In the mid to late 90s my brothers and me were fairly into professional wrestling. Both the (then) WWF and the WCW were Monday night staples. A big contributor to my own liking of the “Sport” was the accompanying video games. Looking back, wrestling video games were all over the place in terms of quality and consistency. Generally, though, the arcade scene had a few gems, including Sega’s Wrestle War.
The late 80s arcade wrestling scene were more akin to fighting games really, and Wrestle War is no exception. Your goal is to defeat your opponent, but you have to do so by depleting their life bar before they deplete yours. By punching, kicking, and grappling your opponent you can whittle away at their health before landing the final, decisive blow. It works well for an arcade experience, but not so much for an “authentic” professional wrestling feel.
Wrestle War is apparently a hard to find arcade cabinet. Doing some research for this post I ran into multiple sources citing it as being quite obscure, especially in the States. Personally my first time playing it was on the Dreamcast in the Sega Smash Pack. I wasn’t thrilled then, and honestly not really thrilled with the arcade version, either.
The huge draw to wrestling is familiarity. While you have lookalikes for big name professional wrestlers like Hulk Hogan, you aren’t actually playing as him. This isn’t a problem that affects gameplay, but it would definitely affect alluring people to the game. If Wrestle War was sitting next to, say, WrestleFest, which does have the WWF license, I’d gravitate more toward the latter.
Still though, I have to respect a hard to find, dedicated arcade cabinet. Wrestle War has some awesome, colorful artwork on the marquee and front overlay. As an older gamer now, I can appreciate seeing this type of unique game standing toe to toe with others in an arcade!
Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfiled, IL 2019