Thursday, April 18

Why Are The Nintendo 64 WCW & WWE Games Still Beloved By Fans?

Pro wrestling video games – there are enough of them collecting dust on game shop shelves to fill the Titanic, and many of them would be better suited at the bottom of the ocean. However, one era of wrestling games seems to have stood the test of time.



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On November 30th, 1997, WCW vs. nWo: World Tour was released in North America. It would kick off a four-game run of smash hits developed by the fabled AKI Corporation and mark the beginning of the “Golden Era of Wrestling Games” for WCW and WWE gamers in the United States.

UPDATE: 2024/02/28 20:00 EST BY ETHAN SCHLABAUGH

Even decades after their releases and countless other professional wrestling video games being released since, the AKI/Asmik Ace series of World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation games are praised and expanded on by the fans. Ranging from the smooth and easy-to-pick-up gameplay to the attention to detail in customization and animations, these games are still popular among the wrestling fanbase, and see fans supporting them via mods and video content online. Let’s really decipher what made these games stand out among the rest and why fans still continue to play these titles.


AKI Games Were Easy To Pick Up

They Were Still A Challenge To Master

  • Wrestlers Had Expansive Movesets That Weren’t In Prior Titles.
  • The Simple Control Scheme Made The Act Of Playing Quite Easy.
  • Different Match Types Meant Learning Different Ways To Win.


It was peak Monday Night Wars when World Tour hit shelves in the United States. WWE was fresh off the tails of the Montreal Screw Job earlier that month, and WCW was about to close out a banner year by ruining the payoff to Sting vs. Hollywood Hogan. The Attitude era was on the horizon. Wrestling was booming, but gamers were starved for a quality wrestling title. World Tour allowed fans to choose from twenty-four WCW and nWo wrestlers and an additional nineteen from other worldwide promotions that were all renamed and reworked due to licensing. (World Tour was the Western counterpart to Japan’s Virtual Pro Wrestling 64.)

The thing that hooked gamers on this Nintendo 64 classic is the gameplay. Revolutionary in its depth, it was also a breeze to pick it up, learn it, and start playing. It was arcade-like, but players who took the time to learn its engine’s intricacies were rewarded. Coupled with great multiplayer options, its ease of use, and broad appeal to young people at the time made it perfect for couch co-op sessions. Though it was well received, what came next would almost make World Tour feel like a glorified tech demo in comparison.


AKI Expanded On Their Addictive Gameplay Mechanics & Features

Each New Title Brought Something Fresh To Fans

  • Every AKI Title Had Different Single & Multiplayer Modes For Fans To Enjoy.
  • Each Game Added Different Match Types, Such As Steel Cage & Ladder.
  • The Modes Would Typically Unlock New Wrestlers To Add To The Roster.

In 1998, a sequel was released, titled WCW/nWo Revenge. This version added additional wrestlers, moves, arenas, and match types. It also expanded the gameplay and perfectly captured the atmosphere of WCW in 1998. It was the same gameplay that World Tour was known for, but better. One significant addition that fans loved was the editing suite. While players couldn’t create custom superstars or make changes to moves, they could edit the attire of anyone in the game with a robust set of options.


With WCW/nWo Revenge, AKI Corporation won over gamers by building on what was already successful. For many fans of that era, Revenge is still their favorite game.

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Nintendo 64 Wrestling Games Had Some Of The Best Rosters

Featuring Faces Of Their Promotion Such As Sting & Steve Austin

  • The Rosters Were Focused On The Late 1990s Era Of WCW & WWE.
  • Names Like Steve Austin, Sting, The Rock, And Bret Hart Were Featured As Active Wrestlers.
  • Secret Characters Were Able To Be Unlocked, Such As Joe Bruiser (Muhammad Ali) & Andre The Giant.


In April 2000, AKI would release their third game with this engine, but it wouldn’t be another WCW game. Due to licensing changes, AKI would develop this game under the WWE brand (WWF at the time) and release WWF WrestleMania 2000. Sticking to the same formula as the last game, fans got the same addictive gameplay as the last two, but this time with all their favorite superstars of the Attitude era. In this iteration, AKI expanded the edit mode, allowing players to create their own custom superstars for the first time in the series. On top of that, many of the moves from their previous titles were included in the editor, making it very easy for gamers to create their favorite wrestlers from other promotions or any era in wrestling history.

AKI added even more match types, including cage matches and an expanded battle royal mode. WrestleMania 2000 also included a new story mode, allowing players to play through an entire calendar year in WWE as their favorite superstar in order to grab the gold in the main event at “The Showcase of the Immortals,” WrestleMania. Once again, AKI didn’t change what was already working and only added more of the things fans wanted. Fans now had the freedom to play as their favorites from WCW and WWE on the Nintendo 64.


The Games Are Still Played Years Later

With New Mods Coming Out Constantly

  • Fans Are Creating New Mods For All The AKI Titles.
  • WWF No Mercy Is The Most Modded With Entirely New Rosters Or Simple Texture Mods.
  • These Mods Transform The Game Into A Completely Different Title.

In what would be the final release of this beloved wrestling engine, AKI and THQ would release their swansong, a culmination of everything they had learned and implemented in the previous games. WWF No Mercy was released on the Nintendo 64 in November 2000. AKI upped the ante on this one, vastly improving the graphics and adding in more of everything the fans loved. No Mercy is regarded by most N64 fans as the greatest wrestling game of all time. The developers not only added and expanded on what they had built once again, but the inclusion of a larger scale story mode, with branching storylines and alternate endings based on the choices the player made, would be the cherry on top of the best wrestling game sundae money could buy.


WWE and WCW gamers still play these games today, and there are countless mods and hacks out there with updated rosters and arenas from different eras of WWE or completely different promotions, such as ECW or Ring of Honor.

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