Pro wrestling is already a niche fanbase full of a very diverse crowd and to cover it all would take a lot longer than you’d think to describe them all but to shorten it properly there are 2 types of fans, casual and hardcore. The reason I explain this is because Fire Pro Wrestling is for the hardcore fan such as myself. For years it has felt as though the market for pro wrestling games has been much more inclined to appease the casual market rather than listening to those who feel that the newer installments lack something or cut content for the sake of streamlining. Luckily, Fire Pro Wrestling brings out the best features it can to make this extremely enjoyable while continuously playable.
Fire Pro Wrestling was originally released on PC in Japan back in 1989 that would see a long and successful future. There would be quite a few Fire Pro Wrestling titles released between 1989 and 2012 until we would not hear from them for 6 years. Due to the insanely large boom period for independent wrestling that we currently see everywhere it was only a matter of time before we see a release of another Fire Pro Wrestling game and it could not have released at a better time.
Fire Pro Wrestling World is a top down pro wrestling title that offers solid gameplay, plenty of modes, character customization, and some enjoyable community creations as long as you’re willing to put in the time and ignore some of the obvious hiccups.
The gameplay itself is very enjoyable once you get a hang of it. The control scheme is not your typical wrestling game input, as there is a completely different command layout featuring more buttons and less shenanigans compared to WWE 2K and it’s variety of command mini games. This leaves Fire Pro Wrestling World feeling very unique while very challenging to master during your first playthrough. I often found hiccups during a few instances including tag matches, loading alternate costumes for characters, or simply visiting other menus. They weren’t game breaking but frustrating nonetheless as they are sometimes frequent.
The character creator is extremely fun and deep offering plenty of ways to change up your style and move set. Another fun addition to the game is Fire Pro Net which offers itself as a community hub for character creations. Only on Fire Pro Net would you find some of the most dedicated fans from around the world offering downloadable characters from seemingly every known time period and company.
The story for this game is very fun and gives off a bit more emotion than Baron Blade ever could. For those not aware of New Japan Pro Wrestling, it is a completely different culture compared to American companies and television programs. In Fighting Road, you start off as a customizable character going through the audition process to become a Young Lion onto becoming a Super Rookie and inevitably winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This mode features visual novel styled interactions between the characters while offering you options for dialogue here and there. I personally loved how unique it was and felt like a breath of fresh air as opposed to the berating of automatic cutscenes and meaningless challenges that offer little to zero human emotion whatsoever in other franchises.
Visually, the game is a bit hard to look at and think that it can compete in a market full of cutting edge graphics. The menus are extremely barebones with little to no background other than the logo, some chains, fire, and some smoke while the menu interface itself takes up around 1/5th of the screen. If I were to recommend anything it would be to at least use the portfolio of images of the wrestlers to take up much of the empty space such as a slideshow of wrestler images or literally anything else. That sentiment also goes with the music for the game, there is little to none unfortunately. Now, having bad music isn’t too much of a problem but the original tracks that play in the menu or the ones that are available as personal ring entrance themes offers less than minimum and comes off as cheaply made.
Fire Pro Wrestling World at its core is an extremely fun arcade style wrestling game that brings me back to the days when that was the norm and in some ways offers what newer wrestling titles lack but compared to the standard and presentation of newer titles this comes off as half made. For every genuinely fun experience comes a technical bug, strung out loading times, or poor presentation that really made me wonder if spending all that time mastering the button layout was worth it. I would definitely recommend this to any hardcore wrestling fan that would love to try out a genuinely unique experience.