Fire Pro Wrestling is one of the longest-running wrestling game franchises in history by Human Entertainment (defunct today). The franchise began back in 1989 with "Fire Pro Wrestling: Combination Tag." Many titles would come along to help grow and expand the FPR franchise. In what was considered the last hurrah for most gamers, "Super Fire Pro Wrestling X" for the Super Famicom (because it was never released to the United States) was one of the finest in the FPR series. Throughout the life of the franchise, FPR games have almost always been 2D and purely timing-based rather than being a button masher. In what was considered to be a true blessing for fans of the Fire Pro Wrestling franchise, Spike (not the male-oriented TV channel) released Fire Pro Wrestling in 2007 for the PlayStation 2. I was intrigued to go get this game when I once saw it at a store and saw some YouTube videos to go with it. I reviewed FPR in a YouTube video once. I never did a proper review of it in my blog... until now! This is my blog post discussing my thoughts on "Fire Pro Wrestling Returns."
FUN FACT:Ever wonder why Fire Pro Wrestling Returns is abbreviated as FPR and now FPWR? In Japan, "Pro Wrestling" is one word. Also, the Japanese term for pro wrestling is "puroresu."
LATEST UPDATE(S)/REVISION(S):FEB 19 2012 - updated blog post for the majority
--- Fire Pro Wrestling Returns ---The game was released in 2007 for the PlayStation 2 and only the PS2. Here is a look at the box:
^ from: amazon.com - Fire Pro Wrestling Returns is more like a "Thank You!" for fans of the FPW franchise.
I know the first thing you're thinking of- I already play the SmackDown! wrestling games. Why should I even care about "Fire Pro Wrestling Returns?" Well, let's face it- FPW has been around since 1989 while the SmackDown! games started back in 1998. Also, the Fire Pro Wrestling games are much deeper than almost any SmackDown! game.
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns is a mostly 2D wrestling game offering MANY ways to customize the game. You have 300+ wrestlers across MANY promotions. All of the wrestlers and all of the promotions are based on real-life wrestlers. Obviously, to avoid copyright infringement, the characters are all with fictional names. For example, Yuji Sakata of the VIEW JAPAN promotion in FPR is Yuji Nagata of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Andy Spirals of the AWG promotion in FPR is TNA Wrestler "The Phenomenal" A.J. Styles. You can even make your own rings, referees, title belts, and more. There is so much customization to make your head spin!
Its popularity in making and creating many things has led to its own community online where people share their creations. Many people look online for renaming lists to properly re-name all the wrestlers to their real names.
FPR: Wrestling Types.Unlike in the SmackDown! games, you can make great wrestlers and great FIGHTERS as well. I mostly made fighters in the SmackDown! games. In other words, my "wrestlers" were mostly specialized in fighting moves rather than pure wrestling. I felt this to be a great disconnect in the SmackDown games. But in FPR, I can compete with and win with a fighting-type character.
There are a host of different match types that include both wrestling and fighting. There is even a dedicated octagon if you fancy mixed-martial arts.
FPR: Wrestling and Promotions.There are many different promotions featuring many different styles of action. You have your usual pro wrestlers, but there are many other kinds of characters to choose from. You have a host of luchadore wrestlers that excite with their high-flying moves and quick pace wrestling. You have your American-style pro wrestlers. You have a bunch of fighters (including boxers) and mixed martial artists. And if you want to wrestle with females, there is an all-women's promotion for you.
You can pit any wrestler against any other wrestler. With enough damage, all characters will bleed (yes... even women can get bloodied in this game). The wrestlers themselves have a very intricate system. The game actually senses damage to parts of the body quite well for a sprite-based game. You can properly attack points like the legs, the arms, the body, and the head. You have to apply enough force to be able to win matches. Actually wrestling/fighting against an enemy relies on dealing as much damage as possible. Victory is in no way impossible in this game. Even wrestlers that are supposed to be sorry to use can still be capable of taking down more potent opposition.
This is one of the most detailed sprite-based games of any kind. You swear all the characters were built on just one set of sprites. However, you'd be wrong. Each character is actually built on a set of individual body parts for sprites. These sprites can be layered and colored on for even more customization. What you're getting is one of the most incredible and most in-depth customizable games of any kind. However, there is a downside to this 2D approach. You are unable to create characters that wear skirts, capes, or anything like that.
Creating move sets for wrestlers is also intricate. Rather than reserve one move as a finisher, you have Critical moves. A Critical move is not so much a finishing technique, but a move that can take out most opposition upon its usage. Proper customization of a wrestler can yield to better opportunities for taking out wrestlers. Unlike in SmackDown! games, you have three different styles of attacks- weak attacks (Square button), medium attacks (X button), and strong attacks. Walk up to your opponent to quickly initiate a grapple. It is best early on to go with your weaker attacks and grapples first. REMEMBER- no button-mashing! You can initiate whatever grapples you want to use if you get the upper hand in a grapple battle. Go for stronger grapples and attacks once you think you've worn down your opponent enough. I have made more tips and tricks available for wrestling in an old blog post called "Fire Pro Wrestling Returns Tips".
FPR: Getting Started.Select a Game Mode when starting out. Here are your options:
• Exhibition - set up a quick match against any number of opposition.
• Tournament - set up a tournament of up to 64(?) different wrestlers.
• League - you will battle against every wrestler. Victory earns you points. The wrestler in the league who scores the most points wins.
• Team Battle - make up a team and have that team compete against others.
• Battle Royal - last wrestler standing wins!
• Title Match - qualifying wrestlers can compete for a championship.
You then go into setting up match types. You can choose venue, ring, and certain rules. Referees can also be chosen. Depending on characteristics of each referee, some make fast counts, some aren't very strong, and things like that. Only four venues will allow you to have entrance themes (if you've enabled entrances): Spike Dome, No. 1 Ring, West Dome, and USA Dome.
All you need to do now is select wrestlers and get the match underway!
FPR: Match Types.Here are some of the many match types you can choose from:
• Exhibition - a straight wrestling match. You can add more characters to set up one-on-one matches, tag matches, or even handicap tag matches.
• Cage - climb and escape the cage to win.
• Barbed Wire Deathmatch - the ring ropes are replaced with barbed wire. Run into the ropes, and prepare to lose a little skin. Also, it's possible for an explosion to occur. If enabled,
• Landmine Deathmatch - if thrown to the outside and if you land on different patches, explosions will go off as you hit the landmines. Serious damage is dealt.
• SWA Rules - this mode is more suited towards fighters than wrestlers. This is where kickboxers and such compete under kickboxing rules.
• S-1 Rules - no grapples are allowed. It is only a single match.
• Gruesome Fighting - enjoy mixed martial arts in an octagon. Almost anything goes in this fighter-friendly environment. Victory is either by knockout or submission.
I don't have enough experience with Team Matches to talk about them, so I'll move on.
Battle Royal is a free-for-all melee. The last wrestler standing wins in most cases. You can set up a Normal Battle Royal, where everyone goes until they are all defeated. First Win awards victory to the one who scores pinfall or submission before anyone else. This is great for Triple Threat and Fatal 4 Way matches. Eliminated wrestlers under Endless rules keep fighting even after elimination. I don't recommend using this mode. Finally, Over-Rope means you are eliminated once you go over the top rope.
I've done Match Maker before, but I don't know how to explain it to you best in my blog post. And this mode has NOTHING to do with match-making! In this mode, you are a promoter trying to go from small-time promotions to making matches for major promotions. Sadly... you are unable to use any created/edited wrestlers unless you find a creative way to tie them into this mode.
--- Fire Pro Wrestling Returns Review ---It is not a SmackDown! game. I mean that in positive and negative ways. This game does and executes everything a true wrestling game should do. FPW games are pure wrestling games rather than button-mashing wrestling. It may not seem fun if you don't fancy methodical wrestling, but the feel of the game overall is much better than any SmackDown! game. The customization element is deep and addictive. You should have no reason to feel bored or unable to create anything special. Even with 2D wrestlers, the game still feels very complete with its wrestling mechanics. Don't let the fact that it is a 2D game in a 3D environment be a deterrent.
On the other hand, it's not a SmackDown! game. The sprite-based mechanics allow you only so much customization. Also, I wish each promotion had individual titles rather than one overall championship. It just seems convoluted to have so many promotions and only so few championship belts. Some people would even complain of not being able to have title belts actually worn by the title holders. And when you see the introductions, everything is WEAK. The wrestlers just perform one action on stage and walk down to the ring. Nothing exciting or flamboyant like in a pro wrestling introduction. You also can't do any Falls Count Anywhere action. Maybe just personal preference, but I wished that I could make more beautiful female wrestlers rather than the very brawny feminine wrestlers. Another disappointment- you have up to four different outfits for characters that come with the game. But when you create your own wrestler (even based on an existing wrestler), you have only ONE outfit for that character. Vastly disappointing.
This game does just about all things a SmackDown! series game does, if not better than what most SmackDown! games deliver. Don't let the fact that its lack of licensed wrestlers and such take your interest away from this game. This game is at least worth a rental. You may probably find this game at a used game store. If you see it and are unsure as to whether to buy it or not, my suggestion: BUY IT! It is a modern culmination of what all has made the Fire Pro Wrestling series so enjoyable and entertaining since 1989.
By the way... it also would have been cool if it had characters from a little-known arcade game called "Blazing Tornado." The characters from Blazing Tornado were featured in "Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium" under the Heroic Wrestling Federation (HWF). While the characters may not be in the game, some of their moves from these characters can be selected. Blazing Tornado is this incredible, spinning, brainbuster vertical suplex. It's very cool!
--- Video Preview of Fire Pro Wrestling Returns ---This video is a preview for Fire Pro Wrestling Returns. This is a trailer for FPR:
And that's your preview of this game. Convinced? If you want to see more videos of Fire Pro Wrestling on YouTube, here is a YouTube search for "Fire Pro Wrestling."
I may start offering YouTube search result data in addition to any video previews if it helps my readers get a better idea for subject matter in my blog posts.
If you need any advice or want to see any of my other blog posts involving the Fire Pro Wrestling series, please search my Fire Pro Wresling blog label. Buy this game on Amazon right here:
A loyal reader has lent his own blog featuring various edits to make characters in FPR. If you fancy some wrestler edits, please visit "Deranged-Stu's Fire Pro Edits" here on Blogspot. One last piece of advice... visit Fireproclub.com for all of your Fire Pro Wrestling needs. Thank you for reading!
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