I've said before that there are only two wrestling games worth playing: WWF No Mercy for the N64 and WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role for the PS1. While the former is technically a better game, the latter has always been my favorite. It was made by Yuke's, whom make most all the wresting games since 2000, as well as UFC games, Berserk games, and the strange Evil Zone. SmackDown! 2 is fast paced, has a lot of wacky shit, and also happens to come from the era in which I watched the stuff. My opinion is no doubt clouded by nostalgia, but I contest that it is a fun game, with lots of entertaining things to do. At the very least, it is the only game I can think of that let me create a horrific effigy of Mega Man.
And that is definitely a huge factor in my love for SmackDown! 2, the options for character creation are completely insane. While most games only allow the player choose a general body type, this game allows a creator to choose the size of each individual portion of the body, thus Mega Man. I'm not going to say it is a great rendition of the character, but I still think it is pretty impressive considering the game. I mean, if I didn't mention that his helmet isn't actually a helmet, but a flatly colored turban, I don't think anyone would have figured it out. I liked using him so much that I also created Proto Man, who was decent; Bass, who was awful; and Roll, who looked like a deformed prostitute. I guess that is just how all women end up looking in the WWF.
Other interesting characters I created include Mr. T, who at least makes sense in the context of a wrestling game, and Michael Jackson. He doesn't make much sense in a wrestling match, but I was able to decently recreate him in Thriller style. It is a great deal fun watching these characters fight against some of the turn-of-the-millennium WWF stars, as well as some of the weirder bonus characters. My favorite bonus character is scrawny commentator Micheal Cole. The best part of this was that it was possible to take existing characters and edit them in various ways, which led to me creating SHIN MICHAEL COLE, a gigantic version of Michael Cole that had the moves of The Giant/Big Show.
My wackiness aside, it is a fun wrestling game. The player's moves are separated into striking and grapples, with X being one O being the other, and pressing various directions in combination with those buttons give the player different attacks. Square is a counter button that can catch striking attacks and put the player on the advantage. Some grapples may also be countered, but it is dependent on the characters current strength and also random luck. Triangle is the run button, and it, along with quick dodges performed by double tapping a direction and the general speed of striking attacks, makes the game go at a fast pace that is really enjoyable. There is a lot of maneuvering to get into the proper position to grab someone in just the right way.
|Ladies and gentlemen, this is proof anything can happen in the World Wrestling Federation!|
Each player also gets super bar. Each time they do damage to the opponent, it fills up, holding a stock of up to five (though the amount is adjustable and defaults at two) super strong finishers. There are two levels of grapples, the regular ones that will happen most of the time, and the dizzy ones that will only happen when the opponent is stunned. Dizzy grapples are considerably stronger, add more to the super bar, and most finishers are dizzy grapples, so dizzying the opponent is really important. The funny thing is, all of the best finishers hurt the opponent a lot, so if the player has enough stocked up, they can do one, pick the opponent up and do it again, repeating until the super bar is empty. The funniest part is that the bigger the finisher, the more super bar it gives, so instead of a fully stocked Undertaker being able to do five of his “the last ride” he can do eight in a row. I'm pretty sure if he did that in a match wrestling fans would shit their pants.
One thing that SmackDown! 2 gets right is the amount of variety it offers for matches. There are a ton of different types of matches, not just the typical normal matches, cage matches, and royal rumbles. Those are there, but so are ladder matches, casket matches, table matches, and my personal favorite, the Hell in a cell. Some of these are pretty janky, like how it is particularly difficult to grab the belt in a ladder match, but for the most part they are a lot of fun. Another favorite of mine are anywhere fall matches, in which it is possible to explore a rather large amount of interconnected rooms and attack the opponent with various odd weapons. There are things like shopping carts, plates, park benches, and stuff like that, but the best is the area that has routinely passing cars, which can be used to commit vehicular manslaughter. Nothing feels better than whipping Shane McMahon into an oncoming car and rolling out of the way at the last second.
SmackDown! 2 is just fucking crazy in so many ways it is hard not to love it. With the character creation, the fast combat, and the weird season mode, I just can't recommend it enough. It has some problems, particularly the atrocious load times and some weird glitches, most of which are associated with the season mode. I mean, it is funny when The Rock and The Rock are satisfied with their victory, standing next to each other conjoined at the shoulder and nodding at each other to show how satisfied they are. Still, it is a fun mode that really captures the weirdness of wrestling story lines. I don't know why people do back flips when hit with a Stone Cold Stunner (or the Mega Stunner as I call it when Mega Man uses it), but I'm sure glad they do.