WWF Steel Cage Challenge is a game that I tried to enjoy. My only memories of playing this game are on an emulator. If my friends and I rented it in the early 90s, I have no memory of it.
This is one of those games that fits the LJN stereotype. The character sprites are the same for every character, with minor graphical changes. A similar thing happened with their X-MEN game, which I dread playing, but I know it will pop up at some point.
This is one of the better games that LJN published. It isn’t a good game, but it is playable. It tries some new things, but none of them are executed all that well. I would still recommend Pro Wrestling, Tecmo World Wrestling, and WCW Wrestling.
TLDR: Steel Cage Challenge is Okay, but it has Many Problems.
There is no story in this game. However, you have a challenge mode for the WWF and Tag Team Championships. This adds something that could let the player create their own storyline.
I haven’t mentioned this before, but I think it needs to be said. Pro Wrestling is a character and story-driven show/athletic competition. It tries to get the viewer invested in what the wrestlers are doing and get people to tune back in each week. Yet the video games didn’t have story modes early on.
There were limits on what could be done in an NES game, and Steel Cage Challenge does offer more than other wrestling games. However, other games were able to work a story mode into the game, or they provided a story in the manual.
WWF Steel Cage Challenge is a very strike-heavy game. It can be abusive, as you only need to punch and kick your opponent. There are grapple moves, turnbuckle attacks, and running attacks. However, these are few and far between, and they aren’t all that effective.
The game has a decent roster of playable characters. Here is a list of them:
- Hulk Hogan
- The Undertaker
- Randy Savage
- Ted DiBiase
- Roddy Piper
- Sid Justice
- The Mountie
- Brett Hart
- Irwin R. Schyster
- Jake Roberts
This seems okay for an NES game. However, several other wrestlers could’ve been added to the game. Like other wrestling games, I find it odd that tag teams are kept mainly off the roster. The only one I can see on the game’s roster is Money Inc (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster).
I think the Ultimate Warrior was going through his first exit from the company, but other wrestlers like Andre the Giant, The Road Warriors, The Bushwhackers, and Ric Flair were here. I wish there was more information about likeness rights concerning these games, but I couldn’t find it.
There are several game modes here, but we also lose some things. Here is a list of the matches and modes:
- One on One – Single Player with or without the cage
- Tag Team – Requires a second player
- Tag Team Championship – You need a second player for tag matches which is pathetic.
- WWF Championship – You wrestle each character in the game, and you’ll have a cage match.
The tag team matches are the most disappointing part of this. You need a second player or, at the very least, a second controller. It doesn’t make much sense, as other games from this period were able to pull off single-player tag matches.
The big draw here is the cage matches. These are okay but have some issues. You lose the ring ropes, which means the running attacks become harder because you run into the cage instead of the ropes.
Climbing the cage is easy enough, but it is equally easy to be knocked off it. It is a good attempt as a cage match, but it isn’t all that great. I think it would have been fun at the time, but I remember it being more frustrating when I played the game in the late 90s.
Each character has the same set of moves. This is rather disappointing and goes along with how the game looks. It does make it easier to play, but it also makes it dull because there is no difference between the characters.
There are no special moves or finishers in the game. I can only speculate as to why this happened. I’m guessing it was a time issue or related to memory constraints.
Overall, the gameplay is okay. The lack of finishing moves, the same moves for each character, and some modes requiring a second player keep this game from being good. It is playable, but I prefer Pro Wrestling or Tecmo World Wrestling.
There are some good things in this game. The visuals aren’t exactly one of them. The characters are all pallet swaps of each other.
Every character is the same. They have the same moves, the same body type, and the same animations. This helped out the developer to get the game finished, but it hurt the game by not being on the same level as the better NES wrestling games.
It is odd when you have characters of different heights and weights, but they look the same on the screen. It reminds me of other games that LJN published.
The ring looks good. I like the perspective that it used. It is easy to line up attacks, and things look much better than WWF Wrestlemania and M.U.S.C.L.E.
The steel cage doesn’t look that great. This was the era of the WWF’s Big Blue cage, so it looks somewhat accurate. However, the NES doesn’t make this look all that great, and it just looks like a grid slapped over the ring ropes.
Overall, the game looks okay. It isn’t going to blow anyone away with its graphics. The graphics aren’t the biggest concern of all the problems that Steel Cage Challenge has.
7/10. There are some different game modes, the graphics are okay, and the gameplay is decent enough. It isn’t all that great, but it is playable. For an LJN game, it is one of the better games. It is an average game compared to the rest of the NES library.
- Several Game Modes
- Decent Roster
- Easy to Play
- Every Wrestler is the same
- Limited Move Sets
- No Single-Player Tag Team Matches
This was one of the games I was looking forward to playing. I remember playing in High School when I was playing NES games on an emulator. It was also a game I looked for when collecting games in the late 90s.
WWF Steel Cage Challenge is a game that I tried to enjoy. I remember being interested in it when I found the ROM on the internet, but I got frustrated after a few attempts to play it. I could see this game being fun with a group of friends.
It isn’t bad, but other wrestling games are much better. This is one of the games you would only get if you have nostalgia for it or are going for a complete set of NES games. It is an okay game that isn’t as good as Pro Wrestling, Tecmo World Wrestling, or WCW Wrestling.