WWF Road to Wrestlemania (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Nick Cheesman 24.12.2003

If you are a GBA owner with a passion for WWE wrestling then it will not be unknown to you of the atrocity of past Wrestling games on the GBA. What held them back from being enjoyable affairs where not just down to the limits they could achieve through sound and graphics, but down to the real lack or depth of gameplay within the games themselves. This said, Road to Wrestlemania has in no way made a much more in-depth outing, and is no way near in comparison to the detail of Fire Pro Wrestling, but it has set out to make the gameplay and controls simple, but enjoyable.

Although somewhat outdated, Road to Wrestlemania is obviously based on the World Wrestling Federation, so in game there are several recognizable arenas to play through, including RAW, Smack Down, King of the Ring and, of course Wrestlemania. A very key attraction of Road to Wrestlemania is the amount of modes and game options available to play through, as well as a selection of twenty four different WWF superstars to play as, from Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertake, Kane and more of the well known wrestlers, all with their correct Titantron entrances, theme music and finishing moves.

Even though this bountiful variety immediately represents a basis of re-playability, as with the past Game Boy games, Road to Wrestlemania is greatly held back by its visuals. Fortunately this is not seen in the in-game visuals. Staying true to THQ's wrestling routes, Road to Wrestlemania goes down the route of not aiming at realistic graphics, but instead choose to opt for cartoon visuals, as THQ did with WWF No mercy. Not only do these greatly suit the GBA, but are also compliments to the great WWF games on the SNES, such as WWF Royal Rumble. The character sprites are very detailed, with excellent contours of the muscles and shadows under their arm pits. They all appear colorful and vibrant, but sadly have quite blurred features. Each wrestler is modeled slightly differently, be it with skin colour, hair and facial hair, and attire, but sadly height has not been taken into account so the token small wrestler X-Pac, matches the looming Undertaker, which is a bit of a disappointment, but nothing too serious.

Screenshot for WWF Road to Wrestlemania on Game Boy Advance

The animation of each sprite ranges from attractive; too quite poor. Seeing moves or finishers performed is a joy, as they appear very fluid and match up to how the look in real life excellently. However at times they seem very rash and rough, such as when your characters fall over, or miss a grapple or a kick. And since this is when you fail, the whole occurrence is most irritating. The crowds are also drawn in a similar fashion, all being colourful, but a little dull in places. And furthermore there are little or no crowd reactions or responses that make the WWF feel less. The arenas are detailed nicely if also not a little plain, but there is very little difference between them all, except for the logo, and possibly an alternate turnbuckle and rope colour. In between and before matches are small cut scenes such as a still picture of Vince MacMahon informing you, he has stripped you off your title. Or the entrance videos of each wrestler. These are merely still pictures that look extremely unimpressive and very poor.

Sadly the music does add nothing to these poor entrance videos, with quite muffled, and repetitive medleys of each wrestlers theme, or as close as THQ could achieve. The in-game music is exceptionally poor, being a simple track, repeated over and over, along with poor sounds when you connect a punch or kick. As there is very little differing between each sound. Even more disappointing is a lack of real pain, when you throw your opponent on the mat. If a little more strength was added then it would of added a greater feel and greater sense of depth.

Screenshot for WWF Road to Wrestlemania on Game Boy Advance

Depth is however found in the gameplay. While the initial controls present no depth, A and B controlling grapple maneuvers, and L and R allowing the character to run off the ropes or pull a weapon out from under the ring. You can then use the D-pad to pull off grapple moves when in grapple, as well as performing finishing moves when your adrenaline metre has reached full. Grapples also rely on pausing between the grapple itself and the move, and then timing your move so to make it sure it is successful. Then of course there are alternate moves you can perform such as throwing your opponent off the ropes and clothes lining them, or pulling off a takedown, or pulling off submissions while they are down, or going off the turnbuckle for a high risk maneuver. There is quite an array of moves on offer; they still lack much in the way of technical moves. Not at first in depth, but the idea of adrenaline is key.

Should you take a heavy beating your adrenaline will go down, and as in real life you will not be able to successfully pull off as many moves. Likewise, should you give your opponent a thrashing they will be less susceptible to reversing a move. While the counters and reversals are rare, they do add to the game, but the idea of having to play tactically, and not just scrapping through hoping to get the three count in less than thirty seconds. The factor of exhaustion also plays a keen part, as first weak moves must be performed, to gradually allow a finisher to be pulled off. Should you try to do a finisher early, it will most likely be reversed. Each wrestler has a different amount of adrenaline and perks up a different times in a match, so it takes try throughs to find who suits you best.

Screenshot for WWF Road to Wrestlemania on Game Boy Advance

The main aspect of Road to Wrestlemania is the career mode, where you play week by week to try and win all of the five titles. While there five modes to play as, such as Royal Rumble, Pay Per View, Ironman, King of the Ring and Exhibition, involving Triple Threat matches, Fatal Four ways, handicap, cage and tag team matches. All this along with a survival mode to test your stamina, means it is a most involving game, and the four player multiplayer is truly a great haul and enjoyable throughout.

Screenshot for WWF Road to Wrestlemania on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Wrestling games will always only be played by the fans of the franchise, but if you are a WWF fan then this will prove to be a worthy game. Although the character models and sound means the WWF feel is somewhat lost amongst the cartoon surface, the involving gameplay along with proper finishers and grappling moves, means it proves to be fun, though set back by its presentation.

Developer

THQ

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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