Wrestling games are some of the most popular "sports" games on consoles. However, much of the craze has been tied to the games licensed by popular wrestling organizations like the WWE. EA's recent game, Def Jam Vendetta, was one of the first non-WWE wrestling games in recent memory to earn any kind of critical or popular acclaim. Eidos hopes to pull off a similar feat with a different license--Backyard Wrestling. For those unfamiliar with the late-night-DVD offerings that are advertised along with other high-class entertainments like Snoop Dogg's Girls Gone Wild or Bum Fights, Backyard Wrestling refers to a series of video releases that show everyday people imitating their favorite wrestling stars in their homes and around the neighborhood.
Backyard Wrestling's gameplay, much like the gameplay of the classic Dreamcast fighting game Powerstone, centers on highly interactive environments. Unlike WWE wrestling games, which pretty much always take place in a ring, all of Backyard Wrestling's arenas are set in homes or other places you might find in the neighborhood. Some of the arenas in the game include a redneck's backyard, a slaughterhouse, a strip club, a mansion, and a truck stop.
In our demonstration, we mostly played in the truck stop level, which proved to be a very interactive environment. You can pick up items you see lying around, such as a big block of ice in an icemaker, and throw them at your opponent. You can also throw your foe into glass doors, shattering them, or into wooden railings that break apart. Slam your opponent into one of the gas pumps, and it will cause a nearby stack of hay bales to ignite, creating a new hazard. Ladders are conveniently placed next to 18-wheelers and the convenience store, allowing you to climb on top of them and launch outrageous aerial attacks on any stunned opponents lying on the ground. The developers promise that each of the game's levels will feature the same degree of interactivity to help set the game apart from its competitors.
Backyard Wrestling's gameplay features many of the same conventions you'll find in other wrestling games, such as a couple of strike buttons that can be pressed in rhythm to pull off quick combos and a grapple button that you can use to segue into powerful tosses, throws, and body slams. Countering grapples requires you to simply press the correct button when your body flashes, making reversals more of a finesse maneuver than an exercise in button mashing.
Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home is scheduled for release on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 this fall. We'll have more information on the game as it becomes available.