reviews\ Dec 21, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Legends of Wrestling II - GBA - Review

Fans of the series will be disappointed to hear that Legends of Wrestling II did not have a smooth transition to the small screen.  The console versions have their share of problems, but none of them can compare to the number of flaws present in the GBA edition.

Only five attacks are at your disposal -- weak strike, medium strike, strong strike, primary attack and secondary attack.  All of these moves are executed with the A button and the directional pad, which must be pressed in the proper direction to unleash the desired attack.  Similar commands are required to grapple your opponent, except that you use the B button to tie up the wrestler and may use the A or B button finish the move.  This setup isn't too bad, but it is very limited.  You'll see the same attack moves over and over again simply because there aren't enough of them to keep you or your opponent from being repetitive.  This adds an additional layer of monotony to the gameplay, something that Legends of Wrestling II already had enough of.

If we could forget about the small attack list and concentrate solely on the entertainment value of this product, we'd still want something more.  "We" meaning "all" gamers.  Basic mechanics are one thing, but basic gameplay is entirely another.  Basic is a but of an understatement.  Legends of Wrestling II could not be much simpler.  Granted, if a game is good, its simplicity doesn't matter.  However, there aren't many good things to find in this wrestler.  The game moves at an astonishingly slow pace.  Wrestlers can run, but it's more of a charge move that sends them in a straight line.  Players will spend most of their time walking around.  The game gets even slower when you grapple an opponent.  You'll have the chance to perform more moves now -- some of which might even be your favorite -- but the wrestlers move so slow, look so ugly and perform so badly that you won't even be able to enjoy the experience.

There are a few different game modes available, but they all lead to the same thing: boring matches with blasé gameplay mechanics.  The new career mode is nothing more than a long series of matches.  Captain Lou Albano and "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart will attempt to give the player good advice.  Ironically, they fail to mention the power switch, which is conveniently located below the Start and Select buttons. The tournament mode is pretty much the same as the career mode, only with fewer matches and zero story elements.  Tag team battles are also the same, except that there are more wrestlers involved, making each match last much longer.

Legends of Wrestling II's graphics look like they were created by a five-year-old.  Character detail is nowhere to be found -- their bodies mesh like thrown together watercolors, making it difficult to tell the difference between you and your opponent(s).  Wrestlers run towards the ring before battle, showcasing the game's less-than-perfect animation.  The way that the wrestlers move reminds me of the Pull-Ups commercials, in which a little kid runs in and out of the bathroom.  If you gotta go, you gotta go, but these wrestlers are supposed to be preparing for battle, not bathroom breaks.

The ring is a plain 2D backdrop that could have been created using the most basic PC draw/paint programs available.  Brief glimpses of the audience add a small, almost noteworthy amount of detail to a downright ugly game, but that can't even begin to compensate for the rest of Legends of Wrestling II's graphical shortcomings.

Legends of Wrestling II isn't un-playable, and even though it ranks low as a Game Boy Advance game, it's not the worst wrestling game ever made.  Diehard wrestling fans -- especially those obsessed with Hulk Hogan -- may be mildly amused by the game's collection of unidentifiable "legends."  The extensive length of each fight will help to kill time during the extensive car rides that Mom and Dad put you through every year.  Thirty bucks is a bit much to spend on a time-killer though, so it's probably best for you to leave this one at the game shop and rent it -- or something else -- instead.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 3.5
Wrestling games have never been fast, but this takes slow gameplay to a whole new level.

Graphics: 3 
Horrendous is not a strong enough word to describe Legends of Wrestling II's graphics.  Honestly, the GBA has never had a game that looked this bad before!  Believe it or not, there are NES games that look better.

Sound: 4
Repetitive, poor-quality music and sound effects will drive gamers nuts.  Of course, this could be looked at as a good thing, since it gives you an excuse to turn off the sound, which saves battery life.

Difficulty: Easy
It's times like these that I think we need a "super easy" rating.  Matches can actually be won just by repeatedly striking your opponent!  No grapples necessary -- just hit him a million times and he'll be knocked out.

Concept: 4 
I like the idea of having several legends of wrestling crammed into one game, but they did that with the first title.  There is nothing new worth loving, and nothing new to make GBA owners glad that they finally have a version of Legends of Wrestling II that they can take wherever they go.

Overall: 3.5
The lack of attack variety, lackluster graphics and low replay value make for one seriously disappointing wrestling game.


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