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Written: 4.13.07
Acquired: 2.20.06
Status: CIB
Price: $4

Pub: NatsumeJune '94
Dev: Natsume16 MEGS


Growing up, my bro and I were huge wrestling fans. I remember in the early 90's when the WWF superstars came to the local mall. My uncle drove us and I wanted to ask the guy "Is wrestling real?"  I was maybe 7 years old. But anyway, when I got up to him and saw how big
of a bloke he was, I timidly handed him my trading card of him, he signed it and I walked away, humbled by the size of his guns


In the summer of '94, my bro saw an ad for NCW in EGM. The ad is much like the cover, and to this day remains one of the cheesiest, laughable ads I've ever seen. Two wrestlers that vaguely resembles ANY of the actual NCW combatants are seen sparring. The text read NATSUME CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING IS DEFINITELY THE MOST INCREDIBLY EXCITING GAME EVER DEVELOPED. IT WILL BLOW YOU AWAY!!

Well hot damn. I'm sold. Ah the innocence of youth. In addition, it had a ton of engrish -- "Jumping Kneepat" ... "Shoulder Through" ... "Kitchen Sink" ...  EH?  O_o

My bro then uttered the words I'd heard a hundred times before...


"Steve, go rent it this weekend for me"


And so it was that Friday night that me and my dad were off to the rental shops. No store had the game, except... Ultimate Video, the new gigantic mom 'n pop that opened circa Spring of '94 (see Memories of Renting for more).  I remember seeing Double Dragon V and wanting to rent that instead. But... I had a mission to finish. My dad checked the game out and we stopped by Burger King to grab dinner for me and my brother

I opted to stay in the car. Ultimate Video did a rarity in those days... they included the game's manual. Sitting there in the faint orange glow of the street lamp, I studied the extensive manual and to this day, it's a vivid memory that has stuck with me






I remember being impressed by the large move sets. Most wrestling games of that era simply didn't have very many moves. Here you had different moves for the SAME button! All you had to do was hit left, right, up or down to do a different manuever. Maybe the ad wasn't lying, maybe this was indeed the most incredibly exciting game ever developed. But then I spotted some funny errors in the manual. What the hell is a slipper hold? And why is Conan 6'9" when he's 6'0"? The ad also had its fair share of typo's and the like. And the game received extremely limited exposure in magazines. I was beginning to think I should have gone with Double Dragon V....



Long story short(er), we loved this game. It's a shame that NCW has never really been in the spotlight like it deserves... SO, without further ado, let's see why this game is the most incredibly exciting game ever developed.......



              
              What is Technostasy?
              Why is there no space
              in between since and
              1987? What an odd
              bunch!

              [You're one to talk -Ed.]






5 game modes. If you play the CPU you can choose between easy, medium or hard. With friends, it's possible to have 12 players! (via the Round Robin Tag Match). If you're new, don't start on Hard if you wish to keep your front teeth intact. The system is based on timing, not rapid mad button pushing (thank goodness) but for newbies it'll take a while to get the timing down pat







FEEL THE POWER!

The energy bar system is one of the best I've ever seen. Like Vampire Savior (but much earlier, mind), when you take damage, it's possible to recuperate health. However, the more damage you take, the slower the healing process. There are six bars:




It's bloody ace. Other wrestling games of that time had one energy bar, with no healing potential. Think of all those WWF games as well as Saturday Night Slam Masters... you'll never look at an energy bar in a wrestling game quite the same way after playing NCW

In tag matches it's especially brilliant. Tag out with your health on dark red, 2 minutes tag back in and you'll find your health in the green. Therefore, tag team strategy in this game more closely mimic the "real thing" than other wrestling games of that era

Nothing satisfies more than beating someone up SO bad that his health recovers at a snail-like pace!







THE WRASSLERS

There are 12 in all, with 3 body shapes. Big, medium and small. Let's meet these barbaric thugs now shall we?



ASTEROID

6'4"
269 pounds

My favorite. According to the manual
he has won many championships and
bloody hell, he does one mean face
slam!







                                   Do his face slam
                                   when close to the
                                   ropes...







... For it'll give them a
whiplash to remember
you by!









                                                               CONAN

                                                               6'0"
                                                               259 pounds

                                                               One of two medium body types,
                                                               he does a killer moonsault press!



Great way to end it all... not to mention nice Spidey impression in pic #2









VIPER

6'1"
248 pounds


Fast as lightning, with some
of the game's coolest moves









                                                 Wicked spinning
                                                 heel kick!



Viper shows off his power with this lovely powerslam



Somewhere Randy "Macho Man" Savage is rolling over in his grave!








                                                     PHANTOM

                                                     6'0"
                                                     258 pounds


                                                     Palette swap? Shh, Natsume knows no
                                                     such thing... Phantom has that devious
                                                     look to a science, but lacks cool moves



Nice cross chop to the throat though! Ooof!









SPIKE

6'4"
279 pounds


Tallest bloke in NCW. Sports one
hell of a tan. Hmmm, he almost
reminds me of Jake "The Snake"
Roberts
... naaaah....



Then again.... I'll be damn. Great jumping DDT!









                                                              J. KRAZE

                                                              6'3"
                                                              277 pounds


                                                              He sure could use Spike's tan!
                                                              A former mental patient, he's
                                                              earned his name for good reason!








I mean, just look at that kisser! He's a
psychopath! J. Kraze was my brother's
2nd favorite wrestler. I loved to beat him
up... nutthin' like poundin' crazy folk...



Clothesline from hell! If near the ropes, victim will receive a NASTY whiplash!







BIG APE

6'2"
322 pounds

Fattest bloke in town, a
King Kong Bundy clone,
Big Ape knows how to
throw his weight around!





               Oh boy, you certainly
               don't want to be on the
               receiving end of this!






It's like hitting
a brick wall?





                                                          More like running
                                                          into a building!



The Avalanche Slam is downright deadly








                                                  H. SNAKE

                                                  5'9"
                                                  245 pounds


                                                  No knee pads? Is he mad? Or just plain
                                                  dumb? I hate this guy. I always take great
                                                  pleasure in beating him up. He looks like
                                                  the kind of guy you just want to plummel!



He's capable of this nice combination though... clothesline...






Bounce 'im off the ropes
with a well-timed punch



Then evade the punch and deliver a perfect standing dropkick!









FANGZ

6'1"
262 pounds


Of them all, this guy is the dullest.
Basically a swap of Asteroid but
hardly any fun to play as



Not a bad power bomb though








                                                       PYTHON

                                                       6'2"
                                                       302 pounds

                                                       Hmmm, someone got a snake fetish?
                                                       Viper, Fangz, H. Snake, now Python?!
                                                       This fool is mad strong! Arguably has
                                                       the best-looking move in the game too



This will damn near decapitate you!



His throwing power bomb is sick! You can also throw them out of the ring!








M. ROACH

5'9"
229 pounds


My bro's favorite. Easy to see why.
Not only is he great fun to play as,
but those are some killer trunks!



His running hiptoss is smooth and effective



Drop the guillotine legdrop on them sorry faces! MWAHAHAHA! Ahem...



Exclusive to Roach is this super excellent-looking neckbreaker! Great animation











            I love this move.
            The mat makes
            loud crunches
            when bodies hit.
            Lovely stuff...



Phantom is dazed here..... go for the kill!











Talk about C.O.D.!

Concussion On
Delivery!









                                                          K. BRUTO

                                                          6'3"
                                                          312 pounds


                                                          A 3-time champion, Bruto lives up to
                                                          his moniker. Check out his finishing
                                                          move... that's gotta leave a mark...



His high-angled power bomb will compress your spinal cord and crack your skull







                                                                               THE GAME











Post match quotes even rear their ugly head in NCW. I guess no brawler of any sort was safe in those days, no?











Take the fight
outside for more
destruction. Get
back in before
the count of 10










           M. Roach shows
           off his reaching
           ability










                                                    Reach out and touch somebody!  Har Har Har....






What's nice is when you pick up
an opponent, he sits up half way.
From here you can pick him up
again so that he stands, or leave
him sitting, whereby you can kick
the back of his skull or wrench his
neck in a sleeper hold!







                               Although no weapons like chairs and
                               broken beer bottles are available, the
                               steel barricades make a great ally
                               if you fling 'em toward it. Try and time
                               it so you can follow up with a killer
                               clothesline combination, right as this
                               animation expires. Simple, but highly
                               effective stuff!




                                                                                           Blood?! Oddly, only for Roach










The tag team modes with four humans are the best. With the tag round robin option, it's possible for 12 to play (rotating of course)











             Wanna know a
             neat trick in the
             tag mode?

             Observe....



Oh hell yeah!  It's the little things that makes games so fun







MORE TRICKS....

You've seen how the ropes can come into play (e.g. face slam, clothesline) for a nice added whiplash affect.... you've seen the dirty tag team tactic.... there are some others but I have to show this one... the others you find out for yourself....








Using a fast guy, toss a
slow guy the other way









                                                 Immediately tail
                                                 gate him!









At the right moment, go
for your leaping attack








                                               OH! How so very
                                               embarrassing for
                                               them, and sweet
                                               for you!






Ah, the "monkey commentators." My mom was the first to coin this phrase, and it stuck. Gotta love this bizarre little touch!












                Uh yeah... let
                us move on,
                then...







MEMORIES OF NCW... AND THE DAY IT DIED

After my brother and I enjoyed the heck out of Natsume Championship Wrestling, we decided it was a game we were going to buy, once it went on budget. Sure enough, one year later we were browsing the SNES game aisle at Toys R Us in good ole 1995

And there it was, like a beacon of light

NCW on clearance for $19.99

I grabbed that classic Toys R Us game slip -- turns out it was the last one!

We played NCW for a good long time. My mom would casually walk by and actually stand there to watch for a minute or two. She couldn't care less for video games, but something about the barbaric game tactics (rope whiplash trick, catch-you-from-behind, etc.) appealed to her, and of course, the outlandish chimp commentators. Looking back, those were truly the good old days...



We played together mostly, but when against, I usually got the better of him



We played NCW well into 1997. It was loads of fun, but one day, my brother finally "laid the game to rest" -- as they might say

"Hey, let's play NCW," I said

"Naw, I had enough of it"

"What? One more time... c'mon"

"We've played it to death..."

And he was right. We had slammed J. Kraze's crazy ass probably a ga-zillion times, crushed Snake's wind pipe five hundred thousand times and sent Spike to the hospital more times than
I could count. We truly exhausted the game for all it was worth. With my brother retiring from NCW, so too did I...... it was a sad day, but inevitable... such is the life of video games...







ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING BUDOKAN!






If you like NCW, then you simply must try out its Japanese counterpart and sequel Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling Budokan. It improves on NCW in just about every darn aspect, including a super fun fatal four way match option. It is, quite frankly, the best wrestling game you could play on your SNES







CLOSING THOUGHTS



February 20, 2006

A little over a month into my SNES resurrection, I re-bought NCW to relive not only the memories, but just to play again, a very very good wrestling game

And some times... good memories obscure the game's flaws... the game's shortcomings... well, not the case here!  NCW is just as good today as it was many many moons ago, I'm happy to say


THAT'S MY GUY!  Asteroid!  CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS :)


Unlike other wrestling games from that time period, the move set was extensive, the grapple system relied on timing (much like the awesome Fire Pro series) and there were so many nice touches. Got your opponent on the ground?  Stomp his face OR his knees. Do an elbowdrop. A kneedrop. Fling them into the ropes?  Backdrop. Clothesline. Running hiptoss. The list goes on and on. Y is for weak moves, B for medium and A for power. If you attempt too strong a move on a fresh opponent they will counter!  Before you can apply your finisher, they must be weakened

The first time you witness a running clothesline followed by your opponent ducking seamlessly into a back suplex you will go, "OH NO!  But damn if that wasn't cool!"




While the graphics don't match that of a Saturday Night Slam Masters -- its gameplay is simply unrivaled. And that's the ultimate area of concern -- game play. There is no comparison. NCW also has nice sound and music too, actually, quite nice





Here's another cool twist -- instead of 2 going to 3 -- there's 2.5 and 2.9 first!  If you kick out during these close counts, the fans can be heard stomping in unison from the rafters!

The wealth of moves, how extremely playable it is.... it's a shame this game went under the radar as much as it did. There was ZERO coverage in GameFan and EGM only had a 1-page preview in their May '94 issue. Neither publication reviewed the game. It also came out the same time as arcade champion Slam Masters. Tough way to break in, eh?

What a shame. It deserved so much better

What is the best American SNES wrestling game?

Without hesitation, I'd say...






It's not the most incredibly exciting game ever developed.... BUT... it is pretty damn good



Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Longevity: 7.5



Overall: 8.5

Double Silver Award



















 
   
 
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