NES Tag Team Wrestling Revisited!!!
Recently, I purchased a Nintendo Entertainment System modulator for Canadian Bulldog Junior, because he gets a kick out of playing ancient video games (as do I). In addition to old cartridges such as "Super Mario Brothers/Duck Hunt" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" that I've picked up on the cheap for my favorite/only son, I also found this title... one of the first wrestling video games ever created.
According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, Tag Team Wrestling was developed by Technos Japan in 1983, and was available both as an arcade game and for personal entertainment systems such as NES, Commodore 64 and IBM.
While this is largely acknowledged as the first video game to feature tag team wrestling, players weren't given a whole lot of variety to work with. You were the babyface team known as The Ricky Fighters and your duo was always in opposition to heel team The Strong Bads. No singles matches, no cage matches, nothing.
And yes.... they were the inspiration for Homestar Runner's Strong Bad character. So there.
The move set for both teams was, shall we say, extremely limited. Other than shoulder blocks, lariat clotheslines and a flying headbutt known as "F. HBAT" on the selection screen, you really don't have a lot to work with.
As I played this game recently for the first time in 20-plus years, I noticed immediately how many times my opponent pulled off the F. HBAT with relative ease. It was as though my opponent was 2003 Scott Steiner and instead of belly-to-back suplexes, the only move he gave me was the damn F. HBAT. From what we know about brain trauma, perhaps launching yourself at your opponent head first wasn't the best way to go.
You may be noticing by this point that the graphics - how do I put this mildly? - absolutely f*cking suck.
Part of the reason for this is because it was 1983, and the most complicated any programmer could make a commercially-available video game was to use the following code:
The other reason? Honestly, it was because the cartridge is probably 30 years old and wasn't properly maintained before it made it to the flea market I picked it up at. So the text wasn't coherent, various streaks of color kept popping up on the screen, and when the wrestlers ran across the green part of the mat, parts of their bodies became transparent and ceased to exist.
I'm not saying that a mint-condition cart would have made all the difference, but at least I would have been able to do some wrestling. Which I realize is a lot to ask from a video game about wrestling!
Here's a video of me attempting to make sense of the poorly-rendered bedlam:
Even the awesome post-match victory dance, where both members of The Strong Bads flail their legs to and fro, wasn't enough to change my mind about Tag Team Wrestling being one of the worst games in video game history (E.T. for Atari notwithstanding). But hey - it makes for a neat trip down memory lane... at least for three or four minutes before it became completely boring and pointless.