Review: Wrestlemania X8

It was almost inevitable that somewhere along the line we were going to see a grappler brought onto the Cube as they provide one of the most addictive, fun and downright playable game genres there is. Yes those greasy, drugged up freaks in tight spandex are back and ready to rumble. The way it stands, there are two types of wrestling games; one type hails more realistic holds and grapples (albeit wrestling is fake yes, but you know) which can get rather technical and requires skill to provoke and get the better of your opponent a lá the slick and crafty 'No Mercy' on the N64, or they can sway more along the lines of arcade style play where it's all rather simple and plain fun is the main goal a lá 'Smackdown!' on the Playstation. Depending on your personal opinion on this, it will change the way you see and judge Wrestlemania X8, although many of us dreamt of an advanced version of 'No Mercy', our cries were met by the opposite, the 'Smackdown!' like style. You can't blame the developers mind, Smackdown is hugely popular and sells by the bucket load, and in it's own right so should Wrestlemania X8, just because it's not the 'No Mercy' many of us all know and love doesn't mean it isn't worthy of your attention…


The main noticeable difference with a Cube games graphics than back to the N64 days is that now character models are a lot more realistic, both in their appearance and movement, no longer blocky and square with arms and shoulders that seemed almost disparate from the wrestler's body. The wrestlers entrances are particularly impressive with close up's of their figure and detail on their faces, the only down side is that this isn't really resembled once the action kicks off in the ring. They still look satisfactory but it's a shame they don't look quite as they do when they appear from behind the curtain. As for the ring itself, the ropes are surprising impressive in their appearance and realistically move when a greasy wrestler is bounced off them. Weapons unfortunately look pretty dismal though as do some of the actions such as slamming someone through a table, it can look so pathetic sometimes it's laughable. Overall, not too shabby, but lacking for sure with distinct areas for improvement. The crowd are, as usual quite shocking to look at.


WWE fans will recognize the majority of the catchy tunes that blast out from the wrestler's entrances, even though most are somewhat outdated by now in the ever changing environment that is the WWE, such as the 'Rollin' track by Limp Bizkit for the Undertaker, but it's good nonetheless. However, no doubt fans will recognize some never heard before tracks which are played, god knows why but Booker T's music is no where near what it should sound like, likewise with the nWo. The developers have simple made up a track that sounds remotely similar, hugely disappointing. In game music isn't any better either, repetitive and so ear bleedingly bad it makes you cringe! Other sounds like ladders falling, tables smashing, chairs cracking skulls, punches, body slams and trash cans dislodging brain cells etc are ok, but not as impactful as they could be. Crowd reactions to specials are very effective though making it feel that extra bit special as multiple camera flashes blind the arena and the crowd roars. They 'oooh' and 'aaah' at reversals too which is nice, but that's about it. No commentary is given either though this maybe isn't much of a loss considering how repetitive that has seen to be in other games.


Despite my complaints about sound and graphics, the gameplay kinda makes up for it. Fast, intense and more fun than rolling down a hill in a bin. That is of course if you can set aside the games differences to 'No Mercy' and treat it as its own game and learn to tolerate some of flaws the game possesses which are as follows. The main problem is that it's too damn simple, the game holds such a premise where simply pressing 'A' will pull off a move as will hammering 'B' into oblivion as that will constantly knock the hell out of someone with little effort. It's rather frustrating, but its upside is allowing better multiplayer accommodation as new players can easily get into it, how many times have you invited your mates round to play a game they found too darn difficult to get the hang of quickly that you simply slaughter them to the ground at it? As much fun as it is for you, it isn't all smiles and rainbows for them and works in favour of X8. The game's controls are fiddly though; performing actions like Irish whipping, picking up weapons etc requires you to press 2 buttons at the same time, not the best configuration by any means, though the Cube controller can be held responsible for some of the blame for that with its lack of buttons for such a game.

More flaws you will encounter within X8 include the fact that the amount of moves a particular wrestler has in his arsenal is pretty slim. Basically they have 4 front grapple moves, a couple of back grapple moves and some turnbuckle moves. What happened to the diversity? You will soon get very tired of seeing the same move over and over by the wrestlers. Terrible, but that's the price you have to pay for its simplicity and arcade style. 'Special' moves are something which can make or break a wrestling game, and thankfully it's in a workable system here with X8. Pulling off successful blows and moves on your opponent makes your 'energy' bar so to say rise, fill it to the end and you earn a 'special', your chosen wrestler's signature move, knowledge of what these are is needed as sometimes you need to perform them at a certain time for example whilst your opponent is face down on the floor etc. Working them out is all added fun though. You can build up and save up to 3 specials at any one time which is handy too but back to complaining, since when has 'Stephanie' done the 'pedigree'?! Fans will know what I mean and niggles like these are somewhat strange and just plain wrong. They can be changed mind via the edit options… (Though you can't change their appearance which unfortunately means Kurt Angle can't be made bald. Nooo! This also raises the worry of how to keep them up to date…)

The 'create a superstar' mode can be viewed in wrestling games as its key to adding new wrestlers that join the WWE roster after the games release. This happens often, and is certainly at its prime at the moment with 10 maybe 20 wrestlers present in the WWE now that aren't in the game. For shame! Not their fault I suppose, but they could've put more effort into the 'create a superstar' mode to cater for this. It's poor, let's put it that way, few options/moves/ring attire etc are available and creating the stature of your wrestler is hugely confusing asking you to vary the size of about 10 parts of the wrestlers body (upper arm, lower arm, chest, stomach etc) why? Although comical to make an un-proportional freak of nature, it's not really necessary and is a waste of time.

Back to the action let's look at the reversals. While this game was in development we heard of the ability to counter 'special' moves, something that hasn't previously been seen able to do in past games and an intriguing added feature indeed. By frantically pressing 'L' and 'R' you can counter general moves like suplexes and punches etc to your advantage, press them till your fingers bleed and every now and then you might reverse a special. The sheer delight on you face when you do this the seeing your mates eyes pop out of their face and their jaws drop in disbelief is priceless! That'll wipe that smug grin off their face, of course this is at its best with other human players though surprising and exciting when computer opponents do it but have them on one of the harder modes and they soon become reversing experts and it just becomes down right annoying.

Naturally a multitude of game modes are on offer with X8. As you'd expect there's 'Cage' matches, 'Hell in a cell' matches, 'Table' matches, ' Royal Rumbles', TLC's' etc, most of which can be faced as tag's, fatal four ways, triple threats and handicaps etc. There's no real disappointment in these options other than that 'hardcore' matches can't be taken backstage and possibly also the absence of a 'special guest referee' match. Shame. 'Cage' matches in particular are quite impressive as your will and power to escape the cage depends on your 'condition'. Beat the living daylights out of your opponent and thus getting your 'condition' to flashing red means you can climb out much faster than when if you're getting pummeled so that your 'condition' turns dark blue. This is also effective in Royal Rumbles as once thrown over the ropes, you hold on for your life, if dark blue in condition, say goodbye, if red then your chances at rolling back in are of better odds. To do either of these actions requires tapping the 'A' button as fast as possible, great fun and certainly builds up your adrenaline. Getting up top of the 'Cell' is also not to be missed, and yes you can smash your opponent through the top of it!

What else makes a wrestling game great? Why its story mode of course, only X8 hasn't got one. What happened there? It does have a 1 player mode to battle for the belts but there's no story behind it what-so-ever, just a bunch of random matches which somehow ends up with you battling in a title shot match. They do get you into all the different types of matches though, don't expect to win the title without escaping a cage, climbing a ladder to victory or crashing someone through a table and expect to do it under tough conditions too. Your reward for winning titles belts are unlocking wrestlers, with 36 wrestlers at your disposal from the get off bound to include some of your favourite superstars including new ones never before seeing the light of gaming appearence such as Rob Van Dam and Booker T. There are of course some of which you wont like and that are terribly out of date (Scotty to hotty anyone? And not to mention the nWo) there are 6 you can earn by winning belts but they're nothing too special in all honesty.

Ultimately, the gameplay is at its prime with 3 other chums, that's the concluding factor about the gameplay really, its more fun, frantic and exciting let alone hysterical to play your mates.


Simple to get into and great for first timers but can, to an extent be made more advanced by way of use of 'L' and 'R' for blocking and reversing moves.. The blocking and reversing can leave some button bashers in dismay when they find their tactics favour you in the long run (blocking gives you ridiculous amounts of 'energy' you see). One very annoying point is the fact that damage doesn't seem to have varying effects on the wrestlers, at times a simple knock down punch will keep them down for longer than after you do a 'special' on them when often they get straight back up, that's not right surely! Also getting pin falls is far too easy, both for you and the computer, you don't even have to do a 'special' to have someone's shoulders down for the '1,2,3'. Bizarre. Things are a little speedy too, not as bad as 'Smackdown!' which was far too fast, but its generally all run at a decent speed. ('No Mercy' was a bit too slow to be fair)


Plenty on offer and has the potential to last because with the range of cool stuff you can do with each type of match, get your mates into it and this will accompany your Cube for quite some time, even if it is out of date already.

Final Say:

Best served with 3 mates and a cold beer, great fun and easy to pick up. Only down side is it's not the 'No Mercy' many of us had hoped for, and it's already out of date which cant really be helped with such a dismal 'create a wrestler' mode. No story mode either, but it should suit your grapplin needs till X9 arrives. Good thing about it is that you don't have to be a fan of WWE to enjoy it, though it does help.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Good but not great, better than 'Smackdown!' and great fun if you can overlook it's flaws.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Match types


No story mode
Unrealistic and simplex
'create a superstar'

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