It’s strange that I’m not really sure how to start this article, considering that if you added up all the minutes I’d spent playing video games over the past 20+ years, this particular game would feature most prominently.
Not only am I a hardened video game enthusiast, but I’m also a huge wrestling fan, so it only begs to reason that I’d sink a lot of my time into the wrestling game that I truly believe is as close to perfect as could be. Noted, I said “close to perfect”, because as good as WWF No Mercy undoubtedly is, it’s not a straight up 100% game. It’s certainly the highest level of 95% though, with only slight, minor niggles standing between it and all conquering perfection.
. . . . . ..
In fact, let’s get the faults out of the way from the off, and then we can get on to the good stuff. The minor faults with this game are as follows
- The poor music quality from WWF WrestleMania 2000 remains, with most tracks looping after a certain point, sometimes verging on the horrifying as Taka Michinoku’s theme deftly displays. Seriously, it sounds like someone is trying to exhume evil spirits.
- The wrestlers don’t have full entrances, instead walking out to the stage before the camera cuts away.
- You can edit the appearances of wrestlers in the game, but you can’t edit their movesets, which means you could go to the trouble of updating your roster by giving wrestlers’ classy new threads, but they’ll still wrestle as their 2000 Attitude Era selves, which kind of defeats the purpose. For example, you can give Christian his new modern short hair look, but he’ll still come out with Edge and do his E & C Era taunts, which will look pretty out of place.
- Wrestlers don’t wear belts but instead carry them on their shoulders. Minor gripe and a bit of a nit-pick but still something that has bugged me all these years later.
- Occasionally in multi-person matches there can be some serious slowdown if everyone spills outside the ring to battle. Frustrating though this is, it’s sadly something that plagues quite a few wrestling games, even the current WWE 2K17, which aside from being a mess of glitches is also prone to some slowdown on occasion.
- And the big one is that some versions of this game have been known to wipe all progress out of the blue. All your progression, all your unlocked characters, and all your created wrestlers could go in a metaphoric puff of smoke without a moment’s notice. I still live in fear every time I boot No Mercy up that everything will be wiped and I’ll be forced to start from scratch all over again. Definitely a big issue. These days you could patch that out, but this was the fifth generation and you just had to cross your fingers that you didn’t get a faulty cartridge. It’s something often overlooked when it comes to this game, but it was a very real problem that haunts the memories of those unlucky enough to fall victim to it.
But those flaws aside, I’d still happily give this game a 95% and declare it one of the very best games of all-time. It’s so thoroughly playable, so unbelievably polished, and one of the best games ever at recreating the actual flow of a wrestling match. Alongside the Fire Pro Wrestling series of games, I can’t really think of any other games that are able to so perfectly nail the simulation of a professional wrestling match and recreate it in a video game setting.
As readers of my retrospective on the THQ/AKI wrestling games will no doubt be familiar with, the game retains the “Attitude Meter” seen in WrestleMania 2000, so bouts still build gradually, although on Very Easy Mode you can usually dive right in with big moves should you so desire. However, on the higher difficulty levels, the CPU can be downright vicious when it comes to having counters to your attacks, so tread with caution.
Players in the PAL region will find that the game now includes blood again, as well as a host of new weapons such as a barbed wire baseball bat and a giant size copy of Mick Foley’s autobiography upon which you can swing at your opponent’s noggin to your complete content. Another nice new touch is that weapons now remain if you put them down, which means you can deliver punishing suplexes and piledrivers onto ring steps, chairs, and ladders.
Oh yes, ladders, did I mention that this game has Ladder Matches in it? Because this game has chuffing ladder matches in it! Not only that but it’s still one of the best recreations of a ladder bout that I’ve ever played. On Smackdown 2 for the PlayStation, if you chose a ladder match the ladder itself would just be dropped randomly around ringside, and you could potentially win the bout in seconds due to your wrestlers springing up and down the ladder like flying squirrels.
In No Mercy the ladder match mirrors real life much more closely, with the ladder being set up in the aisle way, meaning you actually have to lift a finger to go out and grab it. On top of that climbing the ladder takes time, and you then have to take part in a button bashing mini game before you can grab your prize, meaning that you best make sure your opponent is well and truly out of the picture before you attempt to climb the ladder to victory.
Whereas hitting your opponent with the ladder in Smackdown 2 didn’t feel like it had any weight to it due to the general flimsy feeling of the ladder itself, the ladder in No Mercy has real weight to it, so the attacks actually feel like they have something behind them. Also, the ladder makes a satisfying crunching noise when you either hit your opponent with it or drop them hard on the evil climbing device with an offensive move. Or indeed when you put them through the announce table with a big splash or elbow drop from the ladder’s zenith.
Oh yes, tables, did I mention that this game has tables in it? Because this game has chuffing tables in it! Yes, this is now commonplace in modern wrestling games, but back when No Mercy came out, being able to drag your opponent onto the announce table and splat them through it with a Rock Bottom or Pedigree manoeuvre was still a new and exciting thing to do, and it’s still satisfying even to this day. You can either drop your opponent through the table at ringside or drag them backstage where you can even slam them through a pool table in a nearby bar should you desire.
Oh yes, pool tables, did I mention this game has pool tables in it? Because this game has chuffing pool tables in it, and you can put opponents straight through them in hilarious fashion! While backstage brawling was nothing new by this stage, No Mercy certainly gave a strong account of itself with numerous areas to fight in, each different in their own way with their own unique areas of danger and weaponry.
Heavy work was also done to the story mode, with you now selecting which of the seven WWF Title Belts you want to challenge for before beginning a story mode with branching story paths that depend on how you do in each chapter.
Oh yes, branching story paths, did I mention that…oh you get the point by now!
You also have an option to choose to be the Champion and defend your precious Title over the course of the story mode, so there’s oodles of longevity in the single campaign, plus the multiplayer is as entertaining as always. And that’s before we get to the creation suite which is even better than before, and you’ll be spending hours tweaking your created guys ‘n’ gals’ ring attire and movesets. No wonder I’m still playing this game 16 years later!
I don’t know what else I can tell you about WWF No Mercy.
It’s the Boss, it’s the VIP, it’s the Championship!
Go out and buy it right now. If you haven’t got an N64, buy that too! Buy everything! Go and buy literally everything! Go now!
WHY IN THE LOVE OF FUCK ARE YOU STILL HERE?!?!?!?!?! GO AND BUY WWF NO MERCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry about that, got a little carried away there. Thank you for joining me in this journey of the THQ/AKI wrestling games. I’m not sure what to move onto next, but rest assured I’ll have something for you. Something platformy maybe, or shooty, or maybe platformy shooty, I’ve not nailed it down yet. Still, keep an eye out, you magnificent beasts!
As always, I’ll post some footage below.
Thanks for reading
Until Next Time;
Come On You Blues!!!
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