Catching Up With 2009: Legends of Wrestlemania

I’m sure there are at least a couple of you that read my last column. Those few of you may recall that I teased this week’s game as being some sort of RPG. So, upon seeing the title for the column or any of the pics, you’re probably wondering if you missed an edition or something. Worry not. The game I teased will be covered. There were just too many reasons that I had to delay it a couple of weeks. Firstly, I realized a couple of days ago that we are a single digit number of days away from Wrestlemania XXVI. I thought I’d write about something to acknowledge that fact. Most of the other reasons deal with me being too busy playing through UFC 2009 Undisputed, Bioshock, and most recently, God of War III. I had already completely beaten LoW. Therefore, it wasn’t very hard to commit myself to writing a column about it.

Anyways, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a pretty huge wrestling fan. My first paycheck was spent on a replica replica winged eagle championship belt. It was three hundred dollars and I have no regrets. I grew up with posters of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior on my wall. The first game we bought for our NES was Wrestlemania. I remember when the Undertaker debuted and when Brother Love used to terrorize guests with his ridiculously red face.

That’s why when Legends of Wrestlemania was announced, I was ecstatic. It had a roster full of old favorites like Big Bossman, Jim Duggan, and Mr. Perfect. It had the ability to relive classic matches through an interactive mode. Most importantly, it was on next gen consoles, which meant that I could change all of the entrance music so that it was correct. Bossman comes out to “Hard Times,” not “Security,” damn it!

The Legends of Wrestling games left bitter tastes in my mouth. RVD as a legend? Really? That junkie/spot monkey couldn’t lace up the boots of a real legend. I’m kind of getting off topic, aren’t I? So, would this game suffer the same fate, even though it was made by Yukes?

Let’s catch up!

What’s The Game?

The game is Legends of Wrestling. I’m covering the PS3 version.

Who Made It?

The game was developed by Yukes and published by THQ. This is pretty much the case of every WWE game for the past decade.

When Did It Come Out?

It was released on March 24th, 2009. It was just in time for the twenty fifth anniversary of Wrestlemania.

Where’s The Review?

Legends of Wrestlemania

Why Didn’t You Play It in 2009?

That should be fairly obvious to anyone who’s used to reading my stuff. I didn’t have a PS3 until this past February. Legends of Wrestlemania was actually one of the first games I picked up. I believe that was only because I wanted a wrestling game and it was a mere twenty bucks new. That fit in nicely with how much (or little) money I had at the time.

Of course, I had meant to have a PS3 in 2009, but the loss of my job and my complete inability to save money killed that pretty quickly.

You know, I bitch about that a lot. A friend pointed that out to me. I promise to try and tone that down from now on. I’m pretty sure you’ve all got the picture by now.

So, What Did You Think?

The gameplay isn’t like anything I expected or wanted for all that matter. I think Alex praised it in his review as a return to arcade style gameplay akin to Wrestlefest. I say it is an easily broken system that isn’t all that much better than something like WCW Thunder.

Want to know what I mean? This is how you can win almost every fight. You wait for the opponent to attack. You reverse it. Then you initiate a chain grapple. This tasks you to press a button when the prompt appears. In all but the highest difficulty, you shouldn’t ever lose to the computer. Repeat this process a couple of times and your momentum meter should be filled. After that, just reverse and perform a few strong grapples. Then perform a finisher. Your opponent will be down for the count and the match will be over in less than two minutes.

On Legend difficulty, the computer will win some of the quick time events, but you can still pretty much get by using this tactic. The only times you will have problems is when there are at least two opponents as opposed to one. Then, you have to deal with the computer breaking up every pin. It is nearly impossible to get someone down and then deal with another wrestler before pinning the first before one or both of them get up. I’d suggest merely using a wrestler with a submission finisher. If you time that right, they will always submit, as these moves cannot be broken up.

Another problem I have is with the roster. There are a lot of great guys in the game, but there isn’t nearly enough. The game has thirty-eight wrestlers and a mere four Managers. Off the top of my head, I’ll list a group that not only would significantly expand the roster, but help make it less dependent on the first few Wrestlemanias.

Randy Savage
Ricky Steamboat
Tito Santana
Rick Martel
Ax
Smash
Owen Hart
Kane
Razor Ramon
Earthquake
IRS
Marty Janetty
Jim Cornette
“The Doctor of Style” Slick

This would bring the roster up to fifty and the managers up to six. It stays within the game’s limits of the first fifteen Wrestlemania’s and opens up a ton of matches for the Relive, Rewrite, and Redefine mode. The one guy that was left out that bother me the most was Tito. Here’s a man that was at the first nine events, is in the hall of fame, and he doesn’t make the list? How does that happen? I know why Savage didn’t make the game, but Tito should have been a surefire inclusion.

Speaking of the Relive, Rewrite, and Redefine, I can’t help but be disappointed by them. The Relive Mode is awesome. You need to recreate key moments from matches using event specific grapples and mini-games. I only wish there were more of these. The other two modes are a wash. The objectives are boring and merely waste your time. There’s nothing to make them stand out from each other. Sadly, these two modes are where you’ll find everyone that isn’t Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, or Stone Cold. You’d think the idea of Andre the Giant and Big John Studd in a Hell in the Cell match would be nifty. You’d be wrong.

The best thing about these modes are the recaps that play before each match. It does remind you, though, about how many old matches ended in DQ or double count out. That way, the good guy could win, but the bad guy kept the title. That isn’t the kind of ending you’d want at the biggest PPV event of the year.

Perhaps the biggest downer of the game is the surprisingly small number of match types available. I’m used to the Smackdown games where you have dozens of match types. Here, there are only about eleven and a small number have variants. There’s no hardcore match, tables match, TLC, elimination chamber, inferno, or even a three on one match. There isn’t any women in the game either. That just makes me sad. Where’s Wendi Richter, The Fabulous Moolah, and Sensational Sherri? They were as much a part of Wrestlemania as most of the roster.

The graphics are another sore topic for me. I think the Gamespot reviewer put it best when he said that it looked like the wrestlers were smuggling meats under their skin. There’s very little definition and a lot of the roster is unrealistically proportioned. Hogan is much bigger than he ever was. Oddly enough, Andre is actually smaller than he should be. The crowd has blur effect over them that doesn’t do nearly enough to hide the ugly models. It hurts when the camera pans over to one of them during an entrance.

I’m not exactly a big fan of the game if you haven’t noticed. It isn’t all bad. It can definitely give you that grand sense of nostalgia when you hear Howard Finkel calling out names or whenever Hogan drops the leg. Then you realize that JR and the King are giving the commentary when your brain is telling you that it should be Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Then you also realize that that the commentary is often flat out wrong or that the Fink will state the rules of the match multiple times. The missteps just pile up and make the game a less fulfilling experience than it should have been.

On the plus side, you can import the entire male roster from Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 into the game and all of the trophies are easy to get. Actually, this game is a trophy hunter’s dream. Of the twenty or so trophies, only two are bronze and all of them can be acquired with little skill. Hell, you get two trophies for doing the same thing. It’s a small consolation.

I could go on and on. I guess I liked the game enough, but it is really one of the worst wrestling games to come out in years. If it wasn’t for TNA Impact, it would be the worst.

What Score Would You Have Given It?

I’m thinking the score would either end up being Below Average or Mediocre. It would be a lot lower if nostalgia wasn’t tugging at my heart strings every time I turned on the game. It could have been something truly special with some tweaks. As it is, it is still better than Legends of Wrestling.

But really, is being better than Acclaim really all that much to be proud of? That’s kind of like taking pride in being able to tie your shoes.

Would It Have Made Your Top Ten List?

Ha Ha!

No.

How Much Does It Go For, In Case I Want It?

I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating I suppose. You can find the game new most places for a mere twenty dollars. That isn’t much to ask, since old time wrestling fans will get a kick out of it. If you go the used route, it probably won’t cost much more than fifteen bucks unless Gamestop is feeling particularly evil that day.

Unless you’re really jonesing to play as some of the guys on the roster, I wouldn’t really bother with it.

Final Thoughts?

I can think of so many great things they could have done with this game.

They could have made it so each character had multiple attires from throughout their career. Depending on which era you chose, that wrestler would have different stats. Hunter Hearst Helmsly wouldn’t be anything special, but when he upgraded to Triple H, he would suddenly become the cerebral assassin we all know and love. Hogan would become slower and more weapon friendly in his NWO gear. You get the idea.

By adding just a few more wrestlers, they could have added a ton of matches to the Relive modes. Think how great it would be to suddenly have the Owen/Bret match become a submission match or have Shawn best Razor in the ladder match? And those are both just from Wrestlemania X! Heck, if they had just went up to Wrestlemania XX instead of XV, it would have been so much better.

Overall, I’m glad I have this game, and not just for the easy trophies. There aren’t too many games out there that give me classic Bossman and Koko B. Ware to play around with. For someone who grew up on the WWF and learned to love the WWE, this game was worth it, even if it wasn’t that good.

Next Time: I swear I’ll get to that PSP game I hinted at last time. It will be Adventures to Go! I promise you!

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