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WCW vs nWo: World Tour is a professional wrestling video game released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64 game console. Released at the peak of World Championship Wrestling's dominance in the Monday Night Wars, World Tour was THQ's first foray into the N64 wrestling scene and is a semi sequel to the lesser known WCW vs. The World for the PlayStation. It is considered the American counterpart to Japan's Virtual Pro Wrestling 64 and is the second best-selling wrestling game for the N64 console.
Asmik Ace Entertainment and AKI approached the title by producing a wrestling game similar to Puroresu and fighting games. The resulting game was well received for its tight construction and ease of play, especially compared to Acclaim's comparatively more difficult and convoluted game, WWF War Zone. In fact, the playing style of World Tour, namely its revolutionary "grappling system," set a standard for pro wrestling video games to be expanded in future THQ titles for many years following.
World Tour served as a strong foundation for future THQ wrestling games. Its sequel, WCW/nWo Revenge, would built upon the engine tremendously by introducing ring entrances, improved graphics, more arenas, more signature moves, actual WCW championships, attire modification, and other improvements.
World Tour introduced Asmik/AKI's critically acclaimed grappling system, in which all moves are started by holds. Choosing to either tap or hold the A button will subsequently produce either "weak" or "strong" results once the move is performed, while a similar system is used for strikes. Wrestlers can also perform their signature taunts to help elevate their Spirit gauge and perform "Special" front and rear finishing moves when their gauge peaks.
In addition to single, tag team, handicap, and battle royal, match modes not seen in future releases include a WCW versus nWo tournament, round-robin tournament, and league tournaments more familiar to Japanese wrestling. Unlike today's wrestling games, World Tour features no create-a-wrestler mode, story mode, or ring entrances and has a limited amount of actual WCW wrestlers. It also makes no reference to championship belts and, upon the successful completion of a tournament, shows an illustration of a fist raising a gold trophy. A championship belt creation feature was touted prior to the game's release, but this was ultimately scrapped.
Other features were apparently carried over from the style of the game's Japanese counterpart. This includes the enabling of bleeding despite the practice being forbidden on WCW television due to its more family-friendly presentation. Foreign objects can be retrieved from the audience and used outside the ring. Weapons include a steel chair, half a wooden folding table, a black baseball bat, and a barbed wire bat, the latter not being characteristic of WCW programming but rather Japanese hardcore wrestling.
In addition to WCW and nWo leagues, Asmik Ace and THQ included fictional wrestling promotions Dead or Alive Wrestling, a reference to Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, and Independent Union, a reference to International Wrestling Grand Prix. These factions consist of several "fictional" characters who are actually Japanese wrestlers that appeared in that country's version of the game, Virtual Pro Wrestling 64. They appear in the American version with names changed due to copyright laws. These Japanese wrestlers include, among others FMW stars such as Hayabusa, who was renamed "Hannibal," and Atsushi Onita, who was renamed "Puchtecha," as well as future WWF stars such as Taka Michinoku, who goes by the moniker of "Black Belt." These characters were also given extravagant profiles in the game's official strategy guide; Abdullah the Butcher, renamed "Saladin," is described as a former Afghan Secret service operative who refused orders to assassinate Mikhail Gorbachev.
WCW vs. nWo: World Tour proved to be one of THQ's biggest hits and was awarded the title of "Fighting Game of the Year" by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. It gained Player's Choice status with over a million copies sold and its 1998 re-release was instrumental in THQ's 59% revenue increase in the year's third quarter. World Tour eventually sold 1.3 million copies in the US, making it the second best-selling wrestling game for the N64 and ranking it amongst the console's all-time best selling titles.
The game received generally positive reviews. Praise was given particularly to the simple yet comprehensive gameplay approach and variety of fun multiplayer modes; IGN's Matt Casamassina went as far as to state, "If you even moderately enjoy wrestling but love multiplayer gaming, we don't see how you could go wrong with this game." Its 3D polygonal engine, character animation, and dynamic camera movements were also considered refreshing to a genre that had not experienced such modern innovations.
In IGN's 2008 "History of Wrestling Games" article, Rus McLaughlin reflected, "World Tour was just as revolutionary as the nWo storyline it borrowed, with all moves built off holds instead of happening out of nowhere. . . Suddenly, wrestling was all about the grapple again, and players loved it."
|World Championship Wrestling video games|
|WCW Wrestling • The Main Event • SuperBrawl Wrestling • WCW vs. the World • Nitro • WCW vs. nWo: World Tour • Thunder • Revenge • Mayhem • Backstage Assault|