Mike Reviews WWF WrestleMania 2000
By Michael Fitzgerald on 4th October 2023
Happy Wednesday Everyone!
We continue our trip back to look at the THQ/AKI wrestling games for the N64 by looking at WrestleMania 2000. You can find other articles like this over on Gaming Respawn. This one might be a tad controversial as I might not love this one quite as much as other’s do, but I’ll do my best to explain why in the review itself.
It had to happen.
It was inevitable.
However, despite the writing being on the wall for a while, it still hurt a lot of WCW fans to see their cherished N64 gaming series gobbled up by the more popular World Wrestling Federation. WCW’s reign at the top of the wrestling business, in many people’s eyes, came to a crushing end on the 4th of January edition of Monday Nitro 1999, where Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash’s “Finger-poke of DOOM” drove people in their thousands to the warm, welcoming arms of WWF Monday Night Raw. But no, the real day WCW lost its war with Vince McMahon’s WWF was when THQ/AKI inked the deal for WrestleMania 2000.
WCW may have seen diminishing attendances at live events, falling television ratings and dwindling pay per view buys, but one arena where they were still the undisputed champion was when it came to gaming on Nintendo’s fifth gen console. By signing a lucrative deal with THQ/AKI, the WWF not only went and kicked WCW while they were down, they stomped gleefully up and down on their bollocks whilst cackling loudly.
Of the four THQ/AKI games on the N64, I’d have to say that WrestleMania 2000 is probably the one of the four that I enjoy the least, even though that’s for reasons mostly out of the THQ/AKI’s control. The gameplay is as polished as ever, with the spirit meter still in place but now changed to an “Attitude” meter to fit the WWF’s “Attitude Era”, which is a clever little difference. Wrestlers now have full entrances complete with their own unique entrance music, although due to the game being on a cartridge the audio is of a very poor quality and the songs loop after a few seconds. Listening to Big Bossman’s entrance music on this game could honestly lead one to madness as you sit waiting for a middle eight that never comes, and your brain struggles to compute why your ears aren’t hearing what they should be hearing.
Annoyances with the music aside, the game is a step up in one major way from its two predecessors in that you now have a full “Create a Wrestler” Mode that allows you to either create real wrestlers who didn’t make the game or bring life to your own crazy creations. Going back to play my version of the game brought a smile to my face as I got a chance to see some of the wrestlers I’d made during my younger days, such as a pretty decent TNA/ROH Era AJ Styles and, for some reason, Mordecai (picture The Undertaker but dressed all in white, with blonde hair and about six inches smaller), who famously debuted for a feud with Undertaker, only to last roughly a month before getting booted back to Developmental and showing up a couple of years later as Vampire Kevin Thorn. Why 2004 Mike decided to make a Mordecai CAW, I couldn’t say, maybe I was easily impressed?
There’s a decent option of clothing and items to make solid recreations of most wrestlers, and I actually spent a decent chunk of the Christmas just gone making CAW’s of Junkyard Dog and The Road Warriors for my copy of the game, but where the CAW Mode excels is when it comes to movesets. Whereas in other games with a CAW mode around this time, such as WWF War Zone, where you could only give your chosen wrestler an existing wrestler’s moveset, in WrestleMania 2000 you’re given free reign to dive into a copious list of moves to make your created grapple goon as lethal as you like. Moves range from simple things like arm drags and body slams all the way up to Triple Powerbombs and Death Valley Drivers from the top rope. With such an exhaustive buffet of punishing moves to dine on, chances are you’ll be able to create most wrestlers of the timeframe to your satisfaction. I went back to look at my Keiji Mutoh CAW and was delighted to see him have about seven different variations of the Dragon Screw alone, such is the depth of the creation tool.
Not only can you create your own wrestlers, but you can also create your own big events for them to do battle with one another in the Pay Per View Mode. You can have up to fifteen bouts on these mega shows, and this was where I spent most of my time on the game back in my younger days. There is also the option of Road to WrestleMania Mode, where you pick any wrestler in the game, assign them a tag team partner of your choosing, and then battle your way through a year of WWF matches in order to reach the titular event. Along the way you’ll occasionally get a cut scene with the wrestlers talking to one another, which wasn’t something you were getting on previous WWF games such as War Zone and Attitude, outside of an occasional quick FMV video in War Zone when it was time for a grudge match.
One good thing about the game is that some existing teams will enter the ring together provided you give them the same entrance music and video. For instance, as the game is set in mid-1999, The New Age Outlaws of Billy Gunn and Road Dogg are no longer a team, but if you change Gunn’s music and video, they will still come out together and do their team entrance. Road to WrestleMania lasts a decent amount of time, but the difficulty of the computer is amped up to near ridiculous levels at times and it can make the mode pretty frustrating, especially if you’re stupid like me and decide to have a bash at it as under card wrestler for life Dennis “Mideon” Knight. When your selected partner of Viscera is actually carrying you, you know you’ve selected a sucky wrestler.
The biggest weakness of the game is probably one you wouldn’t expect considering how the wrestling war was going at the time, but it’s the roster. As mentioned, the game is set around mid-1999, a time where WWF was doing great ratings based around its big stars of The Rock, Mankind, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. However, as good as the main event scene was during this timeframe, the middle of the card was somewhat lacking in comparison. While it’s fun to play as guys like Edge, Christian, The Hardy Boyz, and Chris Jericho, it’s considerably less fun to play as stiffs like Mideon, Viscera, Prince Albert, and Shawn Stasiak. WCW may have been getting panned in the ratings, but they still had the best mid card workers on their books at this time, meaning that outside of the big stars there are also a lot of characters that you probably aren’t going to enjoy playing as. I mean, it’s kind of hard to get excited about a match between Test and The Blue Meanie, ya know?
This might be a complaint that’s more specific to me though, as I know a lot of people are very nostalgic for this time period, so having Meat doing battle with The Godfather might just scratch that nostalgic itch and they’ll have a blast. I was already starting to get into ECW around 1999 though, so I’m not quite as nostalgic or excited by playing as those sorts of guys. Your own mileage may be considerably more though. I personally find the WCW games to have more interesting and exciting rosters in comparison to WrestleMania 2000 though, which is why I generally prefer playing World Tour and Revenge over this game.
Also, can I take this moment to give a hearty “BOO” to the Pal version of the game, which took out blood for some reason?! That’s not something that’s going to effect you lucky NTSC folk though, but it really agitated my onions at the time, especially as ramped up bloody brawling might have offset the dull roster somewhat.
That being said, WrestleMania 2000 is still a darn good game, even if it’s not my personal favourite in the series. Yes, its standard roster can be a bit bleh, and the entrance music is pretty turgid, but the creation mode offsets that considerably, and it’s still a lot of fun to put on your own Pay Per View events. If you’re a big fan of this period of the WWF, then this will be something you’ll want in your collection, but if you’re more of a casual fan at best, you’re probably best off spending your moolah on its superior sequel, which I’ll be covering next time out.
Rating: ***1/2 (add an extra 1/2* if you really love this Era of the WWF)