Another year has passed and yet another Wrestlemania has ended.

To celebrate Wrestlemania’s 25th anniversary this year, THQ have released an homage to the legendary names of yesteryear who helped make the event the spectacular drawcard it is today. Legends of Wrestlemania takes the superstars of the 80’s and 90’s and lets you throw yourself in the middle of their most famous Wrestlemania matches.

A cursory glance at the roster of Superstars available brings back a lot of fond memories; Andre The Giant, Ultimate Warrior, Jake The Snake, Ravishing Rick Rude - the list is impressive. Even the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker are all still main event wrestlers.

But, if you were an avid watcher of wrestling during the '80s and '90s like myself then there’s one huge name which is conspicuous by its absence; The Macho Man Randy Savage. I’m not sure why he would be omitted as World Wrestling Entertainment would no doubt own his character and likeness. Anyway, for whatever reason, it’s a shame we don’t get to hear his trademark “OOOOO YEEEEAH!”

THQ’s main wrestling franchise Smackdown vs Raw is widely accepted as the only game worth playing when it comes to wrestling simulations. So much so that only Midway dares to release any competition these days – and look where it’s gotten them. Let’s not go there. Smackdown vs Raw 2009 is easily the best we are going to get on the current generation of hardware, so THQ have taken a step back with Legends of Wrestlemania and simplified things, perhaps with younger gamers in mind, but I personally think they've targeted the 30-something occasional gamers who will see all these huge names from their younger years and be keen to dive in.

The game is controlled by the D-Pad or right stick and the four face buttons only. It works on a grapple-based fighting system which sees buttons allocated on screen. Press the correct button before your opponent does and you’ll deliver a specific move, a few more times and you will progress to a second level of moves and then a third after which your combo meter will be full allowing you to perform finishing moves. If your opponent begins to chain together moves then this can be broken by beating him to the correct button first. Each player has five different taunts which help to increase your stats throughout a match.

The usual game modes are all present here, including the Create-a-Legend mode as seen in the Smackdown series. But perhaps the best is called Wrestlemania Tour, which sees you recreating classic matches from throughout the years which are introduced by the actual WWE footage of the event. Wrestlemania Tour has three gameplay options:

[*]Relive – In this you can play as the wrestler who won the classic match over a set opponent.[/*]

[*]Rewrite – which has you playing as the loser of a specific match in an attempt to rewrite history. In this mode you get to view the history between the two wrestlers and recap their Wrestlemania match. You will also need to achieve certain objectives as well as win the match itself.[/*]
[*]Redefine – Here you can chose any classic match and any wrestler, then change the match type completely.[/*]

The available match types are Single, Tag Team, Triple Threat, Steel Cage, Ladder, Submission, Iron Man, Handicap, Hell in a Cell, and Royal Rumble.

One more game mode is Legend Killer, in which there are six tiers. Four of these have ten Legends waiting to challenge you and the other two have all the Legends plus all the Superstars from Smackdown vs Raw 2009 (they are able to be imported from the SvR 09 game itself).

While the gameplay itself may have been “dumbed down” to cater for a broader market, the graphics most certainly haven’t. You can expect to see the same polished character models and fluid movement featured in Smackdown.

While Legends of Wrestlemania may be a pleasant skip down memory lane for some, fans of its market-dominating bigger sibling will not be impressed or bothered with the simplified control method. And as for attracting new fans into the genre, I just cant see many making the transition from what is essentially an arcade fighter to a simulation. Legends has it’s place, it’s nostalgic, solid fun, attractive to look at and doesn’t suffer from the targeting and collision problems that many before it have. Yet it strikes me as more of a weekend rental than one you’ll want to revisit again and again.

It’s a game you’ll pick up once a year for a bit of a giggle and then put it back for another twelve months. OOOOO YEEEEAH!


Check the next page for a full list of wrestlers featured in Legends of Wrestlemania.

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