Paradox
Eidos
Wrestling
1-2
10.14.03

Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home


DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. That's the motto here, but I'd suggest giving this game a whirl. If you're a fan of wrestling, whether it be the amateur style or WWE style, we've all had wrestling matches with our friends in the backyard or the living room. Well for some of us, that wasn't enough, we had to be more extreme. We had to take it to the next level. That's where Backyard Wrestling comes in. Just everyday kids like you and me that are extremely passionate about wrestling. They organized backyard wrestling matches, created their own gimmicks, and made their own costumes. They even constuct their own rings. And when it's all said and done, they record it all for our viewing enjoyment. It gained so much popularity that they decided to make a videogame out of it.

Gameplay

For being the most important aspect of the game, it seems clear that Paradox dropped the ball in this category. To be completely honest, I believe the gameplay is more of an afterthought with this game. In fighting games, offense and defense needs to have some balance to make the fights interesting. In Backyard Wrestling, the offense aspect is clearly there, but the amount of defense involved is next to none. Which in turn creates nothing but a full blown button mashing fiesta, with no need for strategy. Even though this game involves a lot of offense, not much thought was given on this end either. Everything is about luck. I can press the same exact buttons in the same exact sequence, and I'll do two completely different moves. Also, doing the same move over and over again is a sure-fire way to easily defeat the computer.

Another complaint, the collision detection is just plain awful. You'll go to swing a lead pipe at your adversary, and they'll simply leap right through it and nail you with a drop kick. As you can imagine, this will become very frustrating in a short period of time. A lot of times you'll get knocked over near a table and fall off. But instead of actually falling off to the ground, you will magically float in the air. Bugs like this amaze me, what were the testers thinking about at the time?

By far the best part of BYW is its highly interactive backgrounds. If you see a ladder, you'll be able to climb it. A window, you can smash it. A sledgehammer, you can bash your opponent with it. Nice features like this will keep the game interesting, just not for too long.

Sound

The sounds are pretty good for the game. There is over 40 songs from artists such as ICP, Sum 41, Rancid, 40 Below Summer, and Spineshank to name a few. One good feature on the sound side of things is that BYW supports custom soundtracks. Why more games don't support this feature is beyond me. The game's original soundtrack fits the style of game perfectly so you really don't have to use the custom soundtrack feature.

While it doesn't jump out at you, the sounds effects are also pretty good. Every sound is recreated very reallistically. Whether it's a someone's body busting through a table, someone getting hit with a baseball bat, or getting burned on the grill. The voice acting during the the story mode is average. During the player introductions though, the characters will try to mutter out a few words, but you cannot understand what they are saying.

Graphics

The graphics presented in Backyard Wrestling are not bad, they're actually good. But there isn't one thing about the graphics that will jump out at you and make you say "wow!" Each and every move is animated perfectly. The game runs at an extremely smooth rate. The stages are very creatively done too. One high point is the player models. While not superbly done, the more punishment a character takes will be shown in pretty high detail. If you're on the losing side of the stick, you're character will unquestionably be beaten into a bloody pulp.

One problem with the graphics that I noticed within seconds of playing this game is the camera. Not even the camera position, it's just very unsteady. During up-close shots, the camera will jump up and down and become very shaky. Now, I'm not sure but the developers may have meant to do this. The reason for this is that regular backyard wrestling is generally filmed with little dinky handheld cameras which are extremely unsteady. Were the developers trying to recreate this effect? Possibly, but intentional or not, it's very annoying.

Replay Value

Replay value? What replay value? If you were to rent Backyard Wrestling for the weekend, you'll be done with the game by Sunday night, without a doubt. BYW has is a great concept, and had a ton of potential. Unfortunately, there isn't anything about the game that we'll make you come back for more. You have the option during the game to attempt a pin on your opponent, but this will not work unless their life meter is almost fully depleted. So you might as well just whack your opponent with a baseball bat or give him a suplex to score the knock out.

The story mode doesn't do much to help the game along. The story mode is basically you watching segments of a talk show that somehow relates to backyard wrestling. It's really boring, doesn't make any sense, and doesn't add anything whatsoever to the game. After watching a couple of minutes of the talk show, then you must compete in a series of fights on one stage. After completion, you watch some more talk show and then you're ready for the next level.

Bottom Line:

Well, this game advertises "Don't Try This At Home." And honestly, I would not advise you to try this game at home either. A weekend rental, maybe, but I would not even consider purchasing this game. I will applaud the developers for trying to do something different with the game, but they pretty much failed. This is basically a novelty game, it may be fun to pull out when you have some of your friends over just for a quick game. But not anything more than that. If you're a fan of wrestling games, chances are you won't like Backyard Wrestling. And if you're a fan of brawling games, chances are you won't like this game either. While BYW is a nice attempt at giving people something different, there isn't any substance to the game.

Related Links:

Official Backyard Wrestling Website

-Rob Matos




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