======================================================================
FIRE PROWRESTLING RETURNS: GRAPPLING AND STRIKING MECHANICS GUIDE v1.2
======================================================================
for Sony PlayStation 2 (Japan, USA)
by Bill Wood (billwood661@ca.rr.com)
Last modified: 10/17/07

Fire ProWrestling Returns (c) 2005 Spike (c) 2007 Agetec

NOTE: This guide views and prints best with a monospace typeface.
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

=====================
==TABLE OF CONTENTS==
=====================

SECTION 1: VERSION HISTORY

SECTION 2: INTRODUCTION

SECTION 3: TIP OF THE DAY #1: THE GRAPPLING SYSTEM

SECTION 4: TIP OF THE DAY #2: THE STRIKING SYSTEM

SECTION 5: CLOSING

==============================
==SECTION 1: VERSION HISTORY==
==============================

1.2 - Minor corrections and adjustments.

1.1 - Added an ASCII map detailing the three striking planes in FPR.
      Minor corrections and adjustments.

1.0 - Initial release of the guide.

===========================
==SECTION 2: INTRODUCTION==
===========================
Welcome to the Fire ProWrestling Returns Grappling and Striking Mechanics
Guide v1.2! This guide is a brief collection of my posts on the GameFAQs
FPR board outlining the basic elements of Fire Pro gameplay (originally
titled "Tips Of The Day"). Some of this material is already covered in my
FPR Beginner's Guide, but this document is aimed solely at those who (a)
have just purchased Fire Pro Returns; and (b) want to get better at it
right away. ^_^

======================================================
==SECTION 3: TIP OF THE DAY #1: THE GRAPPLING SYSTEM==
======================================================

It goes without saying that grappling is one of the essential elements of
any wrestling video game, and that the grapple system can ultimately make
or break the game. Fortunately there are no such concerns when it comes to
Fire Pro, as the grapple mechanics are about as solid as they come.

Having said that, Fire Pro's grapple system is anything but intuitive,
especially for those who have already honed their grappling skills on
other wrestling games. In fact, one of the more common complaints from
newer players is that they can't win grapples on a regular basis, or that
the mechanics seem "random," which is anything but the truth.

Below I will outline the principles of successful grappling in Fire Pro
Returns:

-----------------------
The Basics of Grappling
-----------------------
First off, let's assume we're starting with a basic Front Grapple. Other
grapples will be touched upon later.

Before we get any further, it's time to learn the "Golden Rule of Fire
Pro" -- thou shalt not button mash! Fire Pro's grappling system is a
precise TIMING-BASED system -- meaning the first player to input the
proper command at the required interval wins the grapple. And unlike other
wrestling games where you can mash away with some degree of success, in
FPR you will be punished for hammering on buttons trying to win a grapple.
Just remember, you NEED to enter a single button input at just the right
time to win a grapple, there are no exceptions. I cannot stress this
enough.

The timing is like this: when the wrestlers are within proximity, they
will automatically go into a "lock-up" animation where their arms lock up
for a grapple. Note that you DO NOT need to press a button to initiate a
grapple, it happens automatically when the wrestlers are close enough.

As soon as their arms meet, enter the command for the desired grapple
(Up + [], Down + O, etc.). Again, enter it once and ONLY once, otherwise
you will lose the grapple. If you entered your command before the opponent
entered his, you will see your wrestler execute the desired move (provided
the move isn't countered or reversed).

If you're having trouble visualizing this in your head, go to YouTube or
wherever else you can preview Fire Pro videos and study the grapples. At
its most basic (i.e. Front Grapple), you should clearly be able to see
the wrestlers perform their lock up animation.

If you're still having troubles with grappling, you can try one of two
things:

a) Set the difficulty to 1. You should have no trouble winning grapples at
this level, just wait for the lock-up animation to end and quickly input
your grapple command without button mashing.

b) Practice against a "dead" opponent. Set the other wrestler to 2P and
leave the 2P controller alone.

And remember, patience is a virtue!

--------------------------------
Transitioning From the GBA Games
--------------------------------
If you're coming over to FPR from one of the GameBoy Advance games, be
prepared for an adjustment. The grapple timing is slightly different
(perhaps due to the screen size), just enough to have to pulling your hair
out at first. But not to worry, once you become accustomed to it, the
timing should feel as natural as it did on your handheld.

Some players have suggested a speed increase of 125% to ease the
transition, so if you're having troubles getting adjusted, then by all
means try this this approach.

And if you're coming over from FPD (Dreamcast), well, you're set. ^_^

---------------------------
Countered/Reversed Grapples
---------------------------
Let's say your Fire Pro grapple timing is now impeccable. Problem is,
every move you attempt gets reversed! The problem here is that you may be
attempting your stronger moves too early in the match. You must first wear
the opponent down with weak ([] button) grapples, then work your way up to
the stronger X, O and [] + X moves. Attempting your stronger moves early
in a match almost always results in a reversal.

-------------------------
Front Grapples and Beyond
-------------------------
OK, so you've mastered the Front Grapple and are ready to move on. There
are a variety of other situations -- Back Grapple, Double-Team Grapple,
Triple-Team Grapple, Apron Grapple, Top Rope Grapple, Corner Grapple and
three MMA grapples -- where the same basic principles apply, although the
various animations require slightly different timing. In each situation,
you'll have to familiarize yourself with the animation sequence and
timing in order to be successful.

=====================================================
==SECTION 4: TIP OF THE DAY #2: THE STRIKING SYSTEM==
=====================================================

Fire Pro's striking system has gained something of a bad rap over the
years. Common complaints are that it is too awkward, too hard to measure
timing and distance. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact,
once you become acclimated, striking is the easiest (and the cheapest!)
way to dispose of even the toughest adversary.

Below I will attempt to explain what you can do to improve your basic
striking game in Fire Pro Returns:

---------------------------
The Isometric Point of View
---------------------------
Before we come to understand the Fire Pro striking game, we must first
define the playing field. Fire Pro features 2D graphics and pseudo-3D
gameplay. I say "pseudo" because it is not fully three-dimensional, but
instead an 8-way directional system. This is in direct contrast to a game
like Street Fighter, a 2D game which takes place solely on a 2D plane, or
a game such as SmackDown which is fully 3D.

It's important to understand the difference. Because Fire Pro is presented
from an isometric point-of-view, most strikes connect from a diagonal
setup position. You can also connect on a horizontal plane (ala Street
Fighter), but standing directly above or below your opponent and striking
from a north-south position will achieve nothing. The point being, you
NEED to line yourself up along one of the three valid planes -- NW-SE,
SW-NE, E-W -- to successfully connect with a strike. Throwing out random
proximity strikes will NOT work in Fire Pro, and will only serve to tire
your wrestler needlessly and leave him open to a potential counter.

In order to further understand the concept, visualize a basic octagon with
eight compass points (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW). Now draw a line from
any point to its opposite (ex: NE to SW). That is the position you're
looking for when lining up for a strike, except for the aforementioned
north-south position, which does not connect.

Below is a basic ASCII illustration outlining the striking planes in Fire
Pro, A, B, and C. Note that you can be ANYWHERE in the ring and connect
with a strike (not just in the center as shown in this illustration), but
you must be aligned along one of the valid planes.

The Three Valid Planes of Striking in Fire Pro:
----------------------------------------------

                        N
                        +
                      +   +
                    +       +
                  +           +
            NW  +               +  NE
            (A)                  (B)
           +    A              B    +
         +        A          B        +
       +            A      B            +
     +                A  B                +
  W (C) C C C C C C C C  C C C C C C C C (C) E
     +                B  A                +
       +            B      A            +
         +        B          A        +
           +    B              A    +
            (B)                  (A)
            SW  +               + SE
                  +           +
                    +       +
                      +   +
                        +
                        S

If this still sounds confusing, simply look at Fire Pro's Irish whip
system. When you Irish whip an opponent into the ropes, he is always
whipped in a diagonal direction: NW, NE, SW, or SE. (You can whip left-to-
right into the turnbuckles, but let's ignore that for now.) When your
opponent is heading back toward you on the rebound, look at the position
of the two wrestlers, it is always a diagonal setup. That is the same
setup for connecting with a basic strike.

-------------------
The Distancing Game
-------------------
Once you've come to understand Fire Pro's isometric perspective and the
rules for lining up strikes, it's time to take a look at distance and
timing. It should go without saying that different strikes have different
properties. For example, a basic kick is going to have more range than a
basic punch. However, gauging the proper distance and timing for every
strike in the game is something that can only be gained from experience.

I would recommend starting off by learning the timing of a single basic
move, then practicing that move until you can connect with it on demand.
And for that purpose, there is no better strike for my money than the
plain ole' Middle Kick. It has nice range and is fairly easy to land.
The Elbow Butt is great for this too.

----------------
Strikes to Avoid
----------------
In a word, dropkicks. Hey, everybody loves a good dropkick every now and
then (myself included), but there's no weaker way to end a match in Fire
Pro than with a missed dropkick that leaves you floored and open to a
potential submission. Not to mention they're more difficult to time than
a standard kick or punch.

Trouble is, half the FPR roster seems to have a dropkick in their arsenal.
So should you avoid them like the plague? No, it's fine to attempt the
random dropkick whenever your opponent is standing dazed or in an
otherwise compromising position. But be warned; the consequences of
throwing out errant dropkicks and landing flat on your face too many times
may cause you to lose sleep at night. ^_^

What other strikes to avoid? Well, stuff like Misawa's Rolling Elbow is
always a crapshoot, but you'll develop your own comfort zone soon enough,
knowing exactly which situation calls for which strike.

----------------------------------------
Zoning a Difficult Opponent with Strikes
----------------------------------------
Ever try outwrestling Jumbo Tsuruta with a junior on Level 10? Not so much
fun, eh? Well, one surefire way to keep Jumbo down for the count is to
chop away at him with repeated strikes. Uninspired? Probably. Cheap? Yes.
Effective? Definitely!!!

If you know your wrestler's striking arsenal inside and out, you can
simply back away from your opponent -- who will usually be looking to
close in for the grapple -- while tossing out long-range kicks. CPU-
controlled wrestlers in particular have a nasty habit of walking right
into strikes with reckless abandon. It will take some time, but after
awhile you should see them drop to the mat with every little toe kick.

----------------------------------------------
Striking and Breathing, Breathing and Striking
----------------------------------------------
All attacks in Fire Pro consume breathing energy, that is a fact (thanks
JB). But since strikes can be thrown at a much higher frequency than
grapples, it's important to stop and catch your breath every now and then.
Just remember: if you see your wrestler's shoulders slumping when he's
standing still, it's time to slow down and catch your breath.

---------------
To Sum It Up...
---------------
My basic attitude towards striking in Fire Pro is just that... basic.
First familiarize yourself with the various planes, distances and timing,
then stick to traditional punches and middle kicks to whittle away at the
opponent's health, only attempting the risky stuff when you're way ahead
of the game.

======================
==SECTION 5: CLOSING==
======================

Odds are if you've got this far, you've dedicated yourself to clearing the
"Fire Pro hurdle" and discovering what makes this series so endearing to
longtime fans. Hopefully this guide helps you in your journey to grappling
and striking success. Good luck, and have fun!

Fire ProWrestling Returns: Grappling and Striking Mechanics Guide
(c)2007 Bill Wood