This one has been at the forefront of my mind for a while now, since it is one of my N64 favourites and a game truly worthy of a review. Plus, something has to fill Okami's gap, as I really want to have a bash at that one next, alas I haven't completed it yet (I swear, one minute you think it's the end of the game, next minute you have a whole new area laid out to explore, it's madness I tells ya!).
As far as Nintendo 64 classics come, No Mercy isn't exactly the one that jumps to everyone's mind. Maybe it's because of the (supposedly) superior Playstation Smackdown games at the time, or the old tired argument of 'OMG! Wrestling is sooo fake! lets not bother with any of it!', I don't know why people think like that, but if this review gets through to at least one person on how great No Mercy truly is, then it was worth the effort.
There were quite a few Wrestling games on the N64, and AKI was behind most of them. AKI's superb (and somewhat brutal) fighting system can be seen today in the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox Def Jam games, but arguebly, the system reached it's full potential in the N64's WWF No Mercy.
In a change of tack, I'm going to outline the features of the game first, since that will shed more light on the rest of the game.
Firstly, there's the Exhibition mode, with Single, Tag, Triple Threat, Cage, and Hnadicap modes.
To complement that, there's the Royal Rumble mode, and Pay Per View, where you can make your own Main Event matches. King of the Ring is like a knockout tournament, Guest Referee is self-explanatory, as is Ladder Match, and the Ironman Match consists of whomever can get the most pinfalls or submissions in a set time.
The real meat of the game is in Championship mode, No Mercy's Story-like mode. You choose a belt to aim for, and fight your way to the top. The cutscenes take inspiration from the real storylines of the WWF at that time, and also work on a different slant to usual; if you lose a match, you go onto one storyline, and winning a match sends you onto another. Complementing Championship mode, is Survival mode, that works similarly to Ironman, although you'll have 99 pissed wrestlers to deal with.
And lastly, there is the Smackdown Mall, where you can buy items to use on your character in Create a Character mode.
The first thing that will strike you is the in-game graphics. Granted, they aren't the best of all time, but they function well, and don't get in the way.
Out of all the Nintendo 64 games, it is No Mercy that (in this reviewer's most humble of opinions) controls the best. Not once will you feel hampered by the control setup, as the N64 pad will let you do an incredible number of things in the ring. You can pick up weapons, initiate between strong a weak attacks with no hassle, throw opponents over the ropes, Pile-drive them through the announcer's table, smash their head into the Steel Ring Apron, utilise flying attacks, put them into a Tree-of-woe position at the turnbuckle (look it up), run and jump over the ropes in spectacular flying moves, the list is almost endless. The way it works so flawlessly is incredible, and will make gamers wish that AKI would do another WWE game. If there ever was a full-on comparison of Gameplay-vs-Graphics, this game would be the poster-child of Gameplay.
Due to the unfortunate compression of sound on cartridges at the time, the msuic in this game isn't too good. The in-ring tunes are fine, but the wrestler intro music sounds like it's from a tape-recorder, which it probably is.
As far as Longevity goes, you have all the afore-mentioned gameplay modes, plus full 4 player functionality in most of them, so this game will last you months. And thats not to mention all the other ways of play that gamers can cook up. Think the Smash Bros of Wresting games, and you're not far off.
If you have an N64, and see this game anywhere, you have to get it, I can't stress that enough. The chances of this game appearing on Virtual Console are slim to none, so get it while you still can.
Intro to the game below. Retro FTW!!
A little tip to all present-No Mercy owners, get some Ringbells into the
ring, and this game suddenly becomes the funniest thing ever!