Big Bang Pro Wrestling – Review
Follow Genre: Wrestling game
Developer: SNK
Publisher: SNK
Platform: Switch, NeoGeo Pocket Color
Tested on: Switch

Big Bang Pro Wrestling – Review

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Good: A nearly flawless port of a feature-packed retro title
Bad: Lack of a tutorial or in-game explanations
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Once again, we’re looking at a Neo Geo Pocket Color port on the Switch, brought to you by our friends over at SNK. We assume that Big Bang Pro Wrestling, which is the title in question, will eventually end up in the as-of-yet unannounced NeoGeo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2, just like SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash. For now, however, you can pick up this wrestling game by itself. Before you do so, read on to find out if Big Bang Pro Wrestling goes over gloriously or drops like a loser.  


A story is something that is typically absent in a wrestling game, simply because the focus is purely on fighting, so we were pleasantly surprised to discover that Big Bang Pro Wrestling actually features a narrative of sort. It’s nothing too fancy, but there is a so-called IEW campaign, that sees you choose a wrestler and then take on the other fighters on the roster in order to claim the title of IEW champion. A neat little touch here is that each wrestler gets a short introduction that describes their backstory in two or three sentences. While there are no real-life wrestlers to be seen here, probably due to licensing being expensive, it’s neat to see that SNK bothered with fleshing out these characters.


We’ve taken a look at various Neo Geo Pocket titles over the years, and we’ve noticed that the visual presentation can be all over the place. Of course, part of this is because of the way the games originally looked, but we’ve seen examples where the ports were simply bad, resulting in blurry and muddy visuals. On the other side of the spectrum are ports where the visuals are crisp and look fantastic, even when blown up to the size of a TV screen. Fortunately, Big Bang Pro Wrestling falls into the latter category. While some of the actual sprite work is questionable, the transition to the Switch is flawless and the game looks great. The inclusion of Neo Geo Pocket console frames and the zoom function should be considered standard features for these ports by this point, so while it’s nice to see these visual enhancements included here, their appearance isn’t surprising.


Just like with the visuals, we’ve seen a huge difference in quality between the audio quality of these Neo Geo Pocket ports, with SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters’ Clash being a particularly egregious offender. Fortunately, Big Bang Pro Wrestling ends up on the positive side of the spectrum once again, with fantastic audio quality. Of course, what you’re getting here is music designed for a handheld from 1999, but at least it’s music designed for a handheld from 1999 in the best possible quality.


We probably don’t need to spell it out for you if you’ve read the title: Big Bang Pro Wrestling is a wrestling game. It’s a fairly straightforward title, which makes sense given that it’s a game that is over twenty years old and debuted on a very simplistic piece of handheld hardware. Despite the inherent technical limitations though, you’re getting a rather impressive package here. The roster boasts no less than ten different wrestlers, and a variety of modes, including the IEW campaign we talked about in the story section. There is more to the wrestlers than just different skins too: although their basic moves remain the same, they all have unique special moves. As for the different modes, there are customizable One Match and Tournament modes and the aforementioned IEW campaign, as well as two special modes. These are Coffin mode, where you’ll actually need to beat your opponent to his grave, and Reward mode, a ladder-style tournament inspired by the real-life WWE Money in the Bank.

We highly recommend not going in blind but taking the time to read the manual before you step into the ring. There is no in-game tutorial, and although Big Bang Pro Wrestling’s controls are limited to two buttons and a joystick, actually playing the game is a bit more complex than what you’d expect. Mindlessly button mashing won’t help you here, as you’ll need to figure out the game’s grappling system if you are to make any sort of progress in the IEW campaign mode. The secret to success lies in carefully timing your moves: you’ll need to press a button when your wrestler takes hold of your opponent’s shoulders. It can be tricky at first, but after a few tries, you should be able to hold your ground in the ring.

Of course, this port wouldn’t be complete without the new features we’ve come to know and love from previous Neo Geo Pocket re-releases. There are the visual bells and whistles we mentioned earlier, but arguably the biggest addition to Big Bang Pro Wrestling is the addition of a multiplayer mode. This was present in the original release, of course, but it required two consoles and two copies of the game. Here, however, the game offers a vertical split-screen function, so that players can take on one another on a single console, using a joy-con each. It all adds up to a feature-packed title that holds up surprisingly well by modern standards. Wrestling fans and retro game enthusiasts should have no qualms adding this title to their collection.


As is the case with all ports of this nature, you have to look at Big Bang Pro Wrestling with the right mindset. If this was a modern release, then this would have been a fairly unremarkable title, but keeping the limitations of the original in mind, this is a bit of a technical marvel. The simplistic nature of Big Bang Pro Wrestling by today’s standards makes for a refreshingly straightforward gameplay experience, with the main downside being that you’ll need to read the manual first -which isn’t all that much of a deal. Add to this that the actual port feels incredibly polished, which results in a Neo Geo Pocket title that you should definitely look into if you’re a wrestling fan.

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