Luke Jaconetti
United States
Simpsonville
South Carolina
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To say that I have been a life long professional wrestling fan is pretty close to accurate, as the first PPV I watched was Wrestlemania 2 when I was 5 years old. So growing up, and even today, wrestling is a part of my life. My brother, my friend Bob (now a retired pro wrestler) and myself discovered ECW in 1995, when it was airing on MSG Network (I think) on our local cable provider in Westchester and Putnam counties in NY. From there on until the doors closed in 2001, we were all dedicated disciples of the hardcore. We frequented live events within our driving range (including multiple shows at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, Danbury, CT, and the Fright Fight in Stamford, CT on Halloween night in 1997. So as an ECW fan, and a Game Boy enthusiast, when ECW Hardcore Revolution was announced, I was definitely interested in adding it to my collection. But, for one reason or another, I never came across it, so as the GBC moved on, I gave up on ever finding it. And then, by chance, I happened to find it at a used book store for $4, and I couldn't resist. I had to buy it. So, will this game be Hardcore Heaven, or by playing it am I just Living Dangerously?

ECW Hardcore Revolution was released by Acclaim and developed by Crawfish and is a GBC-only cartridge. The presentation is straightforward, with a simple title screen and text menus. The only options you can set are the time limit, difficulty, and toggling the music and sound effects. There are several game modes, which will be familiar to anyone who played earlier Acclaim WWF portable games:

--Challenge - Pick your wrestler, and fight your way through the roster in a gauntlet. You start the next bout with the life you finished the previous one with, so it behooves you to win quickly.

--Career - Climb the rankings and win the ECW World Championship. As you win matches, you can use a password to save your progress.

--Vs - A one-off, one-on-one fight.

--Barb Wire Match - The ring ropes are replaced with barb wire! Any time you whip your opponent into the ropes, they will take damage from the steel babrs. Ouch! (The game is rated E, though, so don't expect any blood.)

--Training Mode - As the name implies, a training match, where you can set the AI level of your opponent and practice you moves.

The controls are pretty standard for the era -- A and B punch and kick normally, then you can grapple with A. Once grappled, you input a combination of a direction and a button press to perform a move. When the opponent is on the mat, you can go for a pin or stomp on his face. From the top rope, you can launch either a leg drop or an elbow drop. If you manage to grapple with your foe from behind, you can throw a back suplex (back drop if you follow Japanese wrestling) or an atomic drop. Because this is ECW, sometimes weapons such as trash can lids, ring stools, and nightsticks will sometimes appear in the ring (as well as outside of the ring), which can be picked up and swung or thrown. You have a life meter which will slowly replenish, as well as a power meter, which will fill up as you hit moves on your opponent -- fill the meter and you can throw your finisher. All pretty standard moves for the era.

The roster is a little thin at 10 wrestlers, but it's a good representation of the company at the time: Mike Awesome, Raven, Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, Rob Van Dam, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Jerry Lynn, Lance Storm, Justin Credible, and Balls Mahoney. Each one uses the same moveset except for their finisher. All of the finishers are performed by doing a front grapple and then hitting A+B, except for Van Dam, who does his Five Star Frog Splash by hitting A+B on the top rope.

Overall, the game is a below average effort. The engine, which Acclaim recycled from earlier WWF games, is decent. It plays fairly close to THQ/Natsume's GBC Wrestlemania 2000. Before Fire Pro Wrestling A came over to the West, this was what you expected from a portable wrestling title. The roster, as I said, is slim, but I am happy with the choices. The graphics are basic but still good. Every wrestler is easily identifiable, and the digitized headshots are a nice touch. The use of weapons is also appropriate, albeit it's a fairly minor aspect of the game.

But the whole thing seems like a little more time and effort might have helped the finished product. For one -- there's no tag team option in any mode, which seems like a pretty basic feature of a wrestling game. The Barb Wire Match is just a swap out for the Cage Match, but without escaping the cage as a way to win. And the game's E rating means no blood, which could have been as simple as a little blood splatter when being hit with a weapon or the barb wire. So while it's a fun enough game, and the sheer novelty of it being an ECW video game is a big plus for me, I don't see this game as having the replayability of a game like Wrestlemania 2000, which had a lot more depth of features.

Still, was it worth the money I paid for it? Absolutely it was! Playing this game brought me back in time not only as a wrestling fan but also as a video gamer, playing my Game Boy Color (Atomic Purple) while in college. I have since upgraded to a GBA and then a GBA SP, but I still bust out my GBX and GBC games when I want something retro. And ECW Hardcore Revolution can very much be enjoyed on a retro level, but only if you are, or were, an ECW fan in the first place.
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