Demo’d: Fire Pro Wrestling
Fire Pro Wrestling was one of my much-loved titles for the Game Boy Advanced. Imitating Sabu from ECW, shiny Aladdin pants intact, I suplexed my way through the ranks. It also featured a link-up multiplayer mode that would always disconnect in silence mid-match and replace the other player with a bot, both of us thinking we’d beaten each other in the same fight. Still, great game.
Whilst preserving the same scope of customisation this latest version of Fire Pro Wrestling is a different kettle of fish. From memory I can’t recall if chokeholds were absent from earlier versions but I found none in this XBLA one. When an adversary is downed pressing grapple will kick them in the knee and compel them to pop up, ready for action.
This is a much more family-friendly take on the Fire Pro format. Your avatar is used as the template for your wrestler, and those of your friends in offline tag-team matches. You can cover up with a range of outfits but removing in-game facial and body appearence customisation does bring its own limitations. In skin-baring costumes the avatar also wears a skin coloured muscle top, making not only a fashion faux pas but as if they’re wearing several layers at once.
As mentioned, there’s a vast amount of customisation available. Between cash rewards and experience gained new hats, abilities, glasses, pants, entrance music, taunts, attacks, grapples, specials and more can be unlocked and equipped. This is where the most fun during the trial was. Discovering new moves, assigning them to the skill set and then unleashing them during a match is what Fire Pro excels at.
The move list varies upon those selected pre-match. For example, four frontal grapples are hot-keyed to the face buttons. When successfully grabbing an opponent both wrestlers must press one of these buttons before the timer runs out. The other wrestler will parry your move if they select the same option, or will be slammed with the attack you choose if they don’t.
These moves and more can all be practiced in the gym. Here a Rocky-esque number plays from the speakers and even a look-a-like of his coach makes an appearance. Once confident, there are fights to attend, from casual events, championships and street fights (still in a ring, naturally).
There’s clearly a lot of content here but it lacks oomph. From the trial it would seem Fire Pro Wrestling has lost the gritty edge that used to hold my attention.