Fire Pro Wrestling A Hands-On

The Fire Pro Wrestling series is making its way to the Game Boy Advance. We got our hands on a final Japanese copy of the game and got our wrestle on.


Fire Pro Wrestling A, a launch title and the first wrestling game for the Game Boy Advance features recreations of many real-life wrestlers from Japanese federations such as Pride, New Japan, All Japan, and FMW, as well as many of the most popular US superstars from the major wrestling federations and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. While the real-life wrestlers are unmistakable, the game uses different names for both wrestlers and their federations to avoid legal trouble.

Challenging to say the least, Fire Pro Wrestling relies on precise timing and frantic button mashing in order to recreate the wrestling experience. The GBA controls allow you to punch, kick, run and face your opponents, while grapples are decided by timely reaction to the lock-up animation. Your wrestlers can perform standard holds, behind the back moves, ground attacks, submissions, running techniques, counters, weapons, and high risk turnbuckle leaps, on par with any wrestling title on a full-fledged modern console. Wrestlers in multiplayer matches can also perform team-up moves, such as an assisted power-bomb or a double suplex.

While there are only a small number of fighting styles in Fire Pro, the ability to edit your wrestler's individual moves set and trademark attacks allows nearly infinite customization. We easily recognized over twenty blatantly recreated US wrestlers--such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Goldberg, and Hulk Hogan--among the roster of over a hundred, each accurate down to the alternate costume choices and finishing moves. The character editor includes hundreds of face models, an extensive color palette and the ability to select individual techniques. You can then ally your created character with any of the included factions, or use one of the provided logos to create your own stable.

The game looks absolutely great, each character easily recognizable despite the relatively small size of each sprite. The move animations are highly detailed and recognizable, almost surprisingly so for a handheld system. The different rings and crowd are nearly as visually impressive, adding to the audible atmosphere created by the excited crowd reactions and upbeat musical selections.

Wrestling fans that have been disappointed by skimpy options should be delighted: Fire Pro Wrestling offers a huge array of play modes and match types. Matches can take place in a steel cage, in an Ultimate Fighting styled Octagon, in an electrified ring as well as in the standard squared circle. Different rules apply to the different venues, which can range from endurance matches against dozens of opponents, exploding rings, four-man free-for-alls to no-holds barred UFC fights, where the ref serves only to determine unconsciousness or a tap-out. There is an interesting fan-favorite match option, in which you are rated on a percentile scale according to how good of a show you've put on. Making the fans scream with taunts, wiggles, and finishers is a sure way to win the crowd over to your side and become Mr. Popularity.

In an unexpected first for the long-running Fire Pro series, Fire Pro Wrestling has been picked up for US publishing by Spike, and it will be released alongside the Game Boy Advance on June 11th.

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