Saturday, January 7, 2012

NES Memories: WWF Wrestlemania

It's easy to look back now and say WWF Wrestlemania for the Nintendo Entertainment System stinks, sucks, and licks butts.  Not to me, however.  I recently picked up this NES gem at a Pawn Shop for a measly $2, with enough money left over to get Demon Sword and Double Dragon III for under $12.  I try to limit myself to spending ten bucks each time I go out adventuring for my favorite gray cartridge goodies, which usually means at least two games, and keeps me from going broke.  I had serious 8-bit fever for WWF Wrestlemania as a kid, who like everyone else, loved Hulk Hogan and his 24-inch pythons, brother.  I didn't own this one when I was a kid but had many hardcore tournaments at a friend's house with four or five other buddies.  When my friend Jay first popped the game pak ( I still love that deceptive nomenclature, Nintendo) and a huge picture of the Hulkster's face flashed on the set-up screen I was blown away.  I couldn't believe the graphics were that realistic and also couldn't imagine how home video games could get better.  (Quick side note: I had this same thought on nearly every new NES game I played.  It was just so cool to finally have arcade-like graphics on the Nintendo to play at home).  My friends and I then drew cards to pick wrestlers--lowest card equaled first pick, which was always Hulk Hogan.  Although there are only six wrestlers in the game, Acclaim at least chose six of the most popular of that era: Hogan, Andre the Giant, Honky Tonk Man, Bam Bam Bigelow, Macho Man Randy Savage, and The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.  Dibiase was always picked last--most likely because you didn't have Virgil's help outside the ring in this game.  We played tournaments one after another, which usually led to everybody getting to use Hulk Hogan at least once.  We cheered for the Hulkster's theme song "Real American," a cool little 8-bit rendition.  We overlooked the fact that Hogan's trunks weren't yellow and were some weird kind of red/pink, and that there weren't any "real" wrestling moves except for punching and kicking.  We also threw many controllers because it was difficult to have your wrestler pin your opponent due to funky controls.  After a few tournaments we'd take a break to eat a snack my friend Jay invented--chocolate syrup melted over marshmallows.  Directions: dump marshmallows on large plate and douse with chocolate syrup.  Microwave for 45 seconds.  Enjoy, and be sure to drink it down with some Mountain Dew.   

Twenty-plus years later that is what I remember about WWF Wrestlemania.  Hanging out with friends to play a rocking Wrestling game.  Before last week I had not played the game since that brief period where Wrestlemania on the NES was all we could think about.  I had read a few reviews, mostly bashing it for a few of the reasons I mentioned above, and the scores were around the 2-4 out of 10.  I won't say this is a great game, far from it, I'm not even sure I'd call it a good game.  But fond memories sometimes outweigh shoddy NES games.  Not exactly a AAA NES game, but fun to pop into the console after a few blows into the cartridge, just to remember how it felt when Hulkamania was runnin' wild on the Nintendo Entertainment System. 

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