Kinnikuman Nisei: Shinsedai Choujin vs. Densetsu Choujin
A Puroresu Game Review by Kevin Wilson

Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
Release Date: November 22nd, 2002

Kinnikuman is a manga series in Japan that started all the way back in 1979, and it continues to this day. It was also developed into a popular anime series on TV and is a very well known series in Japan. Anything that popular is going to also carry over onto other mediums, and the first Kinnikuman video game was released back in 1984 with the last console game being released in 2008. We are starting here with the Gamecube version, as it reviewed well and I had not every played a Kinnikuman game so it just felt like a good place to get the ball rolling.

Graphics: The graphics for the game are great, as since they are intentionally cartoon-y it never really goes out of style. Sure if it was made today it would be better but by using this animation method it ages extremely well. There was no point while I was playing that I thought the graphics were insufficient, the Gamecube was more than capable of handling this type of art direction. There is nothing here that would hold back a gamer from enjoying the game.

Controls: This was my first Kinnikuman game and to be honest it took some time to get used to the controls. When you go from Fire Pro to this there is definitely an adjustment period as this game of course isn't timing based but more of an arcade style. I mostly only blocked moves by accident and I also tended to dash on accident since it just wasn't a control input that I was used to worrying about. The controls responded well and once I got the hang of it I was able to dominate matches pretty easily (as much as one can in this type of game anyway). But if you are going from King of Colosseum/Fire Pro to this, just be aware that it is quite different. Just to give you an example there is a 'jump' button which obviously isn't a normal feature of wrestling games. Also, Kinnikuman has less grapple moves than other games made around the same time period but with three 'special' moves (one strike, one grapple, and then one super special) in any given match it wasn't a big deal as that helped the matches feel fresh.

Gameplay Options: There are a fair number of game options to help keep the game interesting. There is a storyline mode of course, which can be done with any of the wrestlers. There is also a tournament mode with up to eight wrestlers, and can be done either as a singles wrestler or as a tag team. Throughout all of this you will get coins, and you can use these coins in vending machines to get toy figures. So that gives you a reason to play the modes repeatedly because everyone enjoys getting collectables, plus that is also how you unlock more characters to play as. There is also a CAW, so you can create your own funny looking wrestlers to compete with.

Wrestlers Available: 14 wrestlers are available from the start with six unlockable but needless to say none are real wrestlers that you would recognize. They are however characters from the manga series so if you are into it then it will probably be fun to play as them. To me it was just 14 random cartoon looking characters.

Historical Significance: As this wasn't the first or last Kinnikuman game to be released in the series it wasn't too critical, even though it got decent reviews. It was also released in the United States a year later, which is unusual for puroresu games as the manga series did have fans in the US as well. Also of note, this was the only wrestling game released in Japan on the Gamecube that originated from Japan (WWE Day of Reckoning came out in Japan but after it was released in the United States). In the annuals of history not a game that will be remembered but still fun to play.

Overall Thoughts: Overall I thought this was a fun game. I can't compare it to regular wrestling games as that just wouldn't be fair, and while I thought the storyline mode was interesting since I can't read Japanese that no doubt took some of the fun out of it. But the matches themselves were enjoyable, since it was an arcade-style the matches didn't last very long and its a good game to just pick up and play if you only have 15 or 20 minutes. The special moves are unique to each wrestlers, and each has three, so there was a fair amount of replay value to try out each one to see what weird stuff the game came up with. I can't compare the game to other Kinnikuman games since this is the first one I have played, but this one holds up very well and if you like a more arcade style of wrestling game then you'll enjoy this one.

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game reviewed on 4/12/15