WWF No Mercy

WWF No Mercy

released on Nov 17, 2000

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WWF No Mercy

released on Nov 17, 2000

THQ's second WWF and fifth wrestling game for the N64 will feature enhanced customization options, a whopping 80 snarling gladiators and Transfer Pak links with two GBC-only WWF games.

Associate producer Mike Sparks boasts of a "guest referee" mode, in which any wrestler can ajudicate the action or start whacking away at the rivals at any time, and a novel "Smackdown Mall." Points earned by mastering the still-unnamed GBC Paks will be needed to buy costume items, unlock wrestlers and get other goodies.

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The best wrestling game from the best period of wrestling. This was the coolest shit back then, as wrestling in general was. So good. So fun to make your own wrestlers with their own cool move sets.

Somehow, WWF No Mercy is only just beginning to show its age some two decades on. In that time, it has reigned almost unchallenged as the supreme professional wrestling video game and even now boasts features that modern releases struggle to emulate.

The in-ring action is surprisingly deep, with a number of features not even listed in the game's instruction manual. Players can often find these advanced techniques for themselves through experimentation and extended play (or, perhaps more likely these days, via the internet). The light and strong grapples and strikes are accessed intuitively by either pressing or holding their respective buttons- almost everything else is secondary, though clever mapping of the controller means you're not going to confuse yourself and wonder what button performs which action. Easy to pick up and play, deceptively deep and with lots of room to learn control mastery.

The game may have aged least well graphically. Even at the time, reviewers commented on how the playable roster didn't have any shoulder joints and some odd animations and strange choices for face images do sometimes leave characters looking a bit odd. Additionally, in spite of the relative simplicity of the models, the game will sometimes creak a little when four characters are on screen in a match, despite there being very little to suggest anything being rendered is processor-intensive. The crushed music tracks being a casualty of the N64's chosen medium doesn't help matters either, but it was impressive enough at the time.

But if you can get past those admittedly minor woes, you'll find a game teeming with content. If you want to clear every single branching Championship mode, you'll have to play dozens of times. The stories twist and turn depending on the outcomes of your matches and filling out a Championship map to 100% completion is incredibly satisfying because there's no simple option to leap back and re-select a prior chapter- you're going to have to work to get full completion and, more importantly, you're going to feel you earned it.

Clearing out the in-game shop is another challenge in itself, with some items costing so much you'll have to clear every Championship path just to afford them alone! But the Survival mode is a nifty way to rack up the dough, if you're willing to put in the time and effort. The rewards are substantial, with not only unlockable characters, arenas and weapons but hundreds of options for customisation available to you.

The customisation itself is phenomenal and, in some regards, superior to what we have in modern WWE games. Eighteen slots to create an original wrestler may not seem like a lot, but it doesn't end there. Every single character in the game is editable- while you can't change their moves and AI, you can change every aspect of their looks and profile, meaning, if you like, you can get rid of the huge late Attitude Era WWF roster the game offers and replace them with a roster entirely of your choosing! And did I mention each character slot has four attire slots, meaning you can choose to multiply that roster by four?

There is one enormous flaw in this game that I've elected not to reflect in my score but is worth mentioning. If you buy this game physically, you'll want to be sure the cartridge bears a "-1" at the end of the serial number. This is a revision to the original game which unfortunately does remove blood graphics (but not functionality, luckily) but more crucially removes a game crippling bug. The original version of the game has a bug in it that means your progress will be wiped completely at random. Just be mindful if you have a cart from the original run that you'll struggle to keep a hold of your unlocked and customised characters.

It took THQ a long time to come close to this calibre of wrestling game again and it took 2K a lot of false starts and huge missteps, and even then they still lack features of this seminal title in the genre. WWF No Mercy may not be the perfect wrestling game at the time of writing this, but it very probably was when it came out and for a long time afterwards.

Played the crap out of this game. We made so many dumb custom characters to beat up and it spawned a many inside jokes with my cousins. Fun times.

The most fun multiplayer game of the era. The best wrestling game ever made.

The best of the best. There's just something about that control scheme. They just need to port this forward, with some expansion on roster and some online features, and they oculd literally print money.