Retro Wrestling Gaming: A Look at WWF (WWE) Superstars (1989, Technōs Japan)

WWE (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WWE (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Six years after Technōs Japan created the first-ever pro-wrestling video game and two years after WWE (WWF at the time) made its debut on the video game scene, both companies joined forces to make history to create WWF (WWE) Superstars, the first arcade game based on the pro-wrestling company.

Featuring superstars Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Ultimate Warrior, Ted DiBiase (non-playable), The Honky Tonk Man, and André the Giant (non-playable), each wrestler has their own individual signature moves and taunts during matches, and WWF Superstars also has cut scenes featuring Gene Okerlund, Ted DiBiase, André the Giant, Virgil, and Miss Elizabeth.

Although being named after WWE’s popular syndicated, “Superstars” program, this game also borrows from WrestleMania, as wrestlers come to the ring via a ring cart as opposed to walking, just as wrestlers did at WrestleMania III.

It appears that  Technōs Japan saw a lot of value in tag-team wrestling because just like the first pro-wrestling game they created, WWF Superstars focuses on tag-teaming. This likely was inspired by NJPW’s level of focus on tag-teaming, as the Japan-based major pro-wrestling company has been having major tag-team tournaments since 1980.

WWF Superstars was very popular. In its January 1990 issue, RePlay ( a monthly trade publication that covers the game center and route business) ranked WWF Superstars number one for, “best software” in its, “Players’ Choice” feature,  which listed the top games in operation, based on an earnings-opinion poll of operators. Interestingly, despite its favorable reviews, WWF Superstars was never ported for a game console, which was done for “Double Dragon II: The Revenge” in 1990, another arcade game published by Technōs Japan.

In 1991,  Technōs Japan published “WWF WrestleFest” a similar arcade game featuring wrestling superstars Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Mr. Perfect, Sgt. Slaughter, Demolition Smash, Demolition Crush,  Ultimate Warrior, Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts, Earthquake, and The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal are non-playable characters). Ring announcer Mike McGuirk is featured as well.

Instead of focusing on tag-team wrestling as WWF Superstars did, WWF WrestleFest also featured a Royal Rumble mode.

Although it too was a popular arcade game (one of the most popular of the year in fact), this was another Technōs Japan arcade game that was not ported for a game console. However, in 2012, video game company THQ released a contemporary version for iOS.

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After being in business for 15 years, Technōs Japan declared bankruptcy in 1996 and went defunct. Their intellectual properties were purchased by licensing company Million Co. Ltd, but were later acquired in 1995 by Japanese video game developer and publisher Arc System Works.

Speaking of  Technōs Japan, it’s notable that they were better known as, “American  Technōs” in the United States- American Technos was their US subsidiary, directly responsible for publishing the company’s arcade games in the US.