Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling Jet
A Puroresu Game Review by Kevin Wilson

Platform: Nintendo Gameboy
Release Date:
July 15th, 1994

While many wrestling games came out for the Nintendo Gameboy, this was the only game produced by All Japan Pro Wrestling. This came out in the middle of the Gameboy run, but no other All Japan specific game came out on a handheld console. Two other games came out in the Zen-Nippon Pro Wrestling series, but both were for the Super Famicom.

Graphics: Just a warning for the images and GIFs, I am playing this on a Nintendo Gameboy Player which colorizes the game. Naturally on the original Gameboy, there was no color, but I figured I may as well play the game as it was best presented. Even though of course the graphics are from the original Gameboy, it was still possible to tell who some of the wrestlers were. The Americans and Giant Baba in particular were instantly recognizable, while some of the other Japanese wrestlers all looked extremely similar. But the move animations were surprisingly good, the Oklahoma Slam and suplexes looked nice, and overall I don't think the graphics held the game back.

Controls: For an early 90s wrestling game, there are a fair number of moves available. Each wrestler has seven normal grapple moves and an Irish whip. Also every wrestler has a special move (by pushing A and B at the same time) but it can be done any time. Some wrestlers can climb to the top turnbuckle and do two different moves. The running moves for me were a bit hit and miss as there may have been some timing nuance I wasn't getting, but it was generally glitch-free.

Gameplay Options: There are three game modes - a singles series (Royal Road), tag team series, and just regular versus. For the series of matches, if you win at the end it shows an image with you as the title, then the game goes back to the title screen. For the tag teams, you can choose from one of the pre-selected tag teams or create your own.

Wrestlers Available: Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Toshiaki Kawada, Akira Taue, Stan Hansen, and Steve Williams are the wrestlers in the game. All wrestlers have their own special moves and are customized for the wrestler so each one feels like a unique experience.

Historical Significance: This was the first All Japan wrestling game for the Nintendo Gameboy, after two successful games on the Nintendo Super Famicom. It was also the last puroresu game on the original brick Gameboy, as the next wrestling game wouldn't come out until after the Gameboy Color was released. Since it came a bit later in the cycle it was the first wrestling Nintendo Gameboy game to have a large amount of grapple moves available and had the technology so that at least some of the wrestlers were instantly recognizable.

Overall Thoughts: If this game came out in America, I would have been ten years old at the time and I was an avid gameboy player. I fully believe that I would have thoroughly enjoyed this game as it has eight unique wrestlers with unique moves for every wrestler. Gameboy games were incredibly simplistic for anyone too young to remember, and this game would have been really refreshing back then. A really good effort by All Japan as at the time of release this would have been an impressive wrestling game to play.

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game reviewed on 3/2/15