Ladies an' Gennelmen, welcome a newcomer to the ring, Melbourne House's Rock'n'Wrestle. in the blue corner, Tommy "Giant Hayfever" Nash (boo hiss) wrestles up a review...
Quiz time. If you'd been in a deep coma for, oh say at least eight hours and you woke up not knowing what day of the week it was (let alone how you came to be sleeping head first in the linen basket), how would you work out it was Saturday? Turn on the telly for starters. Right. And watch Mike Read make a complete prat of himself on Saturday Superstore? But Mike Read makes a complete prat of himself every day of the week. Watch out for Saint and Greavsie? No chance. The hardest thing of all is finding at time when they're not on. The wrestling? Got it in... er, just over one. Yes, the wrestling, of course. The show in which two EEC-subsidised food mountains (why else d'you think he's called Giant Haystacks?) start knocking the stuffing out of each other. Wrestling equals Saturday. And don't start telling me that you can go down the Civic and watch wrestling any night of the week. Have you ever been? No, of course you haven't.
Except that now, grappling fans, you can have wrestling on your telly every day of the week. Rock'n'Wrestle is the first 3D wrestling simulation to head-butt its way onto your Speccy. But be prepared for a few changes from the real thing. For starters, our man-mountains look as though they've spent a couple of weeks with the Weight Watchers - Big Daddy would have three of them for breakfast before tucking into his Shredded Wheat. And the referee's gone walkabout, so there's none of that a-one-a, a-two-a, a-three-a plus copious amounts of palm slapping on the canvas - the countdown appears as plain old numbers on the screen.
In any case the ref would have great difficulty with the rules. The only way to win a contest is by one pinfall if you're playing the computer or two if you're mashin' up a mate. There are no knockouts and no submissions.
The other big difference is the visuals. A real wrestler would have to get beaten about a bit to look as bad as this. The graphics are definitely on the naff side of awful, especially after the clean lines of Melbourne's last big hit, Way Of The Exploding Fist. And until you've got a fair few back breakers under your Lonsdale belt it's a trifle tricky in some of the grapples picking out which pixel belongs to which player.
But it won't be long before you're used to the blockiness of the graphics and you can tell at a glance the difference between the Missouri Breaker and Redneck McCoy. Then you can get on with the business of mastering the moves - all twenty-seven of them. It's an idea to put some practice on the two-player mode - that way you can be certain of an opponent who keeps still even while you're throwing him around the ring.
Rock'n'Wrestle is not a megagame but it's not far off in its gameplay as looking at the screen shots might suggest. And as a wrestling simulation, it's not bad at all bad. All the major moves are there and it feels pretty accurate when it's your head making contact with the canvas. You'll even lose control over your character as he reels about the ring after a bad knock. But in the end there is one vital element missing. How could the programmers leave out everyone's favourite handbag-wielding granny?
Here are four of the flashiest moves in Rock'n'Wrestle. And once you've mastered these, you've only got another twenty-three to go. Get grapplin'
PILE DRIVERNow this really would be a killer - if only you could guarantee your opponent had piles. That's why you can count on doing more damage by picking him up and dropping him on his head. To carry the move off, grab your adversary from the front, lift him over your shoulders before driving him head-first into the canvas.THE ARMLOCKTake your partner by the arm, jiggle that joystick from side to side, swing him round until he spins, then let him go into the ropes. After that performance you've got about a second and a half to decide on your next move - will it be the flying body press, the drop kick or the clothes line?TURNBUCKLE FLYNo, not a new-fangled trouser fastener but one of the cockiest moves in wrestling. Climb up the corner post, then throw yourself, arms outstretched, into the middle of the ring. It works best if you land on top of your opponent.AERO-PLANE SPINNow, you've really made it to the dizzy heights in wrestling. Grab your opponent from the front then lift him onto your shoulders. A side-to-side waggle will soon have the pair of you in a spin.
ROCK 'N' WRESTLE V FIST
It's nearly a year now since Way Of The Exploding Fist first burst to the top of the chart - and stayed put for a fair few weeks. So, there's a lot riding on its success - after all, it was designed and programmed by the same team. So now for the big question, is Rock'n'Wrestle the smash hit follow-up to Fist. Let's find out...PLAYABILITYROCK'N'WRESTLE - 8Can't complain on this count. The graphics take a bit of getting used to but the variety and complexity of the moves more than makes for them.FIST - 9When it first appeared, Fist was a stunning achievement. And best of all was the accuracy and complexity of the moves - you could 'feel' those blows.GRAPHICSROCK'N'WRESTLE - 4Er, yes... you can see for yourself that they're a bit of a state rather than state of the art. Still, the Speccy does pose a few programming problems for 3D simulations like this.FIST - 8The figures in Fist are beautifully realised but remember the programmers only had to move them across a horizontal line in two dimensions.ADDICTIVENESSROCK'N'WRESTLE - 8The added difficulty of mastering a greater number of moves and defeating more opponents than in Fist means that it should keep you jiggling that joystick for even longer.FIST - 7Well, plenty of us still play it regularly nearly a year after its original release so it has to score well in these stakes. The only major complaint is that it's just too easy and lacks variety so perhaps Rock'n'Wrestle takes it on this count.ORIGINALITYROCK'N'WRESTLE - 8Well, have you ever seen a wrestling game before? Could this be the first in a long line of spin-offs or will the problems with the graphics put others off giving it a go?FIST - 9There've been plenty of imitators but Fist was without doubt the first. And for many people it's never yet been bettered.REALSIMROCK'N'WRESTLE - 6The game gets all the moves in but fails to capture the pantomime atmosphere of real wrestling. Isn't half the fun of wrestling the fact that it's showbiz not sport? And it's stretching it a bit to believe that anyone could pull off a pin by holding down his opponent's feet - so why can you in Rock'n'Wrestle?FIST - 8Never having put on my jimjams to do anything more strenuous than sleep, I'm not really the one to judge how true to life the game is. But all that thwacking and thudding looks real enough to me.OVERALLROCK'N'WRESTLE - 36FIST -41Well, it looks as though Fist has it by two falls and one submission. But if you disagree write in and tell the Ed - don't you worry about the fact that I'll probably lose my job over it...
Ooh, isn't he gorgeous? Well, he is Gorgeous Greg, the grannies' hearthrob? Some of his adversaries must've made their mothers weep though - more cauliflowers 'ere than at the greengrocers. The two bars up the side indicate the relative strengths of the two opponents. The weaker you get, the farther down it goes; when you reach the red you'll have difficulty fighting off your opponent's attacks. One tip for the high score freaks - when you've got your opponent in an aeroplane spin or an armlock, keep him spinning round for as long as you you can and watch your score soar.