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: WCW/NWO Thunder
Developer: Inland Productions
Release Date: 01/12/1998
System Released On: PSX
Who Nominated The Game: Aaron Sirois. As a lifelong wrestling fan, I’ve played more wrestling games than I can remember. While there have been a ton of crappy examples of the genre, none have stuck out in my mind more than Thunder.
Why Was It Nominated:
I’m going to examine the game by pointing out reasons it should have been good, and then explaining how the game mucked it up.
Reason 1: The game has a huge roster.
There are a vast number of WCW personalities. They’ve got them all, from Hogan and Goldberg to Alex Wright and Disco Inferno. On top of that, you also get the commentators and the Nitro girls. Heck, the game goes the extra mile by adding in the development staff, a pirate, a squire, and even some barnyard animals. As such, most of the roster is crap. On top of that, there are only two kinds of movesets in the game. Each character is either a heavyweight or a lightweight. The only difference is that the lightweights can do frankensteiners and head scissors. Else-wise, each wrestler/barnyard animal has the same limited moveset. Each character has three or four “special moves”Â as well, but most of these are the same crappy Russian leg sweeps or back suplexes. I’ll get back to these later.
Reason 2: The game added new gameplay modes such as a cage match.
That might be true, but the basic controls make it so you can win each match by following the same tactic. All you have to do is use the test of strength and mash the circle button. This will drain your opponent’s life and raise yours. When they’re in the red, hit them with any random move to knock them down. Then pin them/climb out of the cage. Congratulations. You just won using any wrestler against any other wrestler in any type of match in less than a minute.
Reason 3: You can change the affiliation of any character. Hogan can join the Horsemen, Raven can join the NWO, and so on and so forth.
All this does is change a silly little icon on the character select screen and perhaps change the shirt the wrestler wears in the ring. Considering the graphics are so horrible that you can barely tell what you’re looking at, this doesn’t mean much.
Reason 4: OK, so the movesets are limited, but each character has three or four special moves!
You might be technically right, but most special moves are nothing but basic moves that aren’t covered in the basic movesets. Russian leg sweeps aren’t that special. Now, each character does have a finisher and/or signature moves. The real problem is that to perform any of these moves, you have to know the correct button combination. The manual supplies these for only the first twenty or so characters. For the rest, you have to either look them up online or own a strategy guide. The chances of figuring them out through random guessing are remotely low, since they could be any combination of d-pad and face button presses. So, if you want to perform a special move with Glacier, prepare to look it up and study it.
Reason 5: It isn’t the worst wrestling game ever?
In my book, it is. The only game that could realistically compete with it is Wrestlemania XXI, and that’s only because I never played it. I’ve played TNA Impact and I’ve played the crappy WWF NES games, and they’re all better. They may not be all that fun, but they’re not nearly as broken. More importantly, they’re not as shameful.
All in Favor:
Aaron Sirois: As much as I hate TNA Impact, I’d have to say Thunder is the worst wrestling game I’ve ever played. (I never did get to try WM XXI though.) It was a broken, easily manipulated mess that couldn’t entertain me for five seconds, let alone several hours.
The only, and I mean only, thing that I liked about this game was the amusing ten second promos that each wrestler did to try and convince you to pick them. Apart from Raven. He didn’t care whether you picked him or not.
Alex Lucard: WCW Thunder pretty much has its rep because a blogger named Scotsman went off on it for years every chance he got, so it achieved a dubious fame with wrestling fans. The truth is, it’s nowhere near as bad as say, TNA Impact, Wrestlemania XXI, tag team Wrestling, Royal Rumble (arcade) and WCW Backstage Assault. It’s Basically an uglier Nitro with a very large roster and more of an arcade fighting style gameplay. it’s not a good game by any means, but its awfulness has been exaggerated over time and there are far worse wrestling games out there. At least you could PLAY Thunder, unlike WMXXI. That alone makes me feel Thunder deserves to be spared.
Christopher Bowen: I actually cut my teeth in online communities at Scotsmanality, a place that could best be described as 4chan with fewer rules. This was a community that would dig up personal information – including credit cards – on people it didn’t like just for kicks. The community died out when Scotsman – Graeme McGaw – married, had a kid and became domesticated, but its spirit lives on in a sense with the “REVIEW WCW THUNDER” meme which, to give you an indication of what kind of raucous community this was, became “REVIEW WCW N*****” after awhile. There’s some evidence that, at least in wrestling circles, this notoriety helped the perception that WCW Thunder was the worst wrestling game in history.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a bad game. But is it one of the worst of all time? I don’t think so.
To get into the Hall of Shame, you have to be legendarily bad, and Thunder doesn’t quite cut it. It didn’t hurt wrestling games – if anything, it was just indicative of how bad WCW had become at that point – and didn’t make any “worst of” lists outside of maybe 411. I usually dislike comparisons like this because they’re based on perception, but I do believe that the notoriety that WCW Thunder had with The Scotsman – who was a prominent IWC personality back then, but on the other hand, so was Hyatte, so take that for what it’s worth – changed how the game was viewed by the public.
WCW Thunder is a bad game, but it’s not bad enough to sit beside games like Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust.
Mark B: Well, I wrote a column about how terrible the game is, so you’d think I’d be on board, but we already have our requisite wrestling game in the Hall as of this point and I’m not jumping up and down to induct another one.
What? No one said it had to be a good reason.
In a year I’ll be willing to consider this thing. At this point, wrestling video games are not exactly a huge genre with lots of new releases every year, so I’m of the impression that it should be spaced out a bit.
Also, I only paid a dollar for the game so that tends to justify a lot.
Result: 1 In Favor, 3 Opposed, 25% Approval = SPARED
Conclusion: Well this is really a kick in the teeth. I’m all alone on this one. I find that weird considering that Mark called this the worst wrestling game ever. Also, to both Alex and Chris, I have no idea who this “Scotsman”Â is. No one built my hatred of the game up in my mind by constantly calling it out. I didn’t even have steady access to the internet at the time. I learned all by myself that this game is atrocious, and I’ll continue to stand by that hatred until the day I die. Anyways, this now makes me zero for three in terms of nominations for either hall. That’s just depressing.
Next Week: Someone decided to make a Dungeons & Dragons fighting game. That may not sound like the worst idea ever, but it made for an awful game. Awful enough to make the Hall? Tune in next week to find out.