Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: July 17, 2002
The world is waiting for their wrestling game: Robotic gameplay, confusing controls, and disappointing graphics have been the norm since the genre’s inception. We’re now in a world of 128-bit game systems, yet recent offerings have still failed to impress. The technology is there, the content is there (wrestling is an activity ready-made for video gaming), but where’s the execution? The time has come to take a close look at this latest GameCube release, THQ’s Wrestlemania X8. It has one incredible claim to fame: it’s the first title to combine the rosters of both the WWE and the defunct WCW. Finally, Hollywood Hogan can go up against Steve Austin and the Rock. For wrestling fans, this is a dream come true, but THQ still has to shake the curse of every wrestling game that has gone before.
Pro wrestling is known for its dramatic, ongoing soap operatic story lines, along with the feats of acrobatic athleticism that keeps the fans glued to their TV sets. Wrestlemania X8, however, has no story mode or career mode. There are no rivalries, conspiracies, or double crosses; it’s just pure ladder climbing, as you might find in any fighting game. Though X8 lacks a story mode, it tries to compensate with other forms of variety.
First of all, there are over forty wrestlers to choose from. This is easily one of the most comprehensive rosters in a modern wrestlefest, and the combination of the WWE and WCW gladiators will make fans drool. Though this crossover will persist in future wrestling games, for now this is the only place where you’ll find all of these stars: each sporting two genuine outfits, all of their signature moves, and dead-on flamboyant arena entrances.
If you’d like to see your own creations take to the squared circle, THQ has also provided an extremely deep create-a-wrestler mode. Every punch, kick, and grapple can be customized. While you can’t exactly create your own moves, all the tricks from every wrestler are available here, so with a little mix-and match, you can concoct a unique fighting style. Entrances are also customizable; they are broken up into three fragments so you can paste together your favorite showboat sequences with any of the existing music and Titantron tracks. Oh, and before I forget, you can naturally alter your wrestler’s appearance. The depth of freedom you’re given here is excellent; every proportion from jawbone to shoe size is customizable in length, width and depth. There are also a decent amount of costume and face choices.