Feel my rage in thy cage!
By 1993 officially licensed WWF (now known as WWE) games were certainly not a new thing. Acclaim had held the exclusive license to produce them now for several years and they were steadily getting better. So with the enhanced power of Sega’s Mega CD add-on at their disposal you would expect them to come up with the ultimate wrestling game right? Well no, but it’s not quite as cut and dry as that, which is probably the most frustrating thing of all about WWF Rage in the Cage. With this game Acclaim got so much right, introducing a vast array of new features that we would now consider to be standard editions to any modern WWE game. But just a few stupid omissions get in the way of WWF Rage in the Cage being the ultimate wrestling game of the 16-bit era. I will grapple with my thoughts and explain a bit further just why this is.
I should start off by mentioning that WWF Rage in the Cage was the very first wrestling game to feature actual video footage of the superstars themselves and their signature moves, something that is now standard in WWE wrestling games. This takes the form an opening video as well clips of each of the wrestlers’ signature moves that can be viewed from the wrestler select screen. There are also individual FMV clips that play for each of the superstars when you complete the tournament mode. WWF Rage in the Cage also features proper introductions by legendary Howard Finkel and rants between the competitors prior to each match, something else that soon became pretty standard in grappling games. WWF Rage in the Cage also features no less than 20 wrestlers, the most seen in a WWF game up to that point, allowing you play with almost an entire roster at your disposal. Favourites like Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect and The Undertaker feature alongside superstars who rarely make it into the video games such as Tatanka, Crush and Kamala.
Singles stars aren’t the only ones to feature though, as there are also several tag teams on the roster – including The Nasty Boys, The Headshrinkers and three time champions Money Inc. (my personal favourites!) Sounds good doesn’t it? But there’s one big problem with this though, there is no tag team mode! I am not kidding either! It is simply unfathomable that the programmers, Sculptured Software, didn’t include a tag team mode of any kind. Especially as this was by then a standard feature in all wrestling games. This also means WWF Rage in the Cage does away with the Survivor Series mode that had featured in previous games. You can still play one-on-one against a friend thankfully, but for a game that had such a big amount of memory and disc space at its disposal, it feels incredibly light on different options.
Despite the pretty serious omission of a tag team mode, WWF Rage In The Cage, is actually a very good game indeed. The huge roster, steel cage matches and video clips add to make it the best wrestling experience on the Mega Drive in every other way. The graphics are really great with some superb animation and great pixel likenesses of your favourite grapplers. Expect some very grainy video though – not a surprise, and more a standard when it comes to the Mega CD. I already mentioned the sound but obviously the game benefits greatly from being on CD in this department. WWF Rage in the Cage is very easy to pick up and play and the controls work really well. If only they had included a tag team mode you be looking at a rating at least a notch higher and one of the best wrestling games ever made – a real missed opportunity there if there ever was one.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Sega Mega CD (reviewed) ; Publisher: Acclaim ; Developer: Sculptured Software ; Players: 1-2 ; Released: December 21, 1993 ; ESRB: E for Everyone ; MSRP: N/A