WWE Wrestlemania X8

Game Boy Advance

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 7.5

Gameplay: 5

Overall: 6.5

When you go into a game like this, you certainly can't expect WWF: No Mercy quality gameplay to be pulled off in a portable. It's just not going to happen (at least in this generation). Instead, designers need to really pack on the aesthetics to impress games, and for the most part, THQ has succeeded.

Taking the same engine that powered the previous years mediocre Road to Wrestlemania, this years game has been refined and slowed down making it a tad more realistic. There's a larger variety of moves to choose from, but too many characters share the standard attacks. It's still an improvement over the button mashers WWF fans became accustomed to in the 16-bit days (thanks to Acclaim), but the AI ruins any believability. It simply tries to get right in front of you and it becomes a frantic race to either grapple or punch each other first.

There's a decent amount of modes to choose from, though the glaring lack of a story mode may be enough to turn most fans away. You can, as always, vie for any of the WWE titles (no women in this one though), tackle King of the Ring Tourney, fight through Royal Rumble scuffles, or run the gauntlet. There's also an option to create your own PPV card in an attempt to draw viewers and please your boss, Vince McMahon. You can play the matches or simply skip them; it has no effect on your final turnout. As for match variations, you'll get the classic cage, triple threat, elimination, over the top rope, submission, hardcore, fatal four way, and tag matches. This should be more than enough to keep most people occupied.

The shameful hand drawn sprites that killed last years game have been completely forgotten. Though the effect will not work on everybody, the new animation system is intriguing. Each joint on the wrestlers body moves independently on every strike, much like a paper doll. This busts open the variety of animation available to the developers and it shows. There are still moments where everything looks too stiff to believable, but the near photo-quality of the sprites makes up for it. The crowd is also quite active, another effect that enhances the realism factor as much as it can be.

All the theme music that blares every Monday and Thursday night is present, some even with voice clips. Though there are no Titantron videos and the wrestlers just walk to the ring rather stiffly, the music is enough to get the point across. Music played during the matches isn't that bad and even catchy at times, a rarity for a wrestling game. Sound effects are sparse, but serviceable.

A nifty (though completely useless) feature is the Shop zone in which unlockable items are accessed after unlocking them in the various game modes. This screen mimics the WWE website of the same name and each of the products is represented by a small, digitized pic. These items range from shirts, DVD's, wristbands, bobbleheads, mouse pads, and who knows what else. To get all the items available, you need to beat every mode with every wrestler, a feat impossible to anyone but the most patient gamers.

Though the gameplay leaves a bit to be desired, the extras and the innovative graphics engine should be enough to pull fans (and maybe even a few non-fans) into the action. The extras are nice (thankfully all saved by a battery backup) and you're sure to want to unlock a ton of the goodies in the shop zone. These additions keep the replay value high enough to warrant a purchase (retail is only $19.99 brand new) and the graphics are enough to show off some nifty 2-D effects.


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Last updated: Saturday, June 18, 2005 09:29 AM