AGH Atari 7800 Review:

by Atari

Mat Mania Challenge
Wrestling is the coolest thing in the world. Think about it. In essence, it is just a soap opera for men. Soap operas on T.V. are all about sex, betrayal, unknown identity, hatred, revenge, and foul play. Wrestling is also about all of those things, except rather than having to stare at some skinny looking dweeb with ten thousand dollar hair, we get to watch someone get thrown off the top of a steel cage into the announcer's table. Okay, maybe not everyone agrees with me, but you'll agree on one thing: Good console wrestling games are few and far between. Maybe not for everyone, but the true wrestling fan knows what I mean. I've been watching wrestling for longer than I've been playing games, and in all of my years of playing them, only a handful of wrestling games really brought it together. Is this one of them? Let's see.

Mat Mania Challenge has the same premise of every other wrestling game. Beat a bunch of guys and become the champ. Instead of a regular type match, this one has three rounds, with the guy getting the most points at the end of the third round being declared the victor. So far, so good, right? Well, right off the bat, there's a problem. You can't pick your player. You get some generic guy and fight some other generic wrestlers. Blah. Wrestling is all about personality. The characters should all have an image of their own, else the game loses something. If you remeber pro wrestling on the NES, than you know what I mean. Starman? The Amazon? Thos guys were cool. Here, it's the guy in the blue against the guy in the red. Grrrr . . .

Mat Mania Challenge Pic 2

Wrestling games need to have control. The thing that seperates these sort of games from regular fighters is that they shouldn't be merely a button mashing contest. In a good wrestling game, you should be able to plan six or seven moves ahead. This game has a problem with that. Sure, the controls are simple, with a nice variety of moves (body slam, atomic drop, clothesline, etc), so this game had all the makings of a classic (Unlike Title Match Pro Wrestling. Ugh.), but there is one problem, which drags the game kicking and screaming down to mediocrity, where it promptly shared a table with Yoko Ono. The way the grapple system works is as follows :you put a guy in a headlock, and press a button and the joystick in a given direction to do a move. But in this game, if you are put in the headlock, pressing any button will allow you to counter and do a move of your own. The designers, in their infinite wisdom, gave no advantage whatsoever to the guy who is applying the headlock. The second you have a guy in a headlock he can hit you. You've got no time to plan moves or anything, because getting a guy in a headlock is a disadvantage. I only won by allowing the computer to get me down, and then just hitting a button and nailing them when they grabbed me. Basically the game revolves around fast button pressing, which is a shame.

Graphically the game is nice, almost on par with the NES game mentioned. The audience, ref, etc, are all there, and you can even walk outside the ring for a bit, although there isn't much point to it. Mucially okay, minor backround tunes, but at least they put some in. Not too bad.

This isn't the worst wrestling game ever, but it ain't near the best. Much better than the other one for the system, though. Lesser of two evils, I suppose.

Title Mat Mania Challenge
Publisher Atari
System Atari 7800
Graphics 7
Sound 6
Gameplay 3
Overall 4
Reviewer Matthew Lippart

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