Hey guys, big news for all Fire Pro fans out there! Fire Pro Wrestling World was just announced for Steam and PS4. Best of all, the Steam page lists both Japanese and English for the interface and audio. Which almost assures a North American release for the game, and hopefully Europe and Australia for the Fire Pro fans in those regions. There isn’t much news about the game yet, but there is an English trailer for the game which I will add below.
To celebrate the occasion, I thought I would do a special Ramblings column looking at the Fire Pro Wrestling series, or at least the entries I’ve played. Let’s go!
I’m a fan of Fire Pro, but I haven’t played every single entry in the series. This is because only three have ever made it stateside. The rest of the series has been Japan-only. But there are ways of playing games made for older systems no matter the region. You just need a guide to help you translate if you don’t know Japanese. That is the biggest barrier, but luckily it isn’t an insurmountable one.
The earliest game in the series that I played was Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium. Kind of a long name, but a pretty good game. It came out for the Super Famicom (SNES) in 1996. If you’ve played any of the more recent Fire Pro games and then went to SFPWXP, you’d find that the series really hasn’t changed a whole lot. If you dive into the legal gray area known as emulation, you’ll find that there is a fan-made translation patch that, once applied, replaces all Japanese text in the game with the English counterpart. Very handy stuff.
The main difference between SFPWXP and the more recent games in the series is that, when you do a move close to the ropes, you clip right through the ropes, and if your wrestler ends up on the apron or outside the ring, you’ll fall to the ringside floor. It looks kind of weird to give a guy a vertical suplex or a running powerslam through the ropes and to the floor, but it’s also kind of neat. In subsequent Fire Pro games, the ropes sort of move you away from them as you do the move.
Almost all Fire Pro games use sprite graphics. This makes the games age well, for the most part. The basic gameplay is simple, and yet it takes time to get used to. Button mashing will not do you any favors. It’s all timing-based. At least for performing moves. You move close to an opponent, and you automatically grapple. Then you have to time your button press as close to the moment you fully lock up as possible. If you hit the button(s) before your opponent, but after the lock up is complete, you do your move. Timing is everything.
There are three attack buttons: Weak, Medium, and Strong. In some situations, like grappling, holding different directions while pressing each button (or no direction at all) will perform different moves. Kind of like other wrestling games, but again, all timing-based. Stamina is a thing, as well. Your wrestler can lose his breath, and you need to hold a button to take a breather. So it’s got a bit of depth to it, too.
Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium is kind of your basic Fire Pro game. No death matches, no MMA-style matches, just your standard wrestling. Which isn’t bad. It’s still a really good entry to the series.
The next one is Fire Pro Wrestling G for the Sony PlayStation, released in 1999. It introduced “Gruesome Fighting” (MMA-style fights) and death matches. Both FPWG and SFPWXP have a max of four wrestlers at a time. Though I think the PlayStation probably could have handled more. There is only one death match available, and that’s an electrified cage with an explosion timer. What that means is if you’re whipped into the cage, your wrestler is hit with an electric shock and falls to the mat. When the explosion timer goes off, well, explosives placed around the ring explode, and cause damage to everyone, including the ref.
FPWG was a big improvement over the Super Famicom version. I highly recommend you try it out.
Fire Pro Wrestling D was released for the Dreamcast in 2001. I can’t really play this one anymore, because of the lack of Dreamcast emulators for Linux. I often cry on the inside because of this. FPWD is a really great Fire Pro game. Six characters on screen at once, which is great. It has a second death match mode, which features barbed wire ropes and fluorescent light tubes tied to cardboard. Fun stuff. There’s also an SWA Official Rules match, and I forget the exact rules this operates under. The translation guide says Battlearts-style rules, but I don’t know what those are, either.
All in all, Fire Pro Wrestling D is fantastic. I just wish I could play it more.
The next three were the only ones released in the US. Fire Pro Wrestling (Fire Pro Wrestling A in Japan) for the Game Boy Advance came out in 2001. Due to the decrease in buttons, the Strong attacks were performed by pressing A and B at the same time. Otherwise, it’s the same standard FPW you’re used to, just with a smaller screen, and only four wrestlers at once. This was the first FPW game I ever played. I read some hype about it online and in magazines, that it was this awesome wrestling game series with a big cult following outside of Japan, but that it had never come out in the US. So I was intrigued. Suffice to say, I got hooked.
Fire Pro Wrestling 2 (Final Fire Pro Wrestling: Yume no Dantai Unei! in Japan) came out for the Game Boy Advance in 2002. Not much different from the first GBA version, though.
Fire Pro Wrestling Returns came out for the PlayStation 2 in 2005 (Japan) and 2007 (NA). It’s a fantastic game. Absolutely brilliant. Up to eight wrestlers at once, more match types, more options, it’s just incredible. It’s the only console Fire Pro game released in English, up until now. Fire Pro Wrestling World will hopefully change that. But I digress.
FPWR is just great on all accounts. I had a ton of fun downloading game saves off of Fire Pro Club, an online fan-club community for Fire Pro Wrestling, and transferring them to my PS3. I filled my game with fan-made edits of real-life wrestlers, logos, rings, etc. The edit mode in the game is just incredible. It really helps enhance the experience. It’s a lot of the same Fire Pro you’ve come to love, but presented in a great package.
So where do we go from here? Well, Fire Pro Wrestling World promises online connectivity, which hopefully includes being able to share your Edit mode creations. Hopefully all the Edit mode functions from the PS2 version come along, as well. I look forward to more match types, maybe more wrestlers on screen at once, and so on. Who knows?
I hope we get more details for the game soon. According to Polygon, the game comes out on Steam Early Access in the second quarter of this year. No official release date has been given for the PS4 version, but the developers have said it will be on Steam Early Access for “a few months.”
That will do it for me this time. I hope you enjoyed reading my take on Fire Pro Wrestling. I can’t wait for FPWW. You can find me on Twitter at @geekdombrandon. See you all next time!