Someone’s been saying their prayers and eating their vitamins. After a diva-thin offering in 2008, Wii owners might be justified in wondering what features have been cut from their version this year – but the answer is this: not much at all. The Road to WrestleMania storylines, the hot tag feature, the career modes, the create-a-wrestler/entrance/tournament options, ladder and cage matches, online play – all present and correct. With the notable exception of the inferno match and the create-a-finisher mode, Yukes has managed to cram the whole caboodle in. No small feat.
In fact, SmackDown on Wii contains plenty of action you won’t find anywhere else. Interactive Entrances allow you to build momentum before the match by mimicking the gestures of trademark poses en route to the ring. Cage matches require you to ‘climb’ out of the steely confines by making the corresponding movements with your hands, and you have to physically tug the belt from its holder during ladder matches.
It’s not accurate to say that it’s just SmackDown with some bits missing and others added on, however. The damage meters have been replaced with a standard energy meter, which transforms the formula into a more straightforward brawler. Despite the threefold increase in wrestling moves, it remains far easier for beginners to pick up than other versions – we’ve managed to get casual players who wouldn’t touch the 360/PS3 versions with a pool skimmer waggling themselves into a frenzy on Wii. The motion controls have been implemented thoughtfully and as a whole work really well, although the B button is used to both guard and unleash strong grapple attacks in conjunction with the remote, which can often give matches a hesitant feel as players find themselves moving in for the kill and pulling off a stationary block maneuver instead.
The simplified mechanics mean that SmackDown on Wii doesn’t quite have the same appeal to hardcore fans as its high-def cousins – but it has an accessible charm that’s quite its own, and is more than a suitable replacement for long-term players looking to try something a little different. The Wii version really shakes things up.
Oct 31, 2008