Wrestling's come a long way since the days when ITV stopped showing it on Saturday afternoons, it's very big news at the moment. You can't open your new copy of Look-in without being bombarded by pictures of big men in glitzy outfits. They've all got suntans, teeth, loads of money and (probably) American accents. The recent wrestling game explosion, started with Ocean's WWF licence and is bought up to date with this offering from Zeppelin, Alternative's Popeye 3 and the Codies' imminent wrestling game that'll be part of their Super Sports Challenge compilation.
Whereas Popeye 3 is basically a wrestling game with add-ons, bombs, colourful aliens and a ridiculous storyline bolted on, American Tag Team Wrestling is just, erm, basic. The only plot line here is that there's a tournament, and the only background knowledge you need is a rough idea of how a tag match works. In fact, all you really need is this review, cos I'm going to tell you that very info! Tag team wrestling involves two teams of two, and only one member of each team is allowed in the ring at a time. The teams are usually made up of one very large bloke (or woman) and one incredibly, absolutely the biggest man in the world ever (nearly). I once saw a tag match in which the two larger partners were Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. I've never seen so much flesh in my life, it was awesome. Anyway, wrestling being what it is, the big bad guy often ends up laying into the smaller good guy. The good guy's larger team-mate stretches out his hand and as soon as his team mate touches it they can swap places and the two big guys can have it out (as they say).
Tag Team Wrestling works in a similar way with such contrary couplings as Einstein and Loud Larry, and Sammy Shy and Mr Savage. You'll find that most of your opponents wear paper bags over their heads, or maybe just kept getting the same opponents. Despite this strange idea of head adornment, these guys are pretty darn hard. I'm not a bad wrestler... (You? You're a rubbish wrestler, you're not fat enough, or tall enough. And your footwork's not fancy enough. Jon) Okay, I'm a crap wrestler but I'm big enough and ugly enough to try my hand at wrestling games and I can tell you that some of your opponents are thoroughly nasty pieces of work.
I often found myself face down in the ring having my back gently massaged by the overbearing bulk of my opponent. Every time I tried to get up, he knocked me down again. And then every time I tried to tag my partner, the other side kept getting in the blimmin' way. It really was heartbreaking. To make things even more difficult, when I managed to topple this giant to the floor and sit on him, he picked himself up in seconds flat. Bruised and tearful, I left the ring.
I'm assured that there are some good moves here. Unfortunately, because I had to do without any instructions, I only found them out when I was close to death. By running up and down a few times and then letting fly with the fire button you can do a wazzy flying kick. You can also climb onto the ropes and leap off of them onto your opponent giving him a good old falling forehead smash. Yow!
Whether you play for just a single game, or for the whole of the tournament, you're bound to have fun, Your wrestling sprites are big, simple and clear. This is good from the action point of view cos it means you can still see them when they're writhing around on the floor. On the other hand, it's a shame they're not all a bit different. Except for a few skimpily-clad girlies ... who take their time wandering round the ring before each bout, there's nothing to distract you. The screen may look a little empty at times, but this simplicity really does work.
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