Virtual Pro Wrestling 64
A Puroresu Game Review by Kevin Wilson

Platform: Nintendo 64
Release Date: December 19th, 1997

Released after WCW vs. nWo World Tour, Virtual Pro Wrestling was released only in Japan in 1997. Sporting one of the largest rosters ever for a wrestling game, it included not only wrestlers from Japan but from WCW as well. 1997 was right around the peak for wrestling in the world, so needless to say the roster is filled with some of the most popular wrestlers not in the WWF.

Graphics - Even though the game is 18 years old, the graphics don't really take away from the game. I imagine everyone reading this review has played an AKI wrestling game, and during the generation there was little difference between Virtual Pro Wrestling and Virtual Pro Wrestling 2. Many of the wrestlers are easily identified, even though a lot of the faces do look the same. The graphics aren't great but they don't detract from the game. Score:  5.0

Controls - Fairly simple - hold the grapple button for strong grapples, tap it for weak.  Once in the grapple, you hit a direction and a move is performed.  Simple.  Also, diving over the top rope (simply holding the grapple button) is actually easier here then it is in many of the wrestling games made since this one.  It is missing some of the options from Virtual Pro Wrestling 2, for example there are no running grapples and you can't turn your opponent around once they are in a grapple. But for the most part the controls are easy to learn and fun to play with.   Score:  8.0

Single Player Mode - The primary single player mode as the player doing tournaments to challenge for one of the championships in the game. The tournaments are round-robin, and you have the option to watch the matches you do not participate in if you are into that sort of thing. The mode has both singles and tag team, and to win all the belts/unlock all the wrestlers takes a good amount of time. A pretty solid if unspectacular set-up, but it will be disappointing for those looking for more of a 'story' to follow along with.  Score:  5.0

Other Game Play Options - This game has a tournament setting as well as a Battle Royal. It isn't my personal cup of tea, but the game also has a more MMA-style option as well as a fair number of the fighters in the game are MMA wrestlers. So if you get tired of the main single player mode there are definitely other things to do as well.  Score:  7.0

Wrestling Moves - Virtual Pro Wrestling has a ton of moves but not quite as many as the sequel. There are no running grapple moves or 'burning' super special moves, for example. There are still a lot of moves available in CAW however, and special moves that you still don't see in games these days (such as the Sasuke Special and Tiger Driver '91) are included. A great collection which helps make every wrestler feel different.  Score:  8.5

Wrestler Options - Including hidden wrestlers and unlockable wrestlers, this game has over 110 wrestlers. That includes wrestlers from WCW, All Japan, New Japan, FMW, Rings, Michinoku Pro, BattleARTS, boxers, and even some Joshi wrestlers with Aja Kong and Manami Toyota both making the cut.  An incredible roster and one that will keep the action fresh for many many hours.  Score:  10.0

Create-A-Wrestler - While not as top notch as wrestling games made since this one, the CAW is still solid in that it allows you to make about any wrestler you can think of.  Faces do suck though, don't waste your time trying to get it right, the graphics just aren't there yet for facial realism. Score:  4.5

Long Term Appeal - This game could almost last forever. First of all if you want to win every title to unlock all the wrestlers, that is going to take you many hours. Then add in the other modes, or if you feel like doing some shoot-style matches, and like the other AKI games the enjoyment is limitless. By my count there are over 25 wrestlers to be unlocked, many of which are boxers which again makes the game different than other wrestling games. Lots to do here.   Score:  8.5

Final Thoughts - Virtual Pro Wrestling 64 is easily forgotten since Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 just did everything a little bit better, but it is still a game worth playing. Having the full WCW roster is huge and allows for a lot more unique matchups, in some ways that makes up for the fact that there are a few less wrestling moves and the graphics are a smidge worse. Even if you have VPW 2, if you are a fan of mid-90s WCW this is still a good game to add to your collection, and it can be found online pretty cheap. AKI games are just as fun today as they were 15 years ago, the only knock on them is it does lack a story mode (which I wouldn't understand anyway). Besides that, another classic wrestling game.

Score:  A-

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game reviewed on 2/9/15