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WWE Wrestlemania XIX

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:  Yuke's
Publisher:  THQ
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Wrestling
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  3-4-04

Nintendo fans may not know it, but Yuke’s has actually worked on several wrestling games for THQ in the past…only they’ve all been Smackdown! titles on the PlayStation and PS2 with the exception of Wrestlemania X8.  With Aki moving on to work with EA, THQ was forced to utilize Yuke’s again for WWE Wrestlemania XIX.  The result is a game that’s still not as good as the Aki’s best on the N64 (WWF No Mercy), but a worthy wrestling game all the same.

If you’ve played just about any post-16 bit wrestling game, you’ll feel at home with the controls here.  XIX features your standard counter system, with different buttons for grappling and striking as well as a counter button for each.  Players can also work the crowd with several different poses, which help to build up a meter that eventually allows for finishing move combos.  XIX actually seems deeper in this respect, as each wrestler has several different finishers that can be utilized depending on specific circumstances (ex: where an opponent is in relation to the player).  If this is your first wrestling game it’ll take a while to get used to it all, but the manual is well done and before long the game mostly becomes second nature.

Unfortunately, one trait Yuke’s should’ve brought over from the Smackdown! franchise but didn’t is the season mode.  Instead, we have a Revenge mode that has the player assisting Stephanie McMahon (as if that isn’t bad enough) in getting revenge on her father Vince.  This takes place in one of several different locales, including a shopping mall and construction site among others.  Players will have to meet a variety of objectives to advance, taking on various WWE workers, security officers, other on-site people, and of course wrestlers in the process.  While solid enough, I would’ve preferred a more traditional season mode where most of the action takes place in the ring under actual wrestling rules.  Other gameplay modes include King of the Ring, Tutorial (training with Al “J.O.B. Squad” Snow), Exhibition, Shopzone (buy stuff with money earned in Revenge mode), and Create a Superstar.  All standard stuff for a wrestling game, and pretty much what you’d expect too.

Graphically XIX doesn’t wow with special effects, but is very solid in all areas.  The different arenas are well done; although the problems that have always plagued wrestling games in this area are still present (namely flat cutout crowds and lackluster lighting.  Every wrestler looks pretty good, although animation is a bit stiff in some places and silky smooth in others.  Wrestlers take damage realistically, grabbing various body parts as they’re damaged and bleeding like a stuck pig (as Good Ol’ JR would say).  The entrances are spot-on relatively speaking, and there are several types of cutscenes that play during a match whenever a big move is pulled off (such as Undertaker’s Last Ride being replayed from four different angles).

Sound effects are composed of various crowd cheers and taunts, authentic entrance music (replaced with generic when it’s licensed), and generic in-match rock.  Strikes and mat sounds sound good enough, and the sound of a barrel crashing into an opponent is satisfying.

Highs:

  • Tried and true gameplay wrestling fans know and love.
  • Slick graphics.
  • The entrances are good, as I was particularly impressed with Matt Hardy’s.
  • The Create a Superstar mode is deep, although I don’t personally care about it.

Lows:

  • Season mode takes place outside of the ring, mostly fighting generic security officers and construction workers.  The objectives are OK, but I'd prefer more interaction between wrestlers and other personalities.
  • Not an innovative game for sure.

Final Verdict:

If you like WWE, this is the game for you.  It’s the best wrestling game on GameCube (unless you count Def Jam Vendetta), and good enough to be a recommended purchase for true fans even if you already own WWE Wrestlemania X8.

Overall Score: 7.8

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