Natsume Championship Wrestling (NCW) is the game I was most looking forward to when I started playing the SNES wrestling games. It looks good, but I didn’t enjoy playing it. The controls took a long time to get used to.
The game has a big roster, but those wrestlers don’t feel special. The roster feels like you’re playing a better version of WCW SuperBrawl as the wrestlers seem more reality-based. I wish there was an over-the-top wrestler or two on the roster or if the wrestlers had some personality.
I was expecting more from this game. It has a steep learning curve, and the control scheme takes a long time to get used to. There are many great things in the game, but I didn’t enjoy the game as much as HammerLock Wrestling and Saturday Night Slam Masters.
TLDR: NCW is a great-looking game with a Steep Learning Curve.
There is no story. The manual doesn’t explain why this wrestling organization was founded, who the good and bad guys are, or anything like that. I wasn’t expecting a story, but it would’ve been nice if there was something.
However, you can craft a story through the game modes. That is very fun, and it seems to have been the idea behind many of these games. If you’re a little creative, you could do this, which I think my friends and I would’ve done back in the day.
There are a lot of good things in NCW. This is closer to a Fire Pro Wrestling game on the SNES. However, I wouldn’t say I like the controls that much.
I should’ve looked up the controls before playing this. I was getting my butt kicked on my first playthrough. Even after looking up the controls, I found doing any of the moves difficult. I got lucky a few times, but I prefer HammerLock Wrestling and Saturday Night Slam Masters.
This is a timing-based wrestling game. It is similar to Fire Pro Wrestling in that regard. I found it painfully difficult to get the timing right on the lockups. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong.
At first, I thought the difficulty was too high. Unfortunately, I was playing on Easy. I’m awful at this game.
The controls are a little confusing with this game. You can do more moves than licensed games; each character has a unique move set. Here is a list of the basic controls:
- X is Dash
- Y is Punch
- B is Kick
- A is the Hold/Action button. This button is used for just about everything
- L is your Pin and Tag button
Those are the basic controls. Each of the four face buttons (X, Y, A, B) does a move out of a lockup. Y, B, and A are your Weak, Medium, and Heavy attacks out of a lockup or grapple. The X button lets you throw your opponent into the ropes.
The A button is also used to climb the turnbuckle, getting back in the ring, ground attacks, and pushing your opponent. You can also do a body slam by pressing the A button while facing your opponent.
There is more to the control scheme than just the basics. Each character has a different control scheme that requires the manual to perform. While this makes the character feel different, the game is hard without the manual. Even with it, the moves can be hard to pull off.
It is cool that each character has a deep move set, but it is very complex for an SNES game. In many ways, these controls are closer to the PS1 games by requiring the player to press the L and R buttons in addition to the face buttons.
I don’t like the controls in this game. It wasn’t as easy to control as other games. I prefer the controls in HammerLock Wrestling to this game.
There are five game modes in NCW. This gives you quite a bit to do in the game. Here is a list of them:
- Championship Tournament
- Championship Tag Match
- Round Robin
- Round Robin Tag Match
- Exhibition Match – Two-player only
The game has twelve wrestlers in it. NCW doesn’t have a license from WCW, WWF, or one of the Japanese promotions, so it has a list of unique characters who may or may not be inspired by professional wrestlers. Here is the game’s roster:
- M. Roach
- H. Snake
- The Viper
- Big Ape
- J. Kraze
- K. Bruto
NCW has preset tag teams. This is interesting because it is the first game that I’ve seen it in. You can edit the teams, which is nice. This is a very cool addition, and it can help craft a story for tag matches.
I didn’t notice finishing moves in the game. When I looked through the manual, I didn’t see any either. You just beat your opponent enough to pin or submit them. You can win by countout, but I didn’t see that happen in the game.
Overall, I didn’t enjoy the gameplay that much. It isn’t terrible, but there is a learning curve that can be frustrating to new players. It has a big roster several game modes, and each wrestler has a bunch of moves. The timing system feels off to me. It took me a long time to figure out how the controls work, and the manual wasn’t all that helpful.
The graphics are good. NCW is a more detailed version of HammerLock Wrestling without the upper and lower third cutscenes. It has a great presentation of the matches as well.
The character sprites look okay. They’re well-detailed, and each character looks different, but the game doesn’t look as good as the WWF games. NCW looks more cartoonish than those games, but it is an art style that works well for this game.
NCW looks like it was going for a more realistic presentation of pro wrestling. This makes the game feel a bit like WCW SuperBrawl. I would’ve liked to have some over-the-top wrestlers in the game, but that wasn’t what the developers were going for.
The animations can be a problem at times. You need to time your button presses to the animations (i.e., Pressing the X, Y, A, or B button before a grapple or lock-up), which felt random at best. When I could perform a move, it felt like a mistake rather than me doing something correctly.
The ring, audience, and referee all look great. It is cool to see all of this, and adds a lot to the game. This is the game that gets things right from a graphical standpoint.
Overall, the graphics are good. For a mid-90s release, I was expecting more, but it looks good. One of the big problems is the animations. You need to rely on the graphics to time your moves correctly, which takes a lot of time to adjust.
8/10. This isn’t the best wrestling game on the SNES. It has good graphics, but the controls and difficulty are a big problem for me. There is a lot to like here, and if I spent more time with the game or if I had a few friends to play with, I would probably have a different opinion. I liked both HammerLock Wrestling and Saturday Night Slam Masters more than NCW.
- Great Graphics
- Big Roster
- Steep Learning Curve
- Very Difficult
- Controls Feel Unresponsive
I didn’t enjoy this game. The game has many good things, but I think the learning curve is too steep for new players. The control scheme is overly complex for an SNES game, and the game is punishingly difficult. If you don’t have the manual, you will have a terrible time.
There is no way to check the controls in the game. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but in NCW, the controls are much more complex than in the other SNES games.
It is a good-looking game. NCW’s visuals are better than the other games on the SNES. There are also a good number of game modes to play. The only thing I have a problem with is the gameplay. If you could take the control scheme from HammerLock Wrestling and the graphics from NCW, I think that would be a great game.
This was a frustrating game to play. I liked so many things about it, but the gameplay wasn’t one of them. NCW was a game that I wanted to like, but I didn’t have fun. It is still better than the WCW and WWF games, but not as good as HammerLock Wrestling or Saturday Night Slam Masters.