Meat in a Garbage Can is a “whenever we feel like it” series wherein we discuss the much maligned beat-‘em-up genre. The series could cover games as far back as Karateka and as new as Batman: The Brave and the Bold. We write these because we love games that are about punching people. Or kicking them. Or hitting them with lengths of pipe. Whatever.
WayForward Technologies is a developer that is known for their generally excellent retro-styled games. Things like A Boy and His Blob, Contra 4 and Shantae: Risky’s Revenge show them to be one of the last great major studios doing true 2D work. But it wasn’t always that way. Way back in the early ’00s, they were mostly doing licensed Game Boy Color games for properties like Wendy the Witch and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Lots of witches. But also, wrestling. They did the GBC version of WCW Mayhem, which is the best version of that particular game, as the console versions are godawful. And they also did this game.
WWF Betrayal is not really a wrestling game. It’s a game based on a wrestling property. It’s actually, as I’m sure you can tell with this being a Meat in a Garbage Can article, a beat-‘em-up. And it’s bad. Like, really bad. It’s a mess, honestly. It looks pretty decent for a GBC game, though. I guess that’s good.
When the game starts, you get to choose from four of the top WWF stars. Given the timeframe, I’m sure you can easily surmise who those stars are, but I’ll just tell you anyways; The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and The Undertaker. They all play identically, except for their finishers and signature moves, and the signature moves are only usable against bosses (read: the other three guys you didn’t pick).
So, yeah, you pick a guy, then Stephanie McMahon gets kidnapped, then you walk right through a bunch of locales shamelessly cribbed from Final Fight (slums, subway, fancy office building) and punch dudes in the head. Occasionally, you get stun-locked by a cheap enemy (The guys carrying briefcase machine guns are the worst. Also, The Briefcase Machine Guns would be a great name for a punk band.) and killed almost instantly. Then, every two levels you fight a boss.
When fighting the normal, run of the mill baddies, you have two basic attacks; punch and kick. Neither has any sort of combo, like the type you see in most brawlers, but if you land five hits without getting hit, you can use your finishing move, which is an insta-kill on any non-boss enemy. There also a single running attack, the dropkick, which is good for getting an opening, but not much else. Doing a punch while running results in… a running punch. There’s also a smattering of weapons, which are extremely overpowered, and oddly don’t take advantage of the wrestling aspect of the game. One would expect to see folding chairs, stop signs, sledgehammers, cans of Steveweiser, but no. Standard brawler fare of pipes, crates, billy clubs, etc. is the order of the day. The billy club WOULD be a wrestling themed weapon, but the late Big Boss Man isn’t in this game.
Overall, the game is just rushed and it feels lazy. By 2001, this genre was well trodden ground. In fact, the genre had pretty well laid out it’s entire history by that point. When there are things like Alien vs. Predator, Guardian Heroes and Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder in the world, there’s no excuse for something as lazy as this, particularly from a developer capable of Contra 4. They even have the same director, Matt Bozon. The only thing I can ascribe this to is that they must have had a very brief development period.
Too bad, because this is really a concept I could get behind. There’s a lot of potential here, especially considering that as it stands practically every beat-‘em-up features a wrestler as a character anyways (Haggar from Final Fight, Max from Streets of Rage 2, etc.). Well, here’s hoping the upcoming CHIKARA game, Rudo Resurrection can see this concept through to its true potential.
- System: Game Boy Color
- Released: 2001
- Developer/Publisher: WayForward Technologies/THQ
- Most Brutal Attack: The Pedigree