WWF No Mercy (Nintendo 64) review
"I have been a major fan of professional wrestling since I was around ten years old, so of course Iíve played nearly all of the wrestling games released on any console. From the old SNES titles to the newer Smackdown! games, I have spent my share of time in the squared circle. That being said, I have never played a wrestling game as entertaining, addictive, or long-lasting as WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64. "
I have been a major fan of professional wrestling since I was around ten years old, so of course Iíve played nearly all of the wrestling games released on any console. From the old SNES titles to the newer Smackdown! games, I have spent my share of time in the squared circle. That being said, I have never played a wrestling game as entertaining, addictive, or long-lasting as WWF No Mercy for the Nintendo 64.
One of the main draws of No Mercy is the Championship Mode, which is basically the season mode of the game. What makes No Mercy stand out from the wrestling games of today is that the Championship Mode is separated out into different chapters and depending on if you win a match or lose a match, the story branches off into different directions. This adds loads of replayability, though it is sometimes annoying when you have to lose on purpose just to go in a different story direction.
The major drawback that definitely holds No Mercy from a perfect ten score (a score it was so close at reaching) is the Championship Modeís insistency on placing you in handicap matches. While these matches are indeed winnable, they are still annoying for newcomers and may turn many gamers off with their seemingly impossible appearance (even on the easiest game setting). Most of the other matches in Championship Mode are very entertaining and almost make up for the constant handicap matches. Later on in the game, there will be some pretty intense matches that can last nearly half an hour long.
Right under Championship Mode is a Survival Mode where the basic goal is set up similarly to a Royal Rumble. That is, there are four superstars in the ring at one time, and when one superstar is eliminated, another superstar runs out to the ring and the match continues. What separates Survival Mode from a Royal Rumble is that there isnít a pre-set amount of superstars in Survival Mode, instead it just keeps track on how many superstars were eliminated, and the match doesnít end until you are eliminated. By playing Survival Mode you can earn some cash as well as unlock some new superstars for your roster.
The money you earn can be spent at the Smackdown! Mall where you can purchase a wide variety of stuff. Firstly, you can purchase some new clothes for the Edit-A-Superstar and Create-A-Superstar modes. Secondly, you can get your hands on some new moves for your superstars, and lastly, you can buy new superstars and weapons. Some of the buyable superstars range from the heartbreak kid Shawn Michaels to one of Godfatherís prostitutes. There are also some pretty hilarious and interesting weapons you can purchase, including a bazooka and a giant copy of The Rockís autobiography.
With a story mode that has loads of different directions it can go, an entertaining arcade-like feature called Survival Mode, and tons of items, moves, and superstars to purchase, you would think that No Mercy wouldnít be able to hold much more. On the contrary, WWF No Mercy has an entirely immersive Create-A-Superstar Mode that is loads of fun to mess around with. Even though No Mercy is an old game originating on the Nintendo 64 around eight years ago, Iíd say the customization rivals that of Oblivion. You can change nearly anything about the superstarís looks, but not only that you can create an entirely customized move set for them by picking and choosing between every move found in the game (and later the ones you purchased). You can choose which attributes the superstars excel in, and you can choose which superstars is their ally or enemy (which affects the interfering prospect of the exhibition matches).
Youíd think that that would be enough for the customization, and honestly I would have been satisfied with only that, but No Mercy goes the extra mile and provides even more customization features, ranging from creating your own stable (basically a group of wrestlers, for example, D-Generation X) to creating your very own pay-per-view event. Even with all this customization added, I still have to sadly note that the game lacks a Create-A-Belt feature, something its predecessor (WWF WrestleMania 2000) had.
An Exhibition Mode allows you to duke it out in a variety of matches against the other superstars. These matches are customizable to, and even though you may think the game lacks certain matches (for example, a Submission Match) you can customize the rules to create that match. There are ladder matches and cage matches, which both rely on climbing and ferociously tapping the A button while having a high spirit meter in order to reach your goal. What is most interesting about the Exhibition Mode is that you can wrestle for the championship belts you won in Championship Mode, adding that much more replayability to the mix.
Whatís a spirit meter you ask? Well, the spirit meter is a color-coded meter that gauges how well youíre doing in a match. If your spirit meter is high it is a dark red, but when it is low it is a light blue. If your spirit meter is dark red and blinking, then you can taunt to obtain your Special. While having your Special, you can obviously use your Special moves, and you have one for nearly any position your opponent could be in. It is tricky at first to get the hang of nailing your Special, but once you get the hang of it youíll be able to pull it off without a hitch.
Graphically, No Mercy is actually pretty impressive for 64 standards. Though the wrestlers look absolutely ridiculous (their faces look like they were drawn on), this actually adds some charm to the title. There are some decent shadow effects, and when superstars are dragged under the bottom rope, the rope actually bounces realistically. The moves you can pull off in the ring look as perfect as you could ask for. Sure there are some graphical hiccups like items going through wrestlers, but the most noticeable one is the slowdown that occurs when the maximum number of four wrestlers is in the ring at once. This isnít really a hassle, but it is very noticeable that when youíre in a regular single match, the wrestlers move a lot faster than they do if you were in a match involving four superstars.
I do have some complaints with the audio that also hold No Mercy back from reaching that perfect ten score. The only audio is that of the wrestlerís entrances and some original tunes that basically just repeat the same thing over and over. You can only take so much ďDig-diggity-dig-diggity-dog-mmm-take itĒ until you want to mute the game. This is one of the areas where the newer wrestling titles stand out, since the newer systems have enough power to add some licensed tracks, while the Nintendo 64 sadly does not.
By borrowing actual storylines from the WWF at the time, No Mercy does provide an interesting story experience, even though it is considered a game of the sports genre. The twists and turns as you try to earn that certain championship are enough to keep any gamer interested while it lasts, but there are usually only ten chapters until itís over. Not only that, but the European Championship doesnít even really have much of a story, you basically win it after the first match and then defend it repeatedly. That doesnít sound like much fun does it? Thatís probably because it isnít.
Like Iíve mentioned repeatedly throughout this review, there is a ton of replayability. Even after you earn all the Championships, you will still feel obliged to play through them again to earn that ever-elusive 100% rating. Survival Mode is fun for a little while, and there is a ton of items to buy in Smackdown! Mall. The customization is amazing and there are loads to try out in that department. Multiplayer matches in Exhibition Mode will definitely give the game an even longer life, making No Mercy one of the most playable wrestling games of all time.
To this day, whenever I play a new Smackdown! title, I can never help but compare it with WWF No Mercy. There is always a game that is released that is on the top-tier of its genre, and the other games that are released afterwards should make it their goal to out-do that title. Many wrestling games have tried to dethrone No Mercy, but so far their attempts have been to no avail. Simply put, No Mercy is one of the best games I have ever played and the best wrestling game of all time. Itís true, itís true.
Community review by horror_spooky (November 18, 2007)
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