Title :The Simpsons Wrestling
Platforms :Sony PlayStation (PSOne)
Publisher :Activision
ESRB Rating :Teen
Game Rating :2.0
Review by :Larry Tipton

When I first heard that FOX and Activision had teamed up to create a wrestling game based on The Simpsons franchise, I was excited about the prospect, yet somewhat skeptical. Could such a game be created that would encompass a terrific wrestling engine while keeping the characters true to their TV persona? Well, if this title is any indication, the answer is a resounding "NO." 

What happened on the way to commercialization is a mystery. The game has some of the right ingredients to ensure success. The Simpsons Wrestling features nineteen characters from the show, with eight playable from the onset. The matches take place at various locations around Springfield, USA. The actual voice actors were used from the TV show to give the game an authentic sound. The characters have their own signature moves. But somehow the resulting implementation is a complete and utter disappointment. 

Big Ape failed to deliver a workable fighting engine. Standard wrestling moves lack any finesse, with rope moves that are too easy to perform and grapples and throws that are nearly non-existent. The computer AI is atrocious. I found that sometimes a character would just stand at a distance and constantly execute the same move over and over, doing no damage to your character. Such behavior is inexcusable. 

Controlling your wrestler can be frustrating. You will no doubt find yourself mashing the buttons in frustration due to the sluggish response. Adding to the confusion is the strange power up system implemented in the game. Picking up "exclamation marks" will allow you to build a taunt gauge. Executing a taunt maneuver will make your opponent dizzy for a few seconds. There is also an energy which reflects how easily you can be pinned, and which can be depleted by performing certain exhausting moves. 

The Simpsons Wrestling includes several modes of play. Circuit, Practice and Vs. Match. Circuit mode is composed of three increasingly difficult modes. There are plenty of tunable options, but none will save this total waste of game playing time. 

Graphically, one would think that the simplistic cartoon style seen on the show could easily be implemented on the PSOne. Big Ape, the developer behind this awful game, made a huge mistake by not utilizing a classic 2D sprite based engine like those seen in the highly popular Fire Pro wrestling games. Instead, they opted for weak, pseudo-3D polygon characters. The player animation is horrible. The fighting locations are poorly implemented with little to no animation effects. You'll see recognizable characters around the ring, but they lack depth and perspective.  

Other than the introductory music, none of the game's tunes are recognizable. This is a crime considering the many songs that have been created for the series. I should know — I own two Simpsons music CDs! The character voices are well done, which is the only positive thing that I can say about the game. 

The Simpsons Wrestling is perhaps one of the worst video games to appear on the Sony PSOne to date. It is definitely the worst wrestling game to appear on the platform. The game really has relatively nothing to do with wrestling. Sure, two characters fight it out in the ring but you'll not see much of anything that resembles wrestling in any way, shape or form. Maybe, that's why Activision exclaims "This isn't wrestling, this is Simpsons Wrestling!" 

I cannot in good conscious recommend The Simpsons Wrestling to anyone but the diehard Simpsons collectibles fan. 

This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 30-Apr-01