I then to find out about Budokan, which damn near perfects NCW's formula, with more wrestlers, more moves, a superb Fatal Four Way match, better gameplay, better graphics and so on. This is one of those scant, rare games I can pop in after a long day, play for just 7-10 minutes and be completely satisfied. It might sound sad but I could actually play this game every day if I had to. That's how much I love it. Like I said, it's got the best rushing attack system in any wrestling game I've ever seen. Bum rushing people in the Fatal Four Way will cause uproar and allegiances to form and break as quickly as they began. It's just a bloody brilliant fun time -- especially for wrestling fanatics like myself

The grapple system is based on timing, much like Fire Pro, as opposed to rapid button crunching. This time-based system
is best I feel. Budokan combines a near perfect match of simulation with arcade-like fun. I don't have many complaints about it. Only thing I wish is... if the game featured WCW and WWF guys, man, it would be flawless. Imagine using guys like Sting, Undertaker, Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage and Rey Mysterio Junior with THIS graphic style and gameplay system. I would be in major wrestling video game Heaven!  Alas, we must settle for 19 All Japan Pro Wrestling stars. They're not bad, but I simply don't connect with these guys as I do with the more well-known American wrestlers of mid-1990's fame. Zen Nippon Budokan IS, from where I sit, easily *HANDS DOWN* the best wrestling game one could play on their Super NES. Combining the fun and chaos of Saturday Night Slam Masters along with Fire Pro's purity, Budokan is a TRUE gem. If only it had featured WWF/WCW too, it'd be a 10. Still, as is, it's the wrestling game on my favorite system ever that I've been long searching for all these years. It's a crime Budokan is so unknown and unpraised. Bravo, Natsume -- I give this game two mighty steel chair shots to the skull!

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9.5
Longevity: 10

Overall: 9.5

Double Gold Award

                                        Wrestling fans who are also SNES owners must play this gem :)

Don't take my word for it. Try it out and see for yourself!

By the way, check out this video I made of a Fatal Four Way match. It'll give you a good idea
seeing this game in motion and the different little tricks one can pull off... make sure you read
the body description of the vid. Enjoy!

Now for a brief look at the first two Zen Nippon games...


Written: 10.20.06
Acquired: 3.27.06
Status: CIB
Price: $2.99

Publisher: Masaya (NCS)Released: 7.16.93
Developer: NatsumeScarcity: 1

Growing up in the late 80's, a kid only needed two things really: Nintendo and Hulk Hogan. I still remember how my uncle, before father time got the better of him, would watch Saturday Night's Main Event with me and my brother. How he took us to the mall to get autographs from visiting WWF superstars. It was a great time

ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING is an excellent wrestling game featuring solid "thick" graphics, good sound and terrific gameplay. The grapple system relies on timing rather than speed. You have weak, medium and power attacks during grapple. The energy bar is perhaps my favorite thing about these games. (The "whiplash rope" trick is pretty damn cool too...)

Your energy bar starts out BLUE

The bar decreases as damage is taken, revealing these colors in sequence:


Like Capcom's stellar 2D fighter Vampire Savior, health can be recuperated. In a tag match
when you're not in, you recover. When you take a move, like a powerbomb or dropkick, you
lose the proper amount of health, but your energy will recover at a decent pace. However, the
more damage you take, the slower your energy will recuperate. Ace concept

Japanese wrestling legend Giant BABA is in the house.  But he's no match for the younger and quicker Patriot

And, of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the ability to knock the opponent's tag team partner off the apron with a well-placed clothesline.  And if the chap attempts to
tag out, you can TAKE HIM OUT.  Good stuff

As good as this game is, the "sequel" is even better....


Written: 10.20.06
Acquired: 7.17.06
Status: CIB
Price: $2.99

Publisher: Masaya (NCS)Released: 12.28.93
Developer: NatsumeScarcity: 2

ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING DASH was released only five months after the 1st one. It's more of an upgrade than a sequel. Like the original, 16 wrestlers are available. So what's new?  Besides minor roster changes, the focus is now on tag team play, though the 1st had tag team modes as well. The difference here?  Tag team moves


That'll re-arrange his furniture!

                                                                                  C.O.D -- Concussion on Delivery

OK, I know what you're thinking

"Tag team combo moves. BIG DEAL!"

Tell me about it. That's why, to save Dash from being simply a hack cash-in, they included...

The Fatal 4-Way Battle Royal!

This mode is a wild free-for-all and provides great multiplayer action. There are no energy bars cluttering the screen. The only way to win is via pinfall or submission. Over-the-top-rope doesn't matter here -- hell, you can take the battle outside!

                                    The outside mat has
                                    a different crunch than
                                    when slamming some
                                    one on the regular mat,
                                    nice, huh?

The Zen Nippon games are great wrestling titles. Fire Pro gets all the hoop-la and deservedly so, but don't overlook these gems. In 1994, Natsume released Natsume Championship Wrestling on the SNES, it's essentially the same game as the first Zen Nippon but converted with fake wrestlers. NCW is one of my favorites -- my bro and I wasted so many hours on that game back in the day. However, the best of the series is Budokan without question

Kudos, Natsume