Sony

Fire Pro Wrestling World (PS4)

An interactive pantomime of a real world pantomime, Fire Pro Wrestling miniaturizes the sport, down to its movement essentials. In an era of polygons, Fire Pro retains sprites, choppily animated, but with heightened impact. There’s a speed and a grace to Fire Pro, even without the pop of fireworks, lightshows, or entrance music. This is all in-ring, where it counts, with a stable, accepted timing-based contact system that like the sprites, remains a genre standard.

This series refuses to evolve; it doesn’t need to either. While the mega-budgeted WWE games flop around with convoluted meters and counters, Fire Pro does its thing. Often, that’s magic. A wonky story mode threads through the New Japan federation, which like the sprites exists entirely in throwback form. A slew of digitized images lead through a narrative that never really decides if the in-ring action is “real” or not.

That’s no damage to Fire Pro’s allure. In-ring brawling replicates harrowing power bombs, top rope flips, and clothelines with the rapidity of an action movie. Film editors frequently cut frames to enhance speed; with the sprites, Fire Pro does the same. The effect still works, generations later, and as such, this remains the best example of pro wrestling in videogames.

4/5

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