Tag Team Match: M.U.S.C.L.E. is one of those NES games you might have rented on a Friday night and given up on it by Saturday morning. You would watch some cartoons, play the game for ten minutes, and then go outside to find a stick to play with. I’m sure many people have had this experience in the 90s.
It is a shame because I used to like collecting Muscle Men figures. Sure, they were cheap plastic, but I enjoyed playing with them. They were like a version of those green and peach-colored plastic army men.
There are better M.U.S.C.L.E. games on the Super Famicom. I’ll get to those games at a later point. Let’s talk about this game, even if there isn’t much to say about it.
TLDR: MUSCLE might have been good in the 80s. It is terrible in the 2020s.
There is no story to this game. You’re just creating a tag team from the eight possible characters, and you play until you lose. I wasn’t expecting a story in the game, but it would have been nice if some goal was given to you.
These are all tag team matches. There is no story mode, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason these characters are fighting. I’m guessing the manual has something in it, but seeing how the story of M.U.S.C.L.E. wasn’t brought to the US, I doubt it is in the manual.
This is a high score game. You keep playing until you lose. It is very much like an arcade game from the 80s.
There are eight playable characters. They all play the same, and none of them have names. They look like the collectible figures. Each character also has a finishing move. Anyway, here is a list of the characters:
- Robin Mask
- Brocken Jr/Geronimo
Brocken Jr. and Geronimo are the same characters. Brocken Jr. has slightly different graphics and is only in the Japanese Version of the game.
The wrestling is very limited. You have a punch and a drop kick. You can pull off a German suplex if you get behind your opponent. The computer pulled off all kinds of moves, but I couldn’t perform anything special.
Matches are all 2 out of 3 falls. Like fighting games, if you win two matches, you’ll beat the opposing team and move to the next match.
The controls are horrible. It is mostly button-mashing. If you can hit your opponent, then you should consider yourself lucky. This is just not fun to play.
There is a power-up that randomly appears on the screen. It seems to help out the computer quite a bit, and when I got it, I didn’t notice any change. It was one of the more infuriating things about the game.
After reading through the manual, I know what that stupid power-up does. You need it to perform your finishing moves. Once you get it, you need to either face your opponent or get behind them and press A. Your character will then do their finishing move.
Tagging in your partner is easy. That is one of the more refreshing parts of this mess. I wanted something nice to say about the gameplay.
You’re given five hit points. Once you’re out of hit points, then you lose the match. There are no pins, submissions, or count outs. It is like every match is a last-man-standing match.
One more thing about the life bar. When you tag in another wrestler, then you gain some health back. It also seems like hit points are randomly given and taken away. It is very odd!
This could have been a fun game. I can also see some people having a little nostalgia for it. However, I think the gameplay is terrible.
I like the way the game looks. The characters look goofy and cartoonish, but that is what I would have been expecting. Some of the moves look good, and the ring looks good as well.
However, it isn’t anything special. It is better than WWF WrestleMania but looks much worse than Pro Wrestling and WCW Wrestling.
There isn’t much more to say about the graphics. They look fine for the NES, but they aren’t anything special. I like the cartoon look of the characters, which is about it.
6/10. I could see this being a fun game for a few minutes. However, it feels like one of those regrettable rentals that excite you with the cover art, only to be ignored until you have to return it. I would rather play one of the other wrestling games.
- Easy to play
- Nice graphics
- Bad controls
- No story mode
- Two game modes
- Cheap opponents
I was disappointed with this game. I have some nostalgia for collecting Muscle Men when I was little, and I wanted this game to be better than it was.
This suffers from bad controls, few gameplay modes, and the characters are basically the same. In some ways, this feels like two kids playing with their toys. It would be nice if there were a story or a championship that your characters were fighting for.
This is the worst wrestling game I’ve played so far. It is more of a fighting game than a professional wrestling game. I would have been more excited to play it if there were more to it.