Thanks to Spike Chunsoft for the review code
Title: Fire Pro Wrestling World
Release Date: 08/28/2018
Continuing the legacy of the series started by legendary developers Human Entertainment (The developers behind the Clock Tower series) who developed the series up until 2000, Spike Chunsoft brings out a new entry in the Fire Pro Wrestling, with a full-fledged story mode about your custom wrestler aiming to win the New Japanese Pro Wrestling Championship!
Fire Pro Wrestling World takes place from an isometric perspective, going for a mix of 3D backgrounds and 2D characters that don’t really look like traditional sprites at all, appearing to be fully cel-shaded. The characters do look pretty weird at first, but you get used to it after playing for a couple hours. In terms of the game’s story mode, Fighter’s Road, pre-battle scenes are portrayed akin to a Visual Novel, with dialogue scenes between characters over a background, and in this mode the likenesses of real life Japanese pro wrestlers are on display, with real images of characters in the business being used to represent them outside of combat. The soundtrack is filled with hard rock themes that are pretty decent, although I found that the entrance themes were a lot more memorable since they covered a bit more variety.
Fire Pro Wrestling may seem intimating to newcomers to the franchise, (or in the case of myself, a newcomer to anything to do with the sport period) but thankfully this game leaves an awesome first impression by offering a very easy to grasp tutorial in the game’s Mission Mode, which outlines all the controls, basic combos, techniques and methods of winning, before offering up tricky challenges for the player to take up using the skills they were just taught, with the player being capable of clearing those missions with a ranking up to S. There are a plentiful amount of local multiplayer modes to choose from, each with a different set of gimmicks, (including several Deathmatch modes, Battle Royal, League Battle, Gruesome Fighting among a few others) and a bunch of different options (including one that lets you increase the game speed up to eight times if you want true chaotic fun) but they use the same basic controls, which can be remapped if you prefer certain buttons in other places like I did.
You have three different attack buttons, and the main way of attacking isn’t by merely button mashing or performing a combo akin to one from a fighting game, but rather by approaching the opposing wrestler and pressing one of the attack buttons and a movement direction at just the right moment. If you do this before your opponent can react, you’ll be able to attack them and weaken their stamina, either by knocking them to the ground, grappling them or simply giving them a strong hit. You also have a dash move, and if you hit this button instead of one of the attack buttons, you can send your opponent running towards the other side of the ring, and if they bounce against the fence and head your way, you can time another attack just right and knock them to the ground. Once an opponent is on the ground, you can hit another button in order to pin them in place, which will begin a countdown timer that can be stopped if the opposing wrestler is able to break free. Depending on the ruleset, this could be a 2 count or a 3 count, or it may require another means of wearing them out and causing them to be defeated. (Gruesome Fighting forces you to wear out the opposing wrestler so much to the point they have to collapse in order for the match to end)
In the end, the main goal ends up being to simply weaken your opponent and have them exhausted to the point where you can knock them out with the timer. Another way of knocking out the opponent if applicable comes from if you’re able to throw them outside of the ring. If either side spends too long outside before climbing back up, then they’ll automatically lose, so if you get rolled out of the ring during a match, it’s crucial to get right back into the action before it’s too late! One more helpful skill you can use to weaken opponents is to climb onto the poles on the corners of the ring in order to leap onto the other wrestler, although missing and landing on the ring will leave you wide open so you should try to pounce on them after you knock them to the floor or stun them. Whenever you’re ever low on stamina, holding the L1 button to take a moment and breathe is the main way of slowly gaining that lost stamina back, although since it’s an invisible meter you’ll have to just hope that you recovered enough before continuing the fight.
So with the main mechanics and local multiplayer modes explained, time to discuss the other things that you can do in Fire Pro Wrestling! Outside of the big focus on local multiplayer with up to four players, you can also take the fight online, and go up against opponents from all over the world. These are standard online fights, and the performance will solely depend on how well the connections you and your opponent will use. Thankfully, if you happen to deal with someone who’s a laggy mess or who just flat-out ragequits, the game will do a helpful thing and keep the match going by swapping the missing parties with a CPU, meaning that you will still have a match to complete if someone tries to cheat you out of a win. It’s honestly a refreshing feature I don’t see much in competitive games in general, and I really wish fighting games would add in a feature like this to keep online matches going with minimal risk of disconnects.
Last but not least, is the single player campaign mode, Fighter’s Road. In this mode, you create your own custom wrestler and take on multiple opponents as you make your way up the New Japanese Pro Wrestling circuit, increasing your attributes by spending points on training regimens inbetween every fight. It’s nothing too special, but it offers another easy way to get into the game if the tutorial wasn’t enough for you, plus it also introduces you to the crazy feature of customizing your own wrestler! This can be done outside of the campaign mode as well, with your custom wrestlers being able to be used in local multiplayer matches. You’re also able to customize your own referees, too, and upload both those and your wrestlers to the online server known as FPW Net, although you’ll have to log in with your PSN ID on the PS4 web browser in order to actually download creations uploaded by other players. While I personally stuck to the huge roster of of wrestlers included in the game to begin with, this feature can certainly offer a lot of fun for the more creative types. (Though I did create a simple referee and uploaded him. Let’s see if anyone can find this red-hat mascot!)
In conclusion, Fire Pro Wrestling World is an excellent introduction to the Fire Pro Wrestling series, as well as Wrestling games in general. With very easy to learn controls and strategic gameplay that anyone can eventually grasp, this game was a ton of fun to play with a local friend, and Mission Mode will offer a decent single player challenge for those who are interested. That being said, outside of the campaign mode and Mission mode, this game’s pretty multiplayer heavy, and it is excellent when played with friends locally or online, especially with the clever way the game handles disconnects. With all that said, I do wish there was more to do with the game’s trophy list, which consist of really, really easy trophies that just come down to playing every mode once (except for Fighter’s Road, strangely enough, despite that being the main Single Player mode) and fighting in tons of matches over time. There could have been a lot more done to extend the replay value for these trophies outside of just fighting over 1000 times, so it’s disappointing that the Trophies got the lower end of the stick. Still, even if you aren’t into wrestling, I strongly advise you to give this game a go if you’re a fan of multiplayer games in general, as Fire Pro World does a fantastic job of being an easy-to-understand game, and I’m really glad I decided to give this game a shot.
I give Fire Pro Wrestling World a 7 out of 10.