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     " No Mercy shows…No…Mercy…Damn I suck. "

   Title: WWF No Mercy by THQ

   Format: N64 wrasslin’ game

   Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult

   The Hype: Utilizing the same engine as their last year hit Wrestlemania 2000, No Mercy takes the WWF phenomenon one step further- offering more wrestlers, arenas, moves, create a wrestler options, etc. All this is supposed to be wrapped up with improved game play and story modes. So, did it score the pin or get ‘DQ’ed? Read the damned review to find out…I am not going to spoil it here.

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: It is pretty much universally accepted that Wrestlemania 2K pushed the poor little Nintendo 64 about as far and as hard as it could possibly go. It had good textures, fluid motion, nice shading, and great modeling. It did, however, suffer from some pretty serious handicaps (as you know if you read our review of it then…Or now, in the archive). No Mercy, then, makes a very valiant effort to further capitalize on those advancements and even take it a few steps further. The crowds, formerly incredibly crappy 2D sprites are now only moderately crappy and overlaid 2D sprites. The backgrounds, which were formerly dull and uneventful are now more tightly detailed and dynamic, beyond that enhanced back-staged areas, more varied weapons (which actually stay in play now), and somewhat dynamic environments have also been added. All wonderful steps up, unfortunately, in the process of adding this innovations, THQ was forced to slur the engine some- adding to the already extreme clipping issues previously suffered and turn down the wrestler model quality leaving them looking blocky and pixilated. All in all, the game is still fine to look at but loses that more refined quality it had before. Is this degradation worth the increased game options of back stage matches and increased weapon quality? Abso-frickin’-lutely! However, it still keeps graphics down a point to 4 out of 5.

   Sound: I suppose I’ll be letting the cat- bound, gagged, and anally duct taped out of the burlap bag a bit when I lead off with the phrase, "Sound is definitely the one place this game sucks donkey," but I think it’s necessary to get the point across. In what will otherwise be a shining review, sound in all forms (music, fx, voice overs, etc.) is the feces in my pie. The in game effects (such as punches, bumps, grunts, etc.) are all cheap, strained, and generally annoying. But, by far, worse than that is the ridiculous selection of music and audio clips they tossed in this game. The two main theme songs, which end up playing constantly during match formatting and wrestler creating, are aggravating enough that you may gouge your ear drums out with dixie straws and the lyrics to the music will definitely give you cause to debate destroying your TV’s speakers- thus preventing you from ever hearing that tripe again. Why THQ, with what is otherwise an awesome game, chose to puss out on the audio is beyond me, but dead silence would have been preferable to what we’re exposed to here. 2 out of 5

   Game Play: Okay, with the two slightly lesser qualities out of the way, let’s get down to business. How good is game play, you ask? Well, g’dammit, I’m just about to tell you so be a little patient. Sheesh. So, playability, in a word, is fantastic. No, incredible. No, it’s phenomenal. No, wait…its Monkeyrific! Oh gods, did I just say "Monkeyrific"? I am such a geek. Anyway… In a brilliant example of how solid a game can be built, THQ started with the ground and worked their way up. First, the actual control structure is not only the same smooth design we got with Wrestlemania but is even a little bit better. No Mercy employs a simple but effective "just shy of button mashing" two button base scheme which means that just about any Monkey can sit on their fat ass, pick up a controller, and stand a fighting chance. But, not to be overly simplified, the game also makes use of every damned button on the controller smoothly and effectively- meaning that there is always room for advancement in your gaming style. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s the way all wrestling games should be.
   Beyond great controls there are incredible playing options, an area in which No Mercy shows…No…Mercy…Damn I suck. Anyway, moving past the basic "singles, tag, and triple threat" style of virtually every game out there, THQ added Royal Rumbles, handicapped matches, hardcore battles, cage matches, and my two personal favorites: Ladder and Guest Referee Matches…Two options previously unseen in major wrestling titles. The ladder match, as you can guess, is an all out brawl to set up the ladder in the middle of the ring and retrieve the prize that dangles precariously on a rope high above the center. With it they included all of the whirling-jumping-Hardy-Boys-death and destruction you expect to see and singles, tag, and triple threat action. It is keen beyond keen! Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they tossed in a guest referee option that lets you step in the game as the one calling all the shots. Issue warnings, rope breaks, count pins, declare submissions, and even play a little equalizer by interfering if you feel it’s warranted. One of the neatest damned things I’ve ever seen. As a warning, though, be careful…We Monkeys have started an inner office grudge that means fair officiating will probably never happen again. Beyond that, there are also special qualifications matches (time limits, submission only, etc.) in the single player mode.
   And, on that note, let’s talk about the single player mode really quickly. Now, if you read our review of Wrestlemania, you know we absolutely hated the B.S. way THQ handled the career mode. You’d get screwed, fight against ridiculous odds, and be forced to arbitrarily lose matches via undefeatable opponents in a story less bore. Well, THQ listened to our, and many other Monkeys, rantings and changed things- 110%. Now, instead of just wandering towards Wrestlemania you choose the belt you want to aspire towards and fight 8-12 vicious matches to acquire it. Within that journey, you’ll face a myriad of match types, make allies, earn enemies, and struggle your way to the top. And then, once you’ve earned that belt, branch off and play a new story line trying to defend it. Best of all, however, is that the path is DYNAMIC (yes, I said dynamic) with only very select matches (and you’re told ahead of time) being must win! So, if you screw up and job you’re title away to Viscera, get ready to pay the toll and fight your way back to the top. It completely kicks ass.
   Finally, as if all that wasn’t enough, they went a step further with the Smackdown Mall option. The Smackdown Mall is the place you go to build and edit characters in the same fun way Wrestlemania had. But, if that’s not enough, it also lets you "shop" for extras. Special moves, new costumes, extra weapons, and most of the hidden characters are all available for you to "buy" using money you earn playing in the single player mode. So, just in case you’re lazy or just suck too much to unlock the characters the old fashioned way, play around and earn enough money to sign them under contract in the mall. It’s amazingly cool.
   But, not to have this review be all gold and roses, game play does lose a precious half point through some pretty severe collision problems, enhanced difficulty that is only reflected through ridiculous amounts of reversals by computer opponents, and the fact that you can’t play the belt modes double player (which would have been nice).
   Still, all in all, the best damned wrestling game ever. Period. 4.5 out of 5

   Level and Environment Designs: How much back stage area should be included has been one of the great debates amount wrestling game makers for as long as there have been wrestling games. The more you include the more fun it can be…But also the more resources your detracting from game play, graphics, etc. (Especially on the ridiculously limited space of a cartridge). So, where’s the middle ground? Well, No Mercy thinks it’s in about 8 back stage, plus several ring and background designs. And, once you’re rolling, this seems to be more than enough. Each ring is pretty much standard (though does include a break-away announcer’s table), then moves into a "ramp" staging area (that spot where wrestlers first come out), then leads to a back stage hallway with doors heading into everything from a sports bar to a parking garage to the boiler room. Scattered in each area are an assortment of weapons, paraphernalia designed to help add to the "visual experience," and often-small sub levels (like the back of a semi trailer) that you can maneuver into. All in all, pretty damned sweet, and enough to keep you entertained. 5 out of 5

   Multiplayer: There is not a single Monkey-licking-question in my head that this is the real raison-d’être for No Mercy (what, you don’t know the language of the Cheese Bleeding Surrender Monkeys? Well, look it up…I am not explaining it here). Though the single player kicks ass, and there’s lots of ways to play with yourself, it gets exponentially more fun if you have other Monkeys to bang on. A small chimp load of match types, including cage, guest referee, tag, triple threat, and ladder mean you simply will not get bored or tire of "Pedigreeing" other Monkeys into oblivion, period, end of sentence. It does not, however, allow you to earn money (for the Smackdown Mall) or play through the belt modes multi-player…both of which it should. So, it loses a half point. 4.5 out of 5

   Replayability: Replayability comes from 4 things. 1) Multiplayer: As I said, you will never get tired of bashing and thrashing like you actually had a pair. 2) Expansive single player trees that leave much story to unfold and characters to unlock. 3) The need to make money to buy crap in the mall. 4) The sheer fun of Stunners, Mandible Claws, Rock Bottoms, Crippler Cross-faces, Dudley Death Drops, Olympic Slams, et al. If this sound like fun to you (and it sure does to me), this rates 5 out of 5. If it doesn’t sound like fun…then what the hell’s wrong with you?

   Story/Dramatics: Okay, the dramatics (in form of dialogue and plot) do down right stink. All dialogue sounds like The Rock should be the one spewing it (all the way down to referring to yourself in the third person) and whatever forth grader the got to write the damned lines should be busted back three grades. It’s all awful. On the plus side (and keeping it high on the rating scale), the story is DYNAMIC (yes, I’m excited about it…As often as I rage about story lines not being dynamic I have a right to be) and often is ripped straight from past wrestling plots. Which is keen. 4 out of 5

   Instructions and Learning Curve: Bah! Instructions. Who needs ‘em? This game is so simple, and so much fun, you’d have to be a frickin’ idiot to look at them more than a couple of times. If, however, you are that idiot you’ll find the instructions easy to understand and complete. Moron. 5 out of 5

   Installation and Real System Requirements: Frankly, I can’t imagine the piddly little 64 being pushed much harder than this. As it stands, I am pretty sure mine screams in agony and exertion every time I pop this game in and turn it on. Kick ass. 5 out of 5

   The Verdict:

       This review has been long enough that I don’t feel much need to re-cap it all. If you’ve read this far, you know what I’m going to say…No Mercy kicks ass. It’s THE wrestling game you have to have. Here endeth the sermon.

   The Good: Play modes; create a wrestler, shopping and unlocking, dynamic story lines, and game play, et al.

   The Bad: : Slightly cut graphics, some collision problems, bad writing.

   The Overall Ugly: I am never…Ever…getting rid of this game.

   What it's Worth: Your left testicle…that is what I’m selling my copy for if you want to buy it.

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