WWF Royal Rumble (1992) - Review

WWF-Royal-Rumble-SNES-3.jpg
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA

Developer: Sculptured Software

Publisher: LJN (SNES), Flying Edge (Sega Genesis)

Platforms: SNES, Genesis

Release date: June 1993

After a disappointing debut on 16-bit systems with WWF Super WrestleManiaSculptured Software had work to do. One year later, the studio released WWF Royal Rumble with noticeable improvements made over their previous effort. 

WWF Royal Rumble looks similar to the previous game, but with drastic changes made to the speed and responsiveness. What we get is a much more playable game, but one that still falls short of the benchmark set by Super Fire Pro Wrestling in 1991.

Gameplay Impressions

Although the animations are left mostly unchanged from WWF Super WrestleMania, the increase in game speed makes them appear more fluid. More importantly, they pop out closer to the button press, giving a better feeling of connection to the action. 

This time around, the SNES version of the game also includes finishing moves. They can now only be hit when your opponent has around 25% health, which makes a lot more sense. However, if you attempt a pin after a finisher and your opponent has more than 0% health, they will probably kick out at 1.

Other improvements include an on-screen HUD to let you know who is winning the grapple button-mash war and you can reenter the ring from the bottom edge.

With every improvement made, the game still can’t quite hit the mark. WWF Royal Rumble still lacks a variety of moves. Every Superstar is essentially the same, with only their finishing move separating them.

Royal Rumble Mode

With up to six Superstars on screen at a time, the on-screen action can appear to be a lot of fun. The game maintains its speed even when the ring is full. The problem here is that interactions between Superstars are limited to one-on-one situations.

There are no double-teams and no ability to interfere with two Superstars who are grappling each other. If there are an odd number of Superstars in the ring, the third wheel has to stand around and wait.

Another feature new to this game is a "cheat" button. In no-DQ matchups, or when the referee has been knocked to the floor, your can eye gouge, or choke your opponent. As the Royal Rumble has no ref, you can hammer this button all you like. It is overly effective, as it seems to suck opponents in from a distance, and do a lot of damage too.

Eliminating an opponent involves weakening them first, then grappling them with your back to the ropes. An Irish whip should see them flying over the ropes. This takes a little more engineering than it sounds and it can be frustrating to get it just right.

 

Platform differences: Sega Genesis vs SNES

Gameplay wise, the two versions are more of less on par. However, the graphics and audio on the SNES version are superior to the Sega version. The fact the SNES version was released three months prior is a giveaway that it was the lead platform.

Again, here are roster differences seen in the two versions. I still have no idea why this is the case, but here is the breakdown:

Both Versions:

  • Bret Hart
  • The Undertaker
  • Shawn Michaels
  • Razor Ramon
  • Randy Savage
  • Crush
  • The Narcissist

SNES exclusive:  

  • Ric Flair
  • Mr. Perfect
  • Ted DiBiase
  • Yokozuna
  • Tatanka. 

Genesis exclusive:  

  • Hulk Hogan
  • IRS
  • "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
  • The Model
  • Papa Shango.

Conclusion

Oddly, of the three WWF games of the 16-bit era, WWF Royal Rumble seems fondly remembered by some retro enthusiasts. For those who enjoyable memories of the game, my advice is to leave them as memories. The game fails to make any meaningful improvements over the previous game, feeling like a lazy update when played side-by-side. A brief nostalgia trip at best.