There’s nothing quite like the simple pleasure of watching two grown men pretend to batter one another in their underpants. We’re serious; professional wrestling is an art form – one which, at its best, is among the finest entertainments you can enjoy. It’s a spectacle the SmackDown series has done an able job of capturing, and of replicating with a sensible and satisfying control scheme.
Well, let’s forget all that, eh? Instead of pressing a button to swing a punch, in SmackDown vs Raw 2009 on the DS, we’ll have you tap the screen; and if you want to grapple, you’ll have to draw a circle; two circles for a strong grapple; and Irish whips are mapped to a swipe with the stylus. It all sounds fairly intuitive, but in no way is it more intuitive than a button press. Why didn’t developers TOSE allow for the option of switching to a classic pad-based control scheme then?
And here’s the really ridiculous part - behind the nonsensical controls, it’s a ridiculously complete SmackDown game, with literally hundreds of moves, all beautifully animated; dozens of entrance themes; six gimmick matches including Ladder, Cage, and Table bouts; and a full create-a-wrestler system with enough parts to let your creativity shine.
All those great bits, and TOSE decided to have it controlled by drawing circles and to power the fights with the AI from special school – CPU opponents so dense as to attempt a pinfall in the middle of a Cage or Ladder match, and fights which are dull and lifeless as a result of the CPU’s basic wits. How a game can come so close to being passable and be spoiled at such obvious hurdles is beyond comprehension, but sure enough, SmackDown DS sprints to victory, and smashes its shins off inches from the line.
Oct 31, 2008