Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.
Game: WWE Wrestlemania XXI
Developer: Studio Gigante
Release Date: 04/21/2005
System Released On: Microsoft Xbox
Who Nominated The Game: I did. Your friendly neighborhood lord and master of Diehard GameFAN himself.
Why Was It Nominated: Because it’s the worst wrestling video game ever made. A game that is so legendary in its awfulness that WCW Thunder and TNA Impact! looked liked GOTY contenders by comparison. My original review of the game back in 2005 was pretty cantankerous and was (at that time) the lowest score I had ever given a video game.
So what all was wrong with it? It crashed. A lot. In 2005, this was nigh unheard of for a console game. People revolted just on this screaming about how Microsoft was going to turn console gaming into the glitch-filled crash fest that PC gaming had become. Of course those people turned out to be right, but it wasn’t Microsoft’s fault as much as it was gamers for buying titles that needed to be severely patched, but I digress. You had a story mode where your character was a complete asshole no matter what you did, where Eric Bischoff had necromantic powers (seriously) and raised Andre the Giant from the dead. You had a game that promised online play and then…the game was released so buggy that you couldn’t actually get on to Xbox Live with it. Eventually a patch was released…which you had to get on Xbox Live with in order to download it. HO HO HO HO. You had by far the worst CAW system in the history of WWF/WWE games. Not only were the choices awful and the system limited, but a CAW could only be used either online or offline, not both. Yes, you had to choose one or the other. WTF?
There is nothing redeeming about WWE Wrestlemania XXI. NOTHING. It has definitely earned its place in gaming history as the worst video game of its entire genre. Man, even thinking about this game’s existence makes me ANGRY. Like David Bruce Banner angry. However hate alone isn’t enough to get a game into the Hall of Shame. It takes votes. Let’s see how things went down.
All in Favor:
Alex Lucard: Ah yes. The game that nearly drove this proud member of the Straight Edge Society (long before CM Punk was around) to drink. I can still remember the horrible nightmare that was this game on my original Xbox. It was buggy. The controls were awful. The story mode was the worst I’ve ever seen in a wrestling game and it also earned an earmark in video gaming history as the first console game that actually needed a patch in order to properly run. Of course this was also at a time where only a fraction of XBX owners actually had Xbox Live and thus could get the patch, which made it worthless. Disgusting. This was the first game I ever remember Gamestop and EB Games outright banning in terms of trade-ins because it was so buggy and poorly made. This is the game that I hated so much, i had to do a one-off parody column written as “The Macho Man” Randy Savage in order to get through the game.
Looks this game was so bad it won our 2005 WORST Game of the Year awards. This is simply a prime example of an awful game in every respect and I’m honestly shocked the WWF/E stayed with THQ after this abomination. I’ve already bitched enough about it in the opening, so now it’s someone else’s turn.
Guy Desmarais: I’m not quite sure why my friend had this game. Sure, he knew I liked wrestling, but he does not, and never really has. Somehow, when I got to his place one day, this game was waiting for me. We tried it, and didn’t really make it past the exhibition mode. I have no idea if the season mode is as bad as what I saw from the game, but from my point of view, this game’s gets in on its atrocious gameplay alone. I have been playing wrestling games for a long time, but somehow I could never figure this one out. We didn’t know how to get on the top rope, how to execute a finisher, or even how to even exit the ring. All we did is punch and kick each other for a while. Even with the instruction manual, there was nothing to be done.
I know what a bad wrestling game is supposed to be. After all, I own WWF Raw for PC, a game which does not possess many redeeming qualities. This is different. Wrestlemania XXI just might be the worst wrestling game in history. Worst than that NES game that paused when you grappled an opponent and let you choose your move from a list.
Mark B.: At this point in the console wars, THQ was releasing different wrestling games for each of the available consoles, much like they had been doing during the last console generation. The prior consoles had been receiving generally fantastic wrestling games, between the various AKI created wrestling games on the N64 and the Yukes developed Smackdown series on the PSX, so it stood to reason that doing this again would be a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, THQ stopped using AKI’s services for console wrestling games at this point, so while the PS2 Smackdown titles were still pretty solid, the Gamecube was receiving hacked down Yukes games that were nowhere near as good as their PS2 counterparts, while the Xbox titles were being developed by Anchor, a company who didn’t seem to have a very good idea of how a wrestling game should play. That said, Raw 2, their second wrestling game for the Xbox, featured some fantastic ideas, including a career mode that allowed for segment-by-segment interactivity, allowing for the player to call out a wrestler, ambush someone, rest up, and so on, as well as the ability for up to four players to compete in this mode with custom characters, complete with custom theme music. The theory was that, if Anchor could fix the odd control issues and AI problems the game was plagued by, Raw 3 would be a masterpiece capable of competing on even footing with the Smackdown franchise.
We never got to find out if this would be the case, as the Xbox wrestling games were handed off to Studio Gigante after Raw 2, which gave us Wrestlemania XXI.
Now, let us note that prior to the development of Wrestlemania XXI, Studio Gigante had given the world exactly ONE game, Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus. Let us also note that this one game was, in a word, abysmal. While the game featured somewhat graphic and believable physical damage to characters and clothing, the game was stiffer than Jerry Lawler in an all-girls school, and to say that the mechanics were often unfriendly would be a kindness. The company swore that they had a good idea of what needed to be done going in, however, so wrestling fans were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt going in, as the hope was still there that SOMEONE would make a good wrestling game for something other than the PS2.
The end result, unfortunately, was a mess of epic proportions that was horrendous on every possible level. While the game looked moderately okay, the controls were stiff and unfriendly, the mechanics often did not come even remotely close to working, the character creation options and moves available were incredibly limited, the game was plagued with glitches from start to finish, and the story mode outright sucked. Compared to this game, Raw 2 was a masterpiece in every possible respect, and the fact that we were denied a possibly good Raw 3 so that we could be provided with this shitshow is sour grapes indeed. Hell, I can’t even take solace in the fact that Studio Gigante went out of business after this game because John Tobias ended up being hired back by fucking Midway to make more Mortal Kombat games after this, thus proving there is truly no justice in this world. Screw this game.
Ashe Collins: Back in the day, like four years ago and before that, Wrestling games were my thing so I’ve tried any number of them. I have no idea whose brilliance this game resulted from, but it should have stayed there. This is one of those games that made me glad I didn’t have an X-Box. The controls were awful, it was a button mashing extravaganza and after the great Raw games we’d gotten, it was insulting to say the least.
A.J. Hess: Wrestling fans are a picky bunch. We demand large rosters, multiple match-types, a solid create-a-wrestler feature, and the controls had better be perfect. Usually we are happy with three out of four. With Wrestlemania XXI, I think we got the first one. Sloppy, broken controls plague this title. I mean actually broken too, not just bad. This game was one of the first to force a developer to come out and actually apologize for delivering a wrecked, damaged, incomplete product.
None. Everyone hates this game. If you ever find anyone who says something nice or positive about the game, much less that likes it, run away very fast for they are obviously body snatchers or aliens wearing human skin in hopes of eating all our dryer lint.
Result: 5 In Favour, 0 Opposed, 100% Approval = SHAMED
Conclusion: The worst wrestling video game ever becomes the fourth ever game inducted into the Hall of Shame. There’s no more fitting place for it to be. We feel your pain if you purchased this game all those years ago.
Next Week: A Legend of Zelda spin-off that never made it to North American shores get the treatment. No, really.