Retro Replay: WWF Attitude


Back in 1999, I was so deep into wrestling, and this game was released at the height of the era it is named after. I almost never bought sports games, as they usually wouldn’t hold my attention, but I craved more wrestling and several of my friends had talked the previous game up. WWF Attitude allowed me to feel like I was watching the show, but I could visit the ring whenever I wanted and more importantly, make my own legacy—so to speak. All of these things made this a game I truly enjoyed in my youth, so as Wrestlemania approaches, it’s a good time to revisit.

There is a full-motion video intro that should get anyone amped up and ready to play this title. It may not look it now, but for the time, WWF Attitude excelled at its presentation. The sound quality was nice, with superstars’ themes that would have me popping this into my system just to re-listen, even if I didn’t want to play at that moment. Character entrances were full this time around with a good bit of detail—even in the crowd—and the overall graphics were impressive. My favorite one to watch was for The Brood with its fire and creepy music. Though I played the game originally on the PlayStation version, this time around I took it to the Dreamcast, which boasted an enhanced port of the title that I have to admit looks better than I remember. It was also released for the N64, which had numerous great wrestling games, and there was even a later Game Boy Color version that I want to try now.

Return To The Basics 

There are a lot of options to play with here: many new match types, the ability to edit the ring and create a stable, manage a PPV card, or just turning on blood. There is also character creation, which for the time was flush with various customizations. Some of the new modes were simplistic variations of others, but the one that most rave about was the Career Mode, where players pick a superstar or create one to battle their way up through the ranks to win titles and create a legacy. I wish I had more time to mess around with this part; I used to spend hours on this. There were originally supposed to be a set of jobbers for the selected wrestler to tear through early on, but they were cut for some reason, leaving all of their assets available in the create-a-wrestler section.

The roster is nicely stacked already with a good range of stars from the main event to a few names only hardcore fans will remember, but there are several cool unlockable wrestlers and a few goofy ones too. These are accessible by completing different objectives, mostly in the career mode. Interestingly, though they aren’t selectable to play, the Hardy Boyz performed all of the motion capture for the wrestling moves. This is also one of the few games that Owen Hart appears in, as it came out the same year of his death and a lot of legal business would keep him from appearing in more. There was a tribute put at the beginning to dedicate the game to his memory, but that does not appear in the Dreamcast version for some reason. Hart’s death is actually what delayed the PlayStation and N64 versions from what was supposed to be a June release, most likely to get rid of his Blue Blazer persona that had been shown off in preview screenshots.

Oh The Dreamcast Days

There was a promotion for the game that offered a WWF Attitude memory card when the player pre-ordered. I want one if anybody has it by chance, but the reason most customers were interested was that it had two pre-made created characters on a save file. The first was Shadowman, a comic book character who had a game coming out that year, who had been built off of the Undertaker character in the game, and Turok the Dinosaur Hunter, who was constructed from Edge’s design. A little cheesy, but kind of cool also. Each wrestler has four selectable attires and a few also have alternate music, but none of that made it to the Dreamcast version I’m playing now.

I guess they incorrectly thought we didn’t want those. One of my favorite things is how each wrestler says little phrases when they are ready to face-off, giving them a moment to show off their catchphrase and add some character. I can’t recall many other games doing this off the top of my head, if any. This makes me question why it isn’t done in the more modern installments having voice lines from superstars at the beginning and endings of matches would be cool, but perhaps expensive. Shane McMahon and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler also have some lines, as they make up the quite serviceable commentary team for the matches.

The meat of the game, the mechanics behind the combat, is a bit lacking if I’m being polite about it. I’m confident using the term ‘combat’ there because at times this title feels more like a fighting game with how the moves work. It is better to rely heavily on strikes and beat the opponent senseless in the beginning to weaken him for other moves, and many of the commands that will feel basic are complex to pull off and may require memorization like this was Street Fighter back in the EX days. A lot of Up and Down inputs before hitting the right face button. It is easy to repeat moves unintentionally and the collision detection can be a source of comedy.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Dreamcast controller, but even past that, it certainly feels odd for this game. They aren’t responsive and at times feel like some commands get eaten or misunderstood. The game runs a bit slow in certain moments as well, but the most noticeable offense is something that plagues essentially every wrestling game ever, the look. One of the best part of the matches though has to be the results at the end that show overall damage and breaks down the percentages of each type of attack all of the participants did, which is something fun for statistic fans.

The Dreamcast version of the game is superior to the other releases in graphics and resolution, but it was the PlayStation version that critics and fans seemed to favor, looking at scores and sales numbers. It also didn’t help that Wrestlemania 2000, THQ’s first game with the WWF license, was released a few months later. There were some production problems, but also it may have been too similar to the previous title, WWF War Zone, and some think Acclaim may have given up on this one late in development. This was Acclaim’s last game with that company, but not with wrestling games, as they went on to do one mediocre and one bad game for rival ECW. No one should be shocked to learn that both companies are now out of business. I cannot say this one has aged well, or even recommend it heavily, but it was a fun nostalgic trip for me. Let’s remember when this was a ‘good’ outing in a time of truly great wrestling games.

One who writes for different places, waking up late in the day to struggle with commas, broken controllers, and nightmares of Silent Hill and Yo! Noid.