It’s time to look at another wrestling game. I played one on the NES so it was finally time to try the SNES version. Unfortunately I definitely would not say that this game was very good. In fact, I thought it was fairly bad and has not aged well at all. There are a lot of little choppy animations thrown in and parts of the game where you have to watch what’s basically a small cutscenes. There are just too many breaks in the action and that ultimately ends up hurting the experience quite a bit.
There’s no story mode so right off the bat you can just jump into some exhibitions or the tournament mode where you fight off everyone at once. Definitely a pretty reasonable structure for a fighting game but then you need the gameplay to be on point and this one was not. You have 3 basic moves when you start to fight, you can punch, kick, or go for a grab. You can also try running blows but they are unlikely to land even when the computer is on easy mode. When you throw an opponent to the ground you can follow up by kicking them where it hurts, getting them into a submission, or picking them up to get a free hit in.
My favorite option was the free hit because it seems like a no brainer to me. You get the free hit and then knock him down to repeat the cycle again. It can be tough to time the first punch though so that you are in a position to grab again after that. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds after all. The annoying part is when you go face to face with an opponent and they grab you. There’s basically nothing you can do about it and I tried many different options. I would rewind and take just about any action but it wouldn’t matter. Once the opponent wants to grab you they won’t stop until they do. It triggers a cutscene of sorts where they make you run back and then forward into their punch. They then follow it up with all of the counters I described above.
Eventually they will try to pin you. With good button mashing you can break free almost every time but it’s still annoying to have to keep doing this over and over again every round. Then when you pin them they also break free so each match drags on for an incredible amount of time. You spend more time messing around on the ground then you do actually fighting and that just feels like a mistake to me. It takes away from the entire point of wrestling doesn’t it? I want to actually be interacting with the game. The problem is that while you’re on the ground and they jump on you there’s nothing you can do for a little while. Dead time like that doesn’t work in game format.
At least the graphics are okay I guess. They’re clear enough. The game is very down to Earth so it’s not like they’re going to be able to show a whole lot anyway. What we do get works well enough I suppose. The soundtrack is pretty much nonexistent though. It’s to be expected as Wrestling isn’t about the music anyway but I still would have liked to have had a few good themes. I think it would have been a good idea. Anything to give this game a bit more life. As it stands there isn’t much in the way of replay value aside from fighting more people in wrestling matches I guess.
Overall, Natsume Championship Wrestling just isn’t fun. At the end of the day that’s one of the last things you want to hear about a game. When you pop a title in to play a few rounds you’re expecting to have a fun time and to be entertained. This game just doesn’t let you do that and I would sooner go back to the NES version which was at least a bit more fast paced. I don’t really buy wrestling games in general but I’m confident that the Gamecube ones would have better gameplay. Just call it a gut feeling but I think it definitely is a reasonable assumption.