Acclaim always had its ups and downs as a video game company, but they always managed a certain degree of success with licensed Professional Wrestling games, first with WWE (before losing the license to THQ) and then with ECW (before the company went under). In 2001, without any prominent promotion to cash in on, they decided to go for a bold move. That move was Legends Of Wrestling.
Legends Of Wrestling features wrestlers from various different eras of professional wrestling, from old school guys such as Killer Kowalski and Bruno Sammartino to Rock'n'Wrestling era stars such as Hulk Hogan and Ted DiBiase to even modern wrestlers such as Rob Van Dam and Eddie Guerrero, although it'd be lying to say that Hogan himself wasn't the top attraction of the games, featuring prominently on every installment's cover. The second game also featured the late comedian Andy Kaufman, with the career mode being able to relive his feud with Jerry Lawler.
In total, three installments were released before Acclaim folded: Legends Of Wrestling in 2001, Legends Of Wrestling II in 2002 and Showdown: Legends Of Wrestling in 2004.
This series contains examples of:
- Anachronism Stew: Deliberate, given the inclusion of famous wrestlers from across 50 years of modern professional wrestling. A large number of wrestlers also feature a lot of modern moves added to their movesets, in an attempt to appeal to casual gamers as well.
- Captain Ersatz: The second game featured a story mode with regional promoters, all ersatzes of existing wrestling promoters:
- Tony "The Boss" Pavoratti (Northeast region) is an italian version of Vince McMahon.
- Tex McGraw (Southwest region) is based on Ted Turner.
- Belle Jackson (Southeast region) is based on Christine Jarrett, grandmother of Jeff Jarrett.
- Randall Schmandall (Pacific region) is a skinny, location-displaced Paul Heyman.
- Scotty MacDougall (Midwest region) is based on Jim Crockett.
- Hiro Natsuume is based on Hiro Matsuda, former president of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
- Character Customization: Since Acclaim popularized this in western wrestling games, its inclusion is a given. However, the quality of the mode varies wildly from game to game:
- The first game lacked facial customization but allowed the loading of an in-game wrestler as a template.
- The second game did away with the in-game wrestler template and instead added more parts and more faces and body types.
- The third game used both the extended customization options and the in-game wrestler template, but ended up doing away with color customization on attire pieces.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: At least in tag team matches, even in Easy mode the enemy AI will know exactly how to position itself for double team moves, which are both devastating and unblockable.
- Dream Match Game: The entire draw of the series is being able to pit the greatest wrestlers across all eras of the sport against each other.
- Glass Jaw Referee: Any in-game referee suffers from this, staying down for a considerable amount of time from the merest bump from an incoming wrestler. Since you can pick any in-game character to be a referee in this game, it becomes hilarious as Eddie Guerrero bumps into André the Giant, who rolls around in pain like he just got powerbombed by Godzilla.
- Idiot AI: Each game has suffered from this to some degree. Notably, Legends of Wrestling II has enemy AI immediately go outside the ring for a weapon as soon as his opponent is dazed... even when DQs are active and the referee isn't down.
- Lighter and Softer: Graphics-wise anyway, the game went for a very cartoony look, perhaps to distinguish itself from THQ's more realistic game offerings, or perhaps to reflect the larger-than-life personas of professional wrestling legends.
- Obvious Beta: The final game, Showdown, was incredibly glitchy even compared to the previous two.
- Regional Bonus: The PAL version of Legends of Wrestling II adds British wrestling legends Kendo Nagasaki, Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Mick Mc Manus to the roster.
- Scenery Porn: The international arenas in Legends Of Wrestling II are a bit stereotypical (the one in Cairo looks like an ancient egyptian temple, the one in Rome looks like the Coliseum) but damn if they aren't freaking gorgeous.
- Shown Their Work: A very particular example, although the game suffers from numerous flaws including relatively inaccurate movesets, the designers actually programmed the crowd in the Tokyo arena to act like a Japanese wrestling audience, with clapping during spots rather than massive pops of cheers.
- Spiritual Successor: WWE Legends of Wrestlemania.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: A minor example, but it is incredibly unsettling to see the roided up, bleach blonde Scott Steiner enter the ring to his old "high school marching band" theme music.
- Furthermore, Legends of Wrestling II is a game featuring all those great old school wrestlers you grew up with... and the soundtrack is by flavor-of-the-month nu-metal bands like Saliva and Trapt.