With the possible exception of Fighter Hayabusa and his Back Brain Kick (from the ancient NES Pro Wrestling), stateside gamers haven't had a chance to witness the Japanese version of America's number one semi-sport. Most people don't know that the Japanese are very serious about pro wrestling, to the extent that they have their own stars and big title matches. Where we have World Championship Wrestling, they have New Japan Pro Wrestling; and just as we get licensed wrestling games every now and then, so do they. Enter Toukon Retsuden 2 (the sequel to the title Activision released in the U.S. as Power Move Pro Wrestling), the most realistic and dynamic wrestling game released in either land. Featuring many of Japan's top-billed athletes and an array of their signature moves, Toukon Retsuden 2 is not only an awesome game, but also a candid look at Japanese-style fascination with professional wrestling.
Toukon Retsuden 2 isn't particularly easy to play. Since its daunting main menu and in-game text are entirely in Japanese, you may have trouble starting a match without some knowledge of the language. And once you do get going, you'll find the control to be stiff and not as responsive as it should be. Punches and kicks are sluggish on the draw, while grapple attempts lag big time if they miss. Even getting back into the ring after being tossed out proves to be no easy task. Nonetheless, you'll get accustomed to the feel of the game in due time, and a little practice will move you along the cumbersome learning curve. Soon enough you'll be pulling off power bombs and moon saults with the best of em and that's when you'll realize Toukon Retsuden 2 is a lot of fun to play.
Eighteen of Japan's pro wrestling all-stars take to the squared circle in Toukon Retsuden 2, ranging from the NJPW chairman Antonio Inoki to the dazzling aerial performer known only as Jyushin Thunder Lyger. The polygonal characters, completely texture-mapped (unlike the first game), look big and highly detailed. Each is motion captured in detail and commands his trademark grapples, taunts, and pins. Though its look doesn't match the visceral splendor of true polygonal fighting games like Namco's Tekken 2, Toukon Retsuden 2's visuals are totally unprecedented for a wrestling game. Moreover, there's a lot of action happening onscreen - up to four wrestlers can pound on each other at once, while a referee and a polygonal audience look on - and it's all very sharp. A surprisingly catchy soundtrack, and excellent crowd cheering and refereeing, support the action specifically and the game in general. These are the extra touches that push Toukon 2 over the top. Suffice to say its authentic audio and crisp, realistic graphics make for a winning tag-team.
With its remarkable selection of gameplay options (from a one-on-one title match to an all-out four-player battle royale), as well as its large and colorful cast of athletes, Toukon Retsuden 2 packs more depth and variety than any other wrestling title yet made. And between its impressive graphics and sound, not to mention its lavish and believable presentation of the Japanese sport, you've got yourself one heck of a good game, too. If you're serious about wrestling, or sometimes wonder how anyone could ever be, then you must take a look at Toukon Retsuden 2.