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WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) artwork

WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) review

"'Despite all my rage, I am still just a dated wrestling title in a cage.'"

WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) image

In 1994, WWF Rage in the Cage was a big deal. Not only did it include a user-friendly steel cage mode, but it sported a roster of twenty wrestlers. No previously released console WWF game had even come close to (what was then) such an obscene number of competitors. Not only did the game offer you the chance to assume the role of A-list wrestlers like Bret Hart, Randy Savage, and Yokozuna, but it allowed you to play as lowered tiered characters as well. While some may shrug at the prospect of controlling the likes of Kamala, Rick Martel, The Headshrinkers, or IRS, I always felt it was neat to see them rendered in pixels. It meant that nearly full rosters were just around the corner for future WWF titles. I was excited at the possibility of witnessing attempts from future developers to top Rage in the Cage's collection of combatants and features. Never did I realize, though, that I would one day regard Rage in the Cage as a more of a fossil than a timeless classic.

WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) image

Sadly, it was only a few years before newer WWF titles rendered Rage in the Cage obsolete. 1997's WWF Warzone introduced 3D graphics and a character creation mode to the franchise. Plus, there was WWF Attitude, which offered a nearly comprehensive roster, even managing to include a few performers who were retired/on hiatus, deceased, fictional, or so unpopular that they seldom saw air time. Rage's decline from relevance didn't stop there, either, as each successive titles following Attitude introduced modes and options that further diminished Rage in the Cage's importance.

You might believe that my criticism of Rage in the Cage thus far is unfair, given that my only complaint is that Rage is antiquated. In actuality, the game's issues run deeper than mere obsolescence, as subsequent titles revealed how painfully shallow the experience actually is.

Although the game includes twenty wrestlers, their differences are almost entirely cosmetic. They all walk at the same speed, deal the same amount of damage, and even all share a single move set. In other words, it doesn't matter if you're playing as Tatanka or Bam Bam Bigelow, the moves that you can execute are limited to a few banal slams, a suplex, and a couple of dastardly attacks (eye gouge or blatant choke), and their stats are identical. This is problematic when you take into account wrestlers like Yokozuna, who weighed well over five hundred pounds in 1994. Suffice it to say that you would never see him leap from the top rope, yet Rage in the Cage allows him to execute the same terrible elbow drop as everyone else.

WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) image

Specific signature maneuvers are MIA. You won't catch Undertaker pulling off a choke slam, or witness Shawn Michaels delivering any Chin Music*, or torture rack an adversary with Lex Luger. Finishing moves, on the other hand, are present. So while you can't perform the previously listed maneuvers, you can (respectively) Tombstone, side suplex, and running forearm your opponents.

Unfortunately, all finishers deal the same amount of damage. This wouldn't be a problem, except that some are easier to initiate than others. Razor Ramon's Razor's Edge, for instance, requires you to grapple with an opponent and mash the 'Z' button until a grapple meter reaches capacity. On lower difficulty ratings, accomplishing this is no challenge at all. Bump up the rating a few notches, though, and successfully pulling off a Razor's Edge can be a struggle. On the other hand, Rick Martel's finisher, the Boston Crab, can be executed by pressing 'Z' near an incapacitated opponent's legs. There's no meter to fill up or button mashing to worry about; simply press the button and Rick will go to work. It begs the question why a player would bother using wrestlers like Razor Ramon on higher difficulties or in Tournament Mode, when other performers can execute finishers with ease.

Since each wrestler's repertoire is pretty much identical, competing in Tournament Mode is akin to battling the same man nineteen times. Yes, that's right; this game's version of "Career Mode" requires you to take on all nineteen other wrestlers in a single sitting. Complete that ordeal and the game will "treat" you to a grainy FMV of your victorious combatant celebrating. In other words, Tournament Mode is all about forcing you to work hard in the hopes of viewing a fragment of a live taping that can likely be found in its entirety on either YouTube or Daily Motion.

WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) image

WWF Rage in the Cage's harshest downer, though, is its dearth of options and modes. The game only features a standard one-on-one contest, a "brawl" match (win by completely depleting your foe's health, rather than via pinfall), and a steel cage match. Gone are the previously utilized tag team matches, Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series. What does WWF Rage in the Cage offer in their place? Crappy videos of wrestlers performing their finishers, each of which can be accessed through the character selection screen. Honestly, the developers would have been better off nixing FMVs in favor of additional play modes.

You might think that I'm being needlessly harsh towards an old school game. "Of course its features are scarce. It's old!" some might say. Well, so is Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium, which launched in 1996 on the SNES. That game featured over one hundred wrestlers, scores of different moves and maneuvers, a variety of wrestling styles, more than twice as many modes as Rage in the Cage, customizable rules (you can set the fall to two-count or submission only, for instance), and a wrestler creation mode. And it was on freakin' SNES! So no, I don't accept the excuse that the developers at Sculpted Software didn't have the technology to craft an unforgettable wrestling title, especially not when Human Entertainment did so on less advanced hardware. The bottom line, though, is that Rage in the Cage is not worthy of a wrestling fan's time. There are vastly superior titles available, both via emulation and through legit purchase--see also: Fire Pro Wrestling Returns on PlayStation 2. If you're going to touch Rage in the Cage, then I recommend only doing so out of nostalgia. Play it for a few minutes, and move on to a more advanced title.

*Shawn's finisher, circa 1994, was actually not Sweet Chin Music, but a side suplex. He did perform Chin Music as a signature move, but usually finished up his matches with either the side suplex or a pile driver.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (February 09, 2014)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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