What AEW’s First Console Game Can Learn from ‘WWF No Mercy’

AEW Games hosted its first presentation earlier this week, announcing that its first three games are currently in development. The most exciting announcement pertained to an unnamed console game developed by Yuke’s, the company behind several WWE releases. However, the company will also unleash AEW Elite General Manager and AEW Casino: Double or Nothing on mobile. It seems that AEW is going ALL IN with its gaming branch.

The presentation also provided fans with an early look at the gameplay for each, but it was the upcoming console release that got fans buzzing. The company released a trailer featuring gameplay footage of Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho and Hikaru Shida, which looked mightily impressive. The surprises didn’t end there, however, as the conference ended with Hideyuki Iwashita making an appearance to confirm that he’s working on developing the console entry.

Most wrestling fans associate Iwashita with WWF No Mercy, one of the greatest grappling games of all time. No hyperbole. Released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, the game is still highly regarded by fans due to its fighting mechanics and challenging modes. In the years that have passed since No Mercy’s initial release, fans have ensured the game has remained fresh by making their own modifications, such as updated rosters, arenas, and more.

That said, I imagine that most No Mercy aficionados will be excited about the release of AEW’s console game. The combination of modern graphics and the spirit of No Mercy is appealing. If the game lives up to its potential, it’s bound to be successful. And while Omega and co. kept most of the details close to the vest, the comparison to No Mercy provides some indication as to what to expect.

Superb Fighting Mechanics

AEW’s game is very reminiscent of No Mercy from the footage that was provided. This is mainly due to fighting mechanics that feel organic. The showcased match between Omega and Jericho was akin to human chess, with each performer countering moves and trying to get the upper hand. It remains to be seen how complex the gameplay actually is, but Omega’s description of simplicity + difficult-to-master elements sums up what makes No Mercy special.

No Mercy is an accessible game that’s easy to pick up at a base level. The fighting mechanics are simplistic in many ways, but really mastering them takes some time. Maybe you’ll defeat some computer characters with the basics, but going up against veteran players requires you to anticipate their every move and be on top form.

The grappling set-up is tremendous. The effectiveness of each move varies depending on how long buttons are pressed. Short taps unleash quick manoeuvres that keep the risk factor low, but it takes much longer to down your opponent’s health. Holding the button down longer results in more damaging moves, but they’re easier to counter. This makes for more varied and interesting matches.

Throw in being able to use the environment to your advantage (or disadvantage) and wrestlers whose individual styles are acknowledged, and what you have is a game that contains the unpredictability and organic feel of real pro wrestling. If AEW’s game is cut from a similar cloth, it will have endless replay value.

Challenging Story Mode

No Mercy’s “Championship Mode” offers endless replay value. Every eligible title has its own storyline, and the journey to capturing the gold is an arduous task. You’ll pull out your hairs trying to overcome certain challenges, but the determination to succeed and the addictive nature of the game means that you’ll have a blast at the same time.

Furthermore, no matter how many times you return to the story mode, you’ll find something new each time. Your character’s decisions and interactions affect how events play out, so each hunt for gold is different from the last. AEW’s game should embrace these factors as the story modes in recent WWE games don’t offer much in the way of wanting to return to them.

AEW’s release doesn’t have to incorporate the championship chase structure. However, a story mode that offers simple, yet challenging, hurdles to overcome, coupled with a host of different scenarios that will require multiple playthroughs to complete, is the way to go.

In-Game Currency

This might be a long shot considering that modern games are determined to keep making us part with our hard-earned money. Part of the fun of old wrestling games was playing to unlock prizes based on achieving goals. No Mercy’s “SmackDown Mall” feature allows players to purchase items with an in-game currency that’s earned by winning matches and completing objectives. That’s a lost art.

AEW’s game should make us unlock wrestlers by defeating them in story modes and/or gaining in-game rewards to purchase them. Not only will it show that the company doesn’t want to milk us dry, but it will provide more incentives to keep returning to the game itself.

Unique Match Types

No Mercy‘s “Survival Mode” is a simple concept that’s entertained the game’s most loyal payers for 20 years. All the player has to do is win a Royal Rumble-esque match that requires you to defeat every superstar in the company. Your character is the first entrant, and it just keeps getting tougher as it goes. Then, if you make it to the very end, you must take on the almighty Andre the Giant.

For this gamer, this is the most enjoyable feature in No Mercy. It’s such a basic idea, but it’s extremely challenging and requires the player to be on top form. I wouldn’t be mad if AEW’s game ripped off this mode and packaged it as an epic Casino Battle Royale match. However, knowing the people involved in this release, they’ll probably be more interested in introducing their own ideas. Still, including some lengthy evergreen match types that require some skill and patience in order to win is a neat idea.

Of course, AEW Games shouldn’t merely set out to recreate No Mercy. The game to bring some new and previously underutilized ideas to the table. This is an AEW game after all, and the spirit of the company needs to be intact.

AEW has also featured some unique and throwback matches on its television shows. Adding the Casino Ladder, Bunkhouse Brawl, Blood and Guts, and Dog Collar matches would be an excellent touch. The Casino Ladder concept is an original spin on traditional Ladder matches, and nothing like it has been included in a wrestling game as far as I’m aware.

Bunkhouse Brawl and Dog Collar matches aren’t commonplace in wrestling console releases either. Blood and Guts, meanwhile, could make for the ideal multi-player event as it could potentially allow up to 10 participants if it’s modelled after the actual match type.

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