‘Fire Pro Wrestling World’ Review

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Now that our novel ‘Edgar’s Worst Sunday’ is on it’s way to market, there’s only one sensible move to make. Official endorsements! Yup, that’s right—we’re selling out!

Well, we’re trying at any rate, but the offers are few and far between. So, this one’s a freebie.

Fire Pro Wrestling is a weird sort of series—easily cast aside for flashier, ‘official’ franchises by an undiscerning eye. For the most part, it’s based on Japanese wrestling companies (this new edition scored an official association with NJPW), or completely fictional characters. Furthermore, it’s a 2D game which looks like a very slightly updated version of the WrestleFest arcade game.

Beneath this surface simplicity however, there is a depth to Fire Pro that only a fanatical wrestling fan could ever begin to appreciate. For starters, it’s creative, or ‘edit’ mode is robust enough to allow every last wrestler one could ever dream of being in the game to be created to excellent likeness, with perfect move sets, and logic which ensures that when the CPU controls the character, they play and act just like their real-life counterparts.

The result is that with Fire Pro, you can have any sort of wrestling game you want—or all of them. The roster is limited only by your memory space and imagination, allowing for 1000s of unique wresters divided up into all the various leagues, federation, divisions, and categories you can hope for. Rings can be created as well, and with the increasing accessibility of the online community’s support, building these dream rosters has never been easier.

Fire Pro Wrestling World isn’t perfect, and the User Interface could certainly use a lot of work. Occasionally, it will force you to scroll through your list of wrestlers with no ability to sort them—just hundreds rolling by in one big list. It’s frustrating to say the least, and this is not the only such example of poor user design.

Nonetheless, this iteration of the long-loved franchise is likely to be the best and longest supported we’ll ever see. While this is particularly true of the PC version, which features a host of user-built mods to solve the problems Spike-Chunsoft cannot, my preference has always been console, and that’s where I’ll enjoy it for now.

While the PS4 community is growing slowly, and may never match that of the PC crowd, I’ve had little trouble finding very fine versions of most every wrestler, boxer, or UFC fighter I’ve wanted, and am left with little room for complaint.

In the end, Fire Pro Wrestling will remain a niche title. Not everyone will get past the dated look. The gameplay—which requires a greater sense of timing, skill, and knowledge of how to ‘work’ a wrestling match—can be a challenge to newcomers, but remains rewarding to vets who understand that wrestling matches are not just fights. This is the kind of wrestling game that includes a button to let your opponent pull off a move in order to get a better match going. I suspect it’s the only one of that kind.

Niche title though it may be, that niche is strong. It’s a game made by passionate people, and it inspires a passionate following. While other companies focus on picture-perfect graphics and flashy modes, with iterations every year trading one feature for another without ever really providing what the consumer wants, Fire Pro goes a different route. Fire Pro is about fun and creativity. It’s closer to a Lego set than a DVD. It lets you enjoy it in your own way, and find whatever you love about wrestling within its endless possibilities. Many people actually prefer ‘simming’—watching an entirely CPU controlled match—even more than they play.

I guess this isn’t really a review after all. Not in the traditional sense at any rate. It’s really more of a love letter. Fire Pro is an amazing series, and Fire Pro Wrestling World—despite it’s flaws—may be the crown jewel of that franchise. It is more accessible, has a better online community, and to put it simply, it’s endless fun.

Go buy it.

-Brad OH Inc.

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What Does America Have in Common with the WWE?

purelyspeculationOn March 23rd, 2001, the former World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) accomplished one of it’s greatest ambitions. It bought out its main competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

This was probably the greatest mistake they ever made.

With no significant competition left, the WWE lost any impetus to improve its product. With no legitimate runner-up, they were left to rest on their laurels rather than fighting to be the best. The quality of the product quickly diminished as the company focussed on preventing any upstart organizations from gaining traction, rather than working to continually improve their own product.

The company’s new focus soon became buying out other organizations and swallowing up emerging talent without any plans to utilize them effectively. They would eviscerate the potential competitors, without ever building on their own brand.

As a result, the WWE never again reached the same level of success or quality they had achieved during their long battle for ratings with the WCW, famously known as the ‘Monday Night Wars’.

In a lot of ways, this is eerily similar to the slow degradation of America after becoming the world’s leading superpower at the end of World War 2.

The following decades saw the nation engaging in a ‘Cold War’ with the Soviet Union—a long and precipitous crusade to invade and exploit weaker nations and spread ‘American Influence’, all while keeping the scary Communists away from valuable resources.

The entirety of the Cold War was—if one removes themselves from the wanton death and destruction—almost a comical mirror of the theatrical pantomimes so common in the wrestling world. It was the classic scenario of two main-eventers competing to see who could intimidate the other more. As the classic scene goes, the two big guys take turns landing finishing moves on hapless jobbers, staring nails through their true opponent without ever directly confronting them. The lower card workers are decimated, and the main eventers perceive their reputation to be bolstered by the damage done.

During this period of macho-posturing and international abuse, America was far more focussed on keeping other nations down than they were on improving themselves.  Military expenditures exploded, and infrastructure crumbled. This trend has continued into the present day, and America now is known more for its foreign meddling and military misuses than it is for the great beacon of freedom it still half-heartedly claims to be.

No longer were the old values of social-cohesion, public growth, quality education and accessible opportunity the hallmarks of American society—all were swept away under an authoritarian wave of bomb building and resource chasing.

Becoming a Superpower caused a huge shift in national identity. With it, America moved from the nation of freedom and growth to a nation of maintenance and control. The American Dream was accomplished, and the rot of its underlying idealism begun. Being a Superpower is among the worst and most damaging things to happen to America—and the resulting decay of values, social responsibility, and cultural identity is apt testament to that.

In the end, the downfall of the WWE and that of the United States both serve to teach us the same crucial lesson.

There is a very significant moral difference between competing to be on top by seeking to be the best, and defending your place at the top by actively damaging those below you.

If we focus on keeping others down rather than enriching ourselves, everyone loses, and in the end, someone is bound to topple the lame-duck façade your once proud empire has become—whether from outside, or from within.

-Brad OH Inc.