Initially released in 2000 on Neo Geo Pocket Color, Big Bang Pro Wrestling is now a contender on the Nintendo Switch. The game holds up reasonably well on the Switch, especially since the competition on the Nintendo platform is scarce. And while Big Bang Pro Wrestling packs a good punch, a few elements make for a frustrating experience.
You can play four different modes: one match (basically an exhibition match), tournament, IEW Champion, and VS Match, which allows you to battle against a friend (or foe). The IEW Champion is the primary way to play, as this is the story mode, allowing you to choose between eight different wrestlers to compete for the IEW title.
Each competitor has different abilities, moves, strengths, and weaknesses. For example, Sho Hayama is a technician, whereas The Great Eagle is a quick, high-flying wrestler. The wrestlers are modeled off of professional wrestlers during the late 1990s/early 2000s. Some are easy to pick out, like Deitz, whose looks and moves are similar to The Undertaker, and Alex Fall, whose finisher looks like The Rock Bottom. Each wrestler has a unique look, and for a pixelated, handheld game, the detail for each wrestler is impressive. I wish I could say the same for the names, though. Names like Brian, Alex, Mike, and David just scream jobber. I also wish there were more wrestlers to choose from or an option to create a wrestler. I know that might be asking a lot for a handheld game developed in 2000, but for current-gen consoles, I expect it.
I appreciate how much attention to detail went into the game. Besides the distinctive look of each character, the matches also offer variety. There is the classic match, No Rules (weapons and falls count anywhere), Coffin (throw your opponent into a coffin), and Reward (climb up a pole to get the bag of money to win). Some moments made me smile in the matches, like when I accidentally knocked down the ref by running into him. Purposefully knocking out the ref or using a weapon (which can be pulled from the crowd) during a standard match will disqualify you. Some of the animations are also impressive, like when I was in a sleeper-hold, and the ref picked up my arm, it dropped two times before my character’s hand started to shake, and I reversed the hold.
The IEW Champion mode is also well done. I figured that the credits would have rolled after I won the title. However, I went on to defend my title against opponents who felt they deserved another shot. During my run at the title, the matches were all standard matches. However, once I became champion, the events ranged from Deathmatches (no rules) to Reward matches.
There is no health bar in the game, but your character’s name will start flashing when you can pull off a finisher. A very short cutscene plays if you execute your finisher, and it feels satisfying when you pull it off. Each wrestler has a unique finisher.
Most of my experience with the game was pleasant, but I got frustrated with the grappling mechanic. It’s based on timing, and if you don’t hit the A button correctly, you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a punishing move. Unfortunately, no indicator lets you know if you hit the button correctly. A similar experience occurred while trying to climb up to get the money in a Reward match. My opponent had no issues climbing up to get the cash or knocking me off the pole; however, I struggled with the timing.
Big Bang Pro Wrestling is a big fish in a small pond, as it doesn’t have much competition. So if you are looking for a trip down memory lane, this is a fun game. However, keep looking if you fancy a game that incorporates more modern wrestling game mechanics.