Wrestle Kingdom was released on July 20th, 2006 in Japan for the PS2. In many ways this is the first "Americanized" Puroresu game as it strayed away from the path that King of Colosseum and Firepro had taken. This is one of the first puroresu games I personally played, and at much expense as I eventually opted to just get an imported PS2 to play the game.

Graphics - With a look similar to Day of Reckoning for the Nintendo Gamecube, the graphics themselves are great but the game was designed more with a cartoony look to it than a realistic look. Obviously that was the objective of the game makers but it looks quite different then King of Colosseum 2. While most the moves look great, there are a few glitches here and there though that you simply don't expect to see in a modern games. Other then that the graphics are very solid, it just takes a match or two to get used to the look of the wrestler movements. Score:  8.0


Controls - One of the advantages to Wrestle Kingdom is the controls are very easy to master, it shouldn't take more then one match for anyone that has played previous wrestling games to get used to it. There is one grabble button, hold for strong grapple and tap for weak grapple. Triangle is run, square is strike, and to reverse grapples or strikes all you do is hit the grapple or strike button (depending on which your opponent tries). Doing finishers is accomplished by hitting square and X at the same time. The problem is that there are not that many moves in the game, but we will get to that in a minute. I played my brother in Wrestle Kingdom after I had owned it for a few weeks, and by the end of the first match he was beating me, so to call the game quick to learn would be an understatement. This leads to some other issues, but I can't knock the game's controls. The only problem is it is too easy to reverse moves, and it involves more luck then skill in order to do so. For pick-up-and-play though, it works very well, and if you like to play wrestling games with friends that come over then this will be the game for you.   Score:  8.0

Single Player Mode - I really didn't like the Drama Mode (single player mode) in this game. First of all, you have to create a wrestler just to play Drama Mode, and since I don't really like creating wrestlers that was a strike against it right off the bat. Second, in the Drama Mode you do a lot of non-match "training," which can get repetitive. I didn't mind going through it once, but I really didn't have any desire to play it again (even though I did to unlock more wrestlers). A regular story mode would have given this game a lot more re-play value.   Score:  4.0

Other Game Play Options - None. What, none? Yea, none. Just Drama Mode and Free Fight. Ain't that a bitch?   Score:  2.0

Wrestling Moves - Compared to what other new games have, this game was pretty short on moves. Weak and Strong Grapples, front and back, only have five moves apiece. You can also do strike moves while in a grapple, but they usually aren't all different. A big gripe also is some wrestlers only have one or two Finisher moves, which in today's age is unusual. Most of the moves look great, but there are a few exceptions (Kojima's elbow drop from the top turnbuckle is infamously pretty hit and miss). Add in the fact that so many moves are locked that you can only get from doing Drama Mode over and over and I don't think that Yukes went in the right direction here. Overall I was very disappointed, VPW2 and KOC2 both have more options.  Score:  4.0

Wrestler Options - Not near as complete as King of Colosseum 2. All the major stars from NOAH, All Japan, and NOAH are here but none of the smaller promotions are represented. Brock Lesnar is in the game though, which would be a plus for American fans. There were also quite a few Freelancers available, such as Takayama and Sasaki amongst others. There are four unlockable wrestlers but no pre-created wrestlers like KOC2, and again I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to be Yoshitsune, dammit! Score:  5.5

Edits - Pretty deep, although not quite as good as the last few Smackdown! games in America. I am not big on creating wrestlers, but I didn't have any trouble doing what I wanted to do. As I mentioned above there aren't that many move options in this game compared to other games for Edits however, which is a shame. Score:  6.0

Long Term Appeal - Some, but not much. Drama Mode for me got old really quick, and the rosters weren't quite deep enough to create as many unique matches as King of Colosseum 2. I don't sim, so I can't really comment on how good the game is in that regard. I still play it, but it sure as hell isn't Drama Mode when I do. For single-player use I don't imagine this game will get longer then a few months of constant playing time at best.   Score:  5.5

Final Thoughts - Some things this game did really well, and other things it bombed. First, the good things. The graphics are great, and while the look takes a match or two to get use to as the player movements look a bit weird at first I'd say that Wrestle Kingdom is the prettiest wrestling game I have played. The controls are really easy to pick up and learn, so if you are in a college setting or will have a lot of different people over for a quick game, Wrestle Kingdom is perfect in that regard. There is very little learning curve to be good enough to be competitive as long as you aren't playing someone that has mastered the game. The bad things out-weigh the good things, however. The Drama Mode is not ideal for me, as I like doing modes with normal wrestlers, not ones I have to create. The lack of tournaments or other options is inexcusable as well. The moves available were disappointing as were the number of wrestlers when comparing it to other recent wrestling games. If you want a wrestling game that is fairly simple and has the latest wrestlers, then pick this up. Otherwise, get King of Colosseum 2 or Firepro Returns.

Score:  C-

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game reviewed in 2007