For all the talk (and thereâ€™s a lot of it) present in Pro Wrestling, sometimes, what you actually want is to pick up a dude and slam him repeatedly on a tightly stretched canvas until you can pin him for three seconds. Thereâ€™s a gladiatorial purity to the spectacle (which Iâ€™m hesitant to call a sport for reasons of internet arguments) that, if you get it, you absolutely get it. If you donâ€™t, then you probably still wonâ€™t after playing this.
Big Bang Pro Wrestling is the umpteenth successfully polished re-release in SNKâ€™s quietly competent Neo Geo Pocket Color Nintendo Switch conversions that brings the usual quality of life features like a not-at-all-bad-but-not-quite-right screen filter, in-game manual, and emulation shortcuts that weâ€™ve had as standard since ZSNES.
A good wrestling game needs two things: suitably bombastic presentation, and a bizarrely deep system underneath for pulling off the carefully choreographed dance moves. Despite the limitations of the handheld, Big Bang delivers on both fronts. The 8-bit colour palette shines brightly in highly saturated shades that pop like a pyrotechnic entrance and outline the impressive special effects and bodily definition of the gameâ€™s fictional roster.
I should stress, I suppose, that this is all very much in context. These graphics look great for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, but if youâ€™re coming into this expecting an indie-or-above level of visual detail, then you clearly havenâ€™t looked at the screenshots.
Remaining â€˜in contextâ€™, the modes of play on offer are reasonably impressive, considering. Keeping in mind that this was originally a portable game released 20-plus years ago, the option to have a coffin match in your pocket is novel, especially at a time when even the modern renditions of the â€˜sportâ€™ are often shying away from the more ridiculous aspects of the presentation.
Also â€˜in contextâ€™, there are eight wrestlers you can get to grips (or, if you like, grasp) with but once youâ€™ve taken them all through the few modes on offer, youâ€™re not left with a lot else to do.
Still, the act of doing it is pleasant, especially if youâ€™ve played any of the Fire Pro series. The input limits of the NGPC left you with just two face buttons, and youâ€™ll tie grapples and strikes together with meticulous timing to master your offence. Yâ€™know, eventually.
Truth is, if youâ€™ve never played with this sort of system before, youâ€™ll be lying on your proverbial back staring up at the metaphorical lights for much of your time because thereâ€™s a surprising amount of precision and competence required for you to do well. I came at it from a lifetime of playing all the wrestling games I could get my hands on, so I did okay, but many of you out there with little experience will find a steep learning curve before your first pin.
But letâ€™s shoot for a second (thatâ€™s wrestling jargon for â€˜telling the truthâ€™). Thereâ€™s a very small niche of people who will be interested in Big Bang Pro Wrestling in the very slim Venn Diagram of â€˜wrestling fans who want to play a 20+ year old Japan-exclusive handheld 8-bit wrestling gameâ€™, and to you people, I can honestly say â€œYes, itâ€™s worth it.”
Yes, both of you.
BBPW was absolutely the best wrestling game on the Neo Geo Pocket Color in the year 2000. In 2022, on the Switch? Itâ€™s great if itâ€™s made for you, but the chances of that are pretty slim (Jim).
Big Bang Pro Wrestling, published by SNK, is out now on the Switch eShop.