WWE Video Games Series – Chapter 1 : MicroLeague Wrestling
Hello everyone and welcome to another Fowl Original. The WWE has licensed out its name to many products over the years. Calendars, T-Shirts, Mugs and of course inevitably Video Games. With over 40 years of video games I thought it could be interesting to go back through these games from the late 1980s. All the way through to the current WWE 2K series right now.
Today, let’s look at MicroLeague Wrestling – The First WWE Licensed video game.
Ask most people what the first WWF video game was, and they will probably tell you WWF WrestleMania on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. That was the second. There was another. The first licensed video game by the then WWF, now WWE was actually called MicroLeague Wrestling. The game was released to microcomputers, the Commodore 64 and Atari ST in 1987. An Amiga and a DOS version for PCs, would follow in 1989. The game was developed by MicroLeague and published as part of their MicroLeague sports series alongside titles such as MicroLeague Baseball.
The first game released on cassette tape, lets you pick from two matches. Either Hulk Hogan Vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage on side one and Hulk Hogan V “Mr Wonderful” Paul Orndorf on the other. Further expansion packs called “WWF Superstar Series” were released in 1987. These would feature WWF superstars such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts” and The Honky Tonk Man.
- First up you get to pick either the match on the disk or load one of the expansion disks
- You can play with either Mouse, Keyboard, Joystick or any combination of the 2
- There’s an option for either 1 or 2 players
- Then you get to pick from either a 10 or 20 minute time limit with a special 60 minute grudge match option too.
- But that’s not all you can also pick a custom name for the arena that you’ll be wrestling in, which is a nice touch.
Each of the matches start with Mean Gene Okerlund interviewing each of the participants with full text promos to help hype up the upcoming match. We then get the introductions from Howard Finkel before taking it to the ring.
For fans of current wrestling games the control scheme is a million miles away from what we are used to. The game is close to a turn based RPG or Role Playing Game like Final Fantasy. You pick a move from a selection in an onscreen list and your opponent gets to pick theirs. Based on the timing and in game engine, you will either take or cause damage.
Each of the wrestlers on the in game roster, have 5 “basic” moves like a wristlock, stomp or a punch. 4 “major” moves like a suplex or atomic bomb and one “super” move like the leg drop.
The basic moves cause 2 damage points, the major moves cause 4 damage points, the super moves cause 6 damage points, and are the only way to pin your opponent. In addition to this, If you’re a good guy or face wrestler you can attempt a special move to try and pump up the crowd for some momentum to recover some damage. If you’re a bad guy or heel wrestler you can try to cheat with some special tactics but there is a chance you could be disqualified if caught.
The matches contain text commentary beneath the match by Vince McMahon with either Jesse “The Body” Ventura or Bruno Sammartino. In the later expansions, this would also include Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Lord Alfred Hayes.
The look of the game is quite impressive for something that hit the market back in 1987. The game has digitized graphics which make up the matches, moves and promo packages before matches.The animations for the suplex for example looks great.The images seem to have come from actual in ring footage from the WWE tape library and really shine here. The screen is something you will see in a lot of games from that era and I’m sure it gives a lot of us a healthy dose of nostalgia. The damage bar between the wrestlers, the on screen clock and of course the lists of moves.
Owning a microcomputer myself here in the UK in the 1990s, I can tell you this would have taken pride of place in my Commodore 64 collection. Of course the limitations of a microcomputer are on show here and the slideshow style gameplay does work for this game. It does really limit the replayability factor though.
Like most games on Microcomputers at the time we have a very limited soundtrack and in this case it’s a midi version of the WWF Superstars theme from the 1980’s. Not too bad and with such a short game it doesn’t get too annoying too fast.
Two Expansion disks were released for the Commodore 64 and Atari ST in 1988, called the “WWF Superstar Series”. The first would have Randy Savage V Honky Tonk Man on Side one and Hacksaw Jim Duggan V King Harley Race on Side 2. The second disk featured Hulk Hogan V “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase on Side 1 and Jake “The Snake” Roberts V Ravishing Rick Rude on Side 2.
This first game would be a great way to kick off the video game and wrestling connection during the height of Hulkamania. The game is quite short with a full play session of any of the sides lasting about up to the maximum of 60 minutes.
After the 1989 Amiga and DOS releases, the WWE would shift it’s attention away from computers and towards consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System. More about that next time when we look at the first WWE console game. 1989’s WWF WrestleMania on the NES.
Did you play the MicroLeague Wrestling game?
Do you think a turn based wrestling game could work today?
Sound off in the comments
Check this out as a video on YouTube below
⇓While you’re here why not subscribe to our newsletter below⇓