Devoted gamers might be familiar with Spike's Fire Pro Wrestling series, a long-running franchise of Japanese releases for consoles that debuted on the PC Engine, the Japanese version of the TurboGrafx-16. While the series has fostered a devoted international fan base, it has only made it to domestic shores twice before, in a pair of Game Boy Advance games from now-defunct Bam Entertainment.
That's going to change, as Agetec sources have confirmed to GameSpot the authenticity of messages from earlier this week on the Fire Pro Club community fan site. Those messages, posted by Agetec localization producer Mark Johnson and picked up on by Insert Credit, say that the niche publisher has acquired the rights to Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for the PlayStation 2, and is ready to release the game in North America later this year, or early next. The game is also set for a European release, though Johnson said the company not yet found a publisher in the region.
Later in the same thread, Johnson posted that this is not the first time Agetec has tried to import the Fire Pro series. The publisher had wanted to bring a previous PS2 entry--Fire Pro Wrestling Z--to the US, only to have Sony refuse to grant concept approval.
The Fire Pro Wrestling series is known for its reliance on 2D character sprites, as well as customization options that give players hundreds of options for a created wrestler's moves and appearances. Another trademark of the series is a roster of fictitious wrestlers (and more recently, mixed martial artists) divided into various federations, each with likenesses and styles suspiciously similar to those of actual pro wrestlers. Bam Entertainment addressed copyright issues by changing the appearances of the wrestlers in its pair of localized Fire Pro Wrestling games, but Agetec has not yet specified what it plans to do on that matter.
No price has been announced for the game, but Johnson said it will see release at a "very low" price point.