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Rings of Saturn Issue #18: “WWF in Your House” in ONE, TWO, HE GOT HIM! ER, NO, NO, HE DIDN’T

Longevity.

I’m always wary of people who put a lot of importance on it when it comes to video games. I certainly wouldn’t discount it in any fashion when it comes down to a discussion about a game’s merits, but I also wouldn’t rate it as the most important factor either.

If you were to ask me what the length of a game should be, my answer would be that a game should be as long as it needs to be. Some games, such as the suitably epic Final Fantasy VII are long because they have a big story to tell and need that time to tell it appropriately. Meanwhile, other games such as Virtua Cop are much shorter because they are intended as fast paced thrill rides, where the game’s “worth” comes from exciting action as opposed to a strong narrative.

To decide how good a game is based merely on minutes and seconds almost misses the point, I feel. It’s like when some people were going spare at the idea that you could possibly finish No Man’s Sky in a mere 30 hours. Such people never took a moment to consider that maybe 30 hours was the perfect length for the game. Personally, if I got 30 hours out of a £40 game, then I’d probably feel like I’d gotten my 8 Bison Dollars’ worth, especially as I don’t really have time to sink long hours into games anymore due to other commitments (such as writing that last sentence).

So, when I read/hear that a reviewer’s opening gambit is “such and such a game only has about 40 hours worth of gameplay”, I immediately start to worry that it’s going to be one of those reviews. However, I can understand the argument for putting an emphasis on game length, especially when it comes to arcade ports. WWF in Your House to my knowledge didn’t have a run in arcades, but it was essentially a sequel to WrestleMania: The Arcade Game and operates very much in a similar fashion. It lacks the punch, both figuratively and in actuality, that was found in WrestleMania, but the overall gameplay experience is similar in a lot of ways.

IYH 1

WWF In Your House, named as such after the (then) WWF’s monthly two hour “Pay Per View” offerings, operates more as a fighting game as opposed to a wrestling simulation. All ten of the game’s selectable “Superstars” fight less like their real life grappling selves and much more like overpowered Mortal Kombat style brawlers, even down to each of them basically having a “fatality” move in the form of a vaunted “Super Pin™”.

For example, the muscular and quite frankly terrifying Ahmed Johnson will smash you into easily digestible chunks with his bare hands, whereas the famed Ultimate Warrior will frazzle you to bits by shooting electricity out of his hands. Sadly, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine doesn’t rescue you by grabbing The Warrior by his wrestling tights and chucking him off a bridge into the bowels of a gigantic space station. More’s the pity.

The most humorous of these Super Pins™ must surely be that of “The Man They Call” Vader, whose arse inflates to an abnormal size before he leaps into the air and smooshes you to nothingness from a great height. One thinks that maybe this move was intended for everyone’s favourite faux Japanese Samoan Sumo Star Yokozuna (RIP to Mr. Fuji by the way. A real legend of the grapple game who will be missed), but due to him leaving the WWF down to most athletic commissions refusing to clear him to wrestle due to weighing an almost legit 600 pounds at one point, they decided to give the move to the other resident big bloke on the company’s books at the time.

IYH 3

The Super Pins™ are the icing on top of a very wacky cake. Most of the wrestlers’ real moves are present and correct in the game, but they also have a collection of ludicrous special moves that can also be used. For example, The Undertaker’s feared “Tombstone Piledriver” is in the game (although he leaps nearly 10 feet in the air to deliver it), but he will also hit his opponents with an actual headstone at a mere moment’s notice. Bret “The Hitman” Hart’s bone crunching “Sharpshooter” leg lock can be applied onto withering foes, as in real life, but Bret can also fire pink lasers at his opponents too, which I can only suggest is down to the Hart Family Dungeon being built on top of a nuclear waste dump.

The game plays like a frantic arcade brawler, with MK style button combinations for the moves you want to pull off. Game modes are limited with little more than just different versions of “beat everyone in succession”, although there is an option for up to four friends to fight each other at once. The game is fun to play, but there’s not much to make you come back after you’ve completed it a few times outside of seeing every wrestler’s unique FMV ending. These videos aren’t especially long, but it’s nice that they are included as you at least get some form of reward for battling your way to the game’s conclusion.

Power-ups will appear during the match, some which will help you and others that will hinder you, but there’s an option to turn these off should you wish to. You can also do the same with regards to blocking. In two player mode, you can play a Royal Rumble style survival game where you and a friend have to fend off all of the game’s Superstars in the same match. This can be a lot of fun, but again there’s not much to make you keep coming back.

IYH 4

The graphics are MK-style digitised sprites and look decent enough for the timeframe, but the WrestleMania sprites were definitely bigger and more detailed. WWF in Your House just feels “flatter” than its predecessor and definitely lacks a bit of the polish that made the first game so enjoyable, even though I wouldn’t go so far as to describe WWF in Your House as actively bad.

As much as I’m usually against the argument, I certainly couldn’t begrudge someone who used longevity as a reason to talk this particular game down. It’s enjoyable enough to play and captures the overall oeuvre of the WWF New Generation era, but it lacks a compelling reason to keep you coming back for more.

The New Generation Era is often regarded as one of the WWF/E’s weakest periods, even if men like Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog, the Hart Brothers, The Undertaker, Mankind, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were having great matches with each other. The product felt flat and dated, whereas the rival WCW company’s product felt much edgier and exciting. In WCW, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were storming the ring with baseball bats like a legit street gang, while in the WWF Vince McMahon was dancing with Shawn Michaels, whose street cred as “smiling babyface #27” was at an all-time low.

IYH 5

This translated into the video game output of both companies as well. Whereas the WWF was producing zany arcade fighters like WWF in Your House, WCW was releasing games like WCW/nWO: World Tour and Revenge which were top-notch wrestling simulators that paved the way for one of the genre’s best ever efforts in the form of WWF: No Mercy.

You may very well enjoy playing this game, but it doesn’t come cheap and most likely you’ll have to either get the Japanese or NTSC version of it, because PAL versions are rarer than a good Goldust match in 1996. I’d weigh up whether a few hours of fun is worth the hoops you’ll have to jump through to play the game.

As always, I’ll post some game footage below.

I’ve been giving thought to alternating Retro articles with Fitzgerald Scale articles and doing a different one each week. We’ll trial that for a few weeks and see where we are at the end of it. So, next week instead of another Retro piece, I’ll be doing a Fitzgerald Scale one instead, so keep an eye out for it!

Thanks for reading

Until next time;

Come On You Blues!!!

You can view footage of the game, courtesy of YouTuber Gaming Palooza, by clicking right HERE

Looking for other great content here on the site? Well, why not take a goosey gander at the following?

We’ve started to review movies here on GR, and you can read Alec’s review of the new Jason Bourne film by clicking right HERE

If you fancy some good old fashioned game reviewin’, you can read Daire’s review of Hue by clicking right HERE

And you can read Chris’ superlative interview with Scott Almes by clicking right HERE

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