I’m a huge professional wrestling fan. I’ve come and gone from wrestling over the years, but there’s been two key times of my fandom, the present time where I’ve been beyond into wrestling, not just WWE, but New Japan, Lucha Underground and the various independent promotions out there. The other time was the Attitude Era (1997-2002), where Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind and many other legendary wrestlers reigned supreme. I was so into that era, despite being a child then, certainly not old enough for some of the content that era had on various nights, but regardless, I was so into that period of wrestling, up until the present day that was the best time to be a wrestling fan.
Along with that, it was a great time to be a fan of wrestling and a gamer. There were a ton of great games out there for those who were fans of pro wrestling. But the best of them all, without a shadow of a doubt, was the Nintendo 64 classic, WWF No Mercy.
Back then when games didn’t need to be super realistic, this was arcade-like as you could get without going back to a game like WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, where it literally was made like one. WWF No Mercy wasn’t about making the most realistic representation of professional wrestling, it was about making a game that took all the wrestlers and their move sets and then build it inside a setup where it felt fluent, fast-paced and over-the-top, but not too far in any direction.
For a game on that console, there were a ton of wrestlers in the game, nearly 100 in fact. The entire current roster existed, including male and female wrestlers along with a few random unlockable characters such as legends like Andre the Giant and Jerry Lawler and then some really random ones like Howard Finkle (ring announcer) and Jim Ross (play-by-play commentator). There were so many to pick from and you could go in either the direction of a real WWF match or goofy over-the-top, having referee Earl Hebner beating the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.
What really sold me on this game though was its Championship Mode, which was like a story mode to go after the various belts. You could chase the European, Intercontinental, Tag Team, and the WWF Championship (I can’t remember if the Women’s title had a story), and it wasn’t just a simple “wrestle x-number of matches, win belt”, there was a long story with branching paths depending on if you won/lost a certain match, how fast you won the match, etc. The mode also used some classic storylines like the Mankind/Triple H feud from the 2000s and when The Rock temporarily allied with Vince McMahon.
The other significant mode was its Create-A-Wrestler mode, which while it already existed in the game before it, WWF Wrestlemania 2000, this mode was far more open, the ability to create four different outfits and creating a female wrestler, which was a pain in the ass to do in the previous game.
When it comes to pro wrestling games, WWF No Mercy is the shining star of them all. Even today, people still love playing this game the same way we love going back to Goldeneye, Super Smash Bros, Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time and many other N64 classics.
And honestly, for a game way in the past, I think it still holds up today, considering all the new games while they look so real, they play boring as all hell.
Because why have fun playing a game, right?