Copyright/Publisher: Micro League Sports Association Inc., Designed By: Subway Software,
Micro League Sports, Riedel Software Productions: Michael Riedel, Arthur J.Aspromatis,
Remington Emin, Release Year: 1987, Genre: Wrestling, Number of Players: 0 to 2
Forget the Saturday afternoon Brit wrestlers - the real stagers of the business are
the Americans! Microleague Wrestling features Hulk Hogan and other stars of the
Stateside ring in a simulated contest for the World Wrestling Federation Championship belt.
Upon loading, the player selects a control method, which of the three wrestlers
he wants to play, and the length of the match, from a ten minute tussle, to an hour-long
'Grudge' match. This is where the wrestlers not only want to win, they also want to
inflict as much pain as possible on their opponent.
As part of the pre-match build-up, the game loads digitised inter-view sequences
between 'Mean Gene' Okerlund and each wrestler, in which each mat-man tells anyone
who can be bothered to listen, how much better they are than the others. The screen
then switches to the ringside where the Master of Ceremonies announces the match
and introduces the contenders.
The bell then sounds to start the action. Instead of having direct joystick control
ober each wrestler, the player controls a selector bar with which he chooses his
moves from a menu unique to each contestant. The menu carries four categories of move,
from Basic moves (punches and stomps) to a wrestler's specialist manoeuvre, each of which
carry a trade-off between ease to use and effectiveness in terms of damage points.
When both have chosen their next move, the computer decides which of the two would
be more successful, taking into account the level of damage the wrestlers have already
sustained, their 'Relative Dominance' and the probability of successfully completing
To represent their progress in the macth, both wrestlers hava a damage rating and
a Relative Dominance Meter. Basically, Relative Dominance depicts how well the match
is going for wrestler by combining a power rating and damage. This increases as moves
are successuflly accomplished, and drops as hits are taken.
The damage rating represents a threshold of damage points over which the
wrestler is seriously weakened. This is useful for indicating when to change
from offensive to defensive manoeuvres.
A sequence of digitised ringside graphics showing the accomplished move is then
shown on screen, with the occasional crowd shot for good measure. To add that
extra touch of realism, two well-known American match commentators sit at the
bottom of the screen passing judgement on the wrestlers competence.
Should things be going especially badly, the player may take advantage of a limited
number of moves not listed in the rules of the sport. Hulk Hogan, who always plays fair,
might gain a boost of energy by calling for the support of the crowd. The less
sporting wrestlers can twice make use of a dirty trick which weakens his opponent,
but brings the risk of disqualification.
Unfortunately, unusual and original concepts don't always work, and Microleague Wrestling
proves the point. The presentation is all there: a wide variety of control methods
complements the easy movement selection system, an excellent frond end, in-game
comments and rapid disk access.
However, actually playing the game isn't as much fun. The combination of digitsied
action shots and limited response commands is interesting to play around with at
first, but it soon becomes dull.
Particularly irratating is the lack of different
comments and screenshots: the shot of the grinning ringside woman time and time
again is particularly nauseous. With a bit more variety this interesting concept
could have been a compelling game; as it is, it's not interesting enough to deserve
Strange as it may seem, I used to watch the Saturday afternoon wrestling diligently,
because better comedy is thin on the ground. The feeling of over-the-top showmanship
I got when watching the American version of the sport has been successfully recreated
by Microleague Wrestling, which, as you would expect with Microprose, plays as a
simulation rather than an action game.
I'll admit that I'm surprised at the reasonable success of the approach with
which the programmers have turned the sport into a well-presented computer program,
even allowing the essential cheating element.
To enjoy it to its fullest, though,
you would have to be acquainted with wrestling, the moves (which aren't explained in
the manual), and the way it is presented by the media. Its playability, therefore,
is very much limitied to the real grapple fans.