Eighteen years ago, Earth was blessed with one of the finest wrestling and multiplayer games ever crafted. No hyperbole here, WCW’s first game for the Nintendo 64 was pure 4-player bliss that could be enjoyed by anyone with a pulse — even those oddball non-wrestling fanatics that apparently existed in 1997.
I picked up WCW vs nWo: World Tour on a complete whim at Blockbuster Video along with Wheel of Fortune as I was desperately looking for ANYTHING that I could play with my friends over that weekend. I had played the previous WCW games and watched some rented WCW PPV tapes, but I had no real knowledge of what was happening in World Championship Wrestling around 1997. The N64 game quickly brought me up to speed as I was surprised to see how Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Sting, Ric Flair and the Steiner Brothers were all in the game. These were the guys I recognized, these were the characters that stood out the most to me (even though Sting was now emulating The Crow).
Even though the game immediately hooked me and I spent three days straight with my friends unlocking everyone, I never got the HOLY SHIT I NEED TO WATCH WRESTLING MORE bug from it. It wasn’t until months later when I just happened to catch Scott Hall doing his usual promo on WCW Thunder when it all clicked together for me. It wasn’t until that moment before I realized that Hall in the video game was actually the same guy that was Razor Ramon from WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game. Kevin Nash and Syxx?? They were both Diesel and 123-Kid from WWF RAW for the SNES! This revelation blew my mind as I instantaneously understood how WCW was a giant conglomeration of the best guys from the older WCW I remembered with the WWF wrestlers I’d come to know through playing their games.
Mindfuck, right? Well, it was all because of WCW vs nWo: World Tour that I even became an obsessive weekly fan of World Championship Wrestling. I wanted to learn more about the other people in the game that I had never heard of before. Who was Rey Mysterio, Jr.? Why is there a Sting and a “Sting”?? Was Eric Bischoff as badass in the ring as he was in the game?!?
For real, Bischoff’s karate moves made him my favorite guy to play as well before I discovered the awesomeness that was Glacier.
Even though it wasn’t known to me at the time, all of the fictional wrestlers included in the game to help pad out the roster were all based on Japanese wrestlers and legends. The name Hayabusa meant absolutely zilch to me in 1997 but Hannibal? He was the skinny acrobatic guy with the cool mask! I didn’t know who Manami Toyota or Taka Michinoku were, but Black Widow and Black Belt were unstoppable when paired together. Then, there was Saladin AKA Abdullah the Butcher:
Fantastic title and the beginning of the THQ/AKI legacy of incredible wrestling games for the Nintendo 64. Based on the reaction I got over on Twitter regarding today’s anniversary, it’s easy to say that it still hold a special place in the minds of a certain generation of wrestling fans. For those of us who were first introduced (or just re-introduced) to World Championship Wrestling though this game, for those of us who had late-night gaming parties with this title, the stories are all seemingly very similar. We all have an love for WCW vs nWo: World Tour that still holds true today. We all have a friend or group of friends that will forever be connected to the game in our memories due to the awesome four controller ports that were included on every Nintendo 64.
There’s a reason Johnny Ballpark gave it a 4.5 in Fun Factor in GamePro magazine:
Just toooo sweeeet!