HammerLock Wrestling is much better than I was expecting. I can see why the game might not be considered the best, but it has a lot going for it when compared to the other wrestling games on the SNES. It was surprisingly fun to play!
The biggest problem I have is with the visual presentation of the game. It divides the screen into three sections and keeps moving them around to follow the action. It is like someone game a WWF game with too much sugar.
Because this isn’t using a license, it could be its own thing. This is one of the game’s strengths. You have some colorful characters that all feel different, making the gameplay much better. HammerLock Wrestling has many things you would expect from a wrestling game, and it does many of them very well.
TLDR: Surprisingly Good Gameplay with a Bad Visual Presentation
There isn’t much on this game out there. HammerLock was released in 1994 in Japan and North America and was developed by Jaleco. It doesn’t look like the game made it to other regions.
In Japan, the game was called Tenryu Genichiro no Pro Wrestling Revolution. Tenryu Genichiro is a Japanese wrestler and wrestling promoter. I’m not sure which wrestler he is in the game, and I wonder if the other wrestlers are based on real people.
I wasn’t able to find more information about the game. I’m sure it is out there, but I couldn’t find much through English language searches.
There is no story in this game. This isn’t a big problem, but I would like one of these games to try to have a story mode. Not having a story means you need to use your imagination.
This is the upside to not having a story. You get to create your storylines for why these tournaments are taking place, and you get to create a set of championships to compete for. It would have been interesting to see one of these games try to make a story mode, but it still wasn’t necessary.
I checked the manual, and I didn’t see anything there either. Instead of doing world-building, the manual tosses nonsense at you and attempts to be clever. I’m sure this worked for someone.
You’re left with a group of somewhat realistic wrestlers in an unnamed wrestling company. I almost wish this had a license because it would’ve been awesome to see which company went with this style.
The gameplay is pretty good. The moves are easy to do, it is easy to line up attacks, and each character feels different. There is only one strange thing that came up with the gameplay.
Both wrestlers have a strange habit of collapsing on the mat. After a move is performed, both wrestlers will collapse on the mat for no reason. If you try a submission move, once the move is broken, both wrestlers will remain on the mat or collapse. It is odd.
Because this game wasn’t tied to a license (WWF or WCW), it had a pretty cool roster. There are twelve wrestlers in the game. Here is a list of the wrestlers in the game:
- Oga Prime
- Baron Kaiser
- Sam Warhammer
- Selvis Takito
- Ace Wagata
- Spud Marmoset
- Great Max
- Sid Bieniek
- Alpha Bozak
- Mondo Fundi
- Moe Fudo
- Ivan Destra
Each character has their own moves. It is a limited set, but having a little variety is nice. Here are the controls:
- A – Special Attack
- B — Kick
- X – Run
- Y – Punch
- A – Grapple move 1
- B – Body Slam
- Y and Left or Right – Irish Whip
- A and Left or Right – Grapple Move 3
- B and Left or Right – Grapple Move 4
- A and Down – Grapple Move 5
- B and Up – Grapple Move 2
There are a bunch of game modes to play. The matches are all basic, and there are no stipulation matches like a steel cage, triple threat, or other specialty matches. Here is a breakdown of the matches:
- Championship Tournament
Each of these matches is available in single or tag-team. You can also select if you want two or single players.
Overall, the gameplay is simple compared to modern wrestling games or games that would be released in a few years. However, it has similar gameplay to the other wrestling games on the SNES and other consoles at the time. Gameplay isn’t this game’s biggest issue.
Where do I begin with this? When the screen isn’t going crazy, the graphics are good. The game has some good ideas on how to present the match, but my god, it is a pain to watch this game.
The screen is divided into three sections. The middle section is dedicated to what is happening in the ring. The top and bottom sections are close-ups of the two wrestlers and where the moves’ cutscenes will take place. You’ll also get shots of the crowd on these screens.
When a wrestler performs a move from a lock-up, the wrestler performing the move has their section of the screen expand. So, the screen will be two-thirds cutscene and one-third ring at any given time. I hated this at first.
It took me two or three matches to adjust to this. It takes away from what is a very good game! There are other problems, but this decision comes close to sinking the game.
I was relatively close to the screen while I was playing this game. This made it easier to see what was going on, and I could see it being harder to see if I was further away from the screen. This shouldn’t have been an issue, but the decision to make the game look the way it does can create problems.
Ignoring the wacky screen stuff for a second, everything looks good. Character sprites are good, the ring looks good, and the cutscenes look excellent. I wish the cutscenes were done differently.
If there were a game that took direction from Tecmo World Wrestling, it would be this game. The two games have many similarities. They both have nice cutscenes, the animation on the moves look good, and the game looks nice. However, the decision to have the game presented in such an annoying way was a big problem for the game.
8/10. This is a good game. It controls well, and it has a unique roster of wrestlers. However, the visuals are annoying at times. This is a great game once you get used to it, but you shouldn’t have to get used to it!
- Easy to play
- Great controls
- Balanced roster of wrestlers
- No story
- Repetitive Gameplay
I liked this game more than most people. It took a while to adjust to the game’s visuals, and once I did, I found this to be a good wrestling game. HammerLock Wrestling isn’t all that different from the other wrestling games on the SNES.
The gameplay isn’t all that different from the other wrestling games on the SNES, Genesis, or NES. There are a bunch of moves that you can do, but the visual presentation makes it a little hard to follow. The way the matches are presented is the biggest knock against this game.
I had fun with this one. I like the idea of the three panels and the comic book approach to pro wrestling. This would have been a much better game if those panels were smaller and the playfield was bigger.