Developer: SNK/Code Mystics
Hey dear reader, your eyes do not deceive you! This is in fact a review of a wrestling game that isn?t done by Paul. This is most likely because it comes from the Neo Geo Pocket Color that I got higher priority, but enough banter regarding the site?s politics (or lack thereof), let’s get to the main event. SNK once again has stealthily added to its Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection by releasing a title which never saw a domestic release in the US. Big Bang Pro Wrestling stepped out of the gorilla position in Japan on November 23rd, 2000 and stayed there until this port came out over 21 years later. It?s never spawned any sequels and oddly has no ties to SNK?s other wrestling game 3 Count Bout. So will the warriors of IEW electrify Nintendo Switch fans everywhere or should they return to the bingo halls and high school gyms never to be heard from again.
Big Bang Pro Wrestling plays a lot like the Fire Pro Wrestling series. No visible health indicators, simplistic controls, a grapple system which rewards the player who inputs their actions fastest, the ability to more or less hit their finishing move at any time are features that make an appearance in this game. However Fire Pro?s robust creation suite didn?t make the cut, but you do have 8 IEW originals (10 if you unlock the story mode?s final boss and his female ex-manager). Each wrestler has a couple of unique moves to call their own.
Since the game?s grappling system gives the advantage to the character that inputs their actions first, timing is everything. Unfortunately for me, I had a hard time pinning down the most appropriate moment to press my actions (even on the easy difficulty), giving me a win – loss record that even AEW?s Pretty Peter Avalon would look down on.
Wrestling has many match times and Big Bang Pro Wrestling keeps it to a strictly one on one affair. Given its limited roster and portable nature, you can almost forgive it. I also cut the game some slack because it actually has some match types which are seldom seen in other titles, specifically the ?Reward? Match and the Coffin Match. The reward match requires the winner to retrieve a bag of money hung on a pole outside of the ring, and the coffin match ends when one of the competitors gets thrown into a coffin that is situated ring side. It spices things up slightly and adds a bit of longevity to the title. The game also has a story mode which will pit you against the entire IEW roster culminating with a showdown against the IEW champ, Josef Steele.
As part of the Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection, this title has features which are common to any sibling releases. Customizable skins for the virtual NGPC, the ability to switch regions (in this title, playing in the Japanese region will net an extra ring mat design), rewinding gameplay, single system multiplayer with 2 Joy-Cons and a fully translated digital manual (which is much needed and appreciated). So the wrapper that Code Mystics puts on these releases are as solid and stable as ever.
Big Bag Pro Wrestling isn?t gonna topple the latest and greatest the WWE has to offer, but given the Switch is seriously deprived of wrestling titles, even this one can be appreciated if you?re looking for some grappling action on the go. It was also refreshing to see a NGPC title get put out that isn?t a straight fighting game, so if NGPC Pocket Selection vol. 2 is going to be a thing at least it will be a lot more diverse than vol. 1. Given that this obscure title was given a chance in the west, Faselei! can?t be far behind, right?
Note: SNK provided us with a Big Bang Pro Wrestling Switch code for review purposes.