Virtual Pro Wrestling 2: The best N64 wrestling video game

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 03: Tiger Mask enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling at Korakuen Hall on July 03, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 03: Tiger Mask enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling at Korakuen Hall on July 03, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

With AEW Fight Forever on the horizon, many fans are rejoicing that the game will be a callback to the N64 wrestling game, No Mercy. No Mercy was not the only N64 wrestling game to be created by AKI, there were a couple of WCW and WWF games that got their start. If you live in Japan you were lucky enough to play Virtual Pro Wrestling 2.

What is Virtual Pro Wrestling? Back in the 90s, Japan was publishing NJPW and AJPW games left and right for the N64 and PS1. Virtual Pro Wrestling was the first of its kind to include all the Japanese wrestling promotions together in 3D. The first iteration was created as a mirror to the N64 wrestling game WCW: World Tour because Japan couldn’t get access to the WCW game so they created a more Japanese version with WCW characters (or at least their likeness).

WWF: WrestleMania 2000 came out in the new millennium and it was a roaring success. Aki and Asmik Ace had created a great wrestling game that included the tight controls of WCW/NWO Revenge. Japan may have had access to WrestleMania 2000, but Aki wanted a sequel to Virtual Pro Wrestling. This time the N64 wrestling game would have no tie to American wrestling and it would feature martial arts and MMA fighters. Virtual Pro Wrestling 2: Oudou Keishou was born and it is the most faithful game we have to Japanese wrestling under the Aki banner.

If you really wanted to play an Undertaker versus Stone Cold match in a steel cage then Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 is not your cup of tea. This N64 wrestling game is loyal to Japanese match rules. The game includes All Japan, New Japan, Frontier Martial Arts, PRIDE, Michinoku Pro Wrestling, Rings, BattlARTS, and Pancrase. If you have no idea who half of these are then you are in good company. The early 2000s had wrestling promotions popping up everywhere.

You might recognize Vader, Johnny Ace, and Tiger Mask among this game’s roster. The game also has a character creator mode and a mask editor. At the very least you can make the closest resemblance to John Cena and have him start his Japan tour.

The MMA and martial arts aspect of the game is what separates it from its American cousins. Wrestlers can use strike combos and link them with takedowns. There is more emphasis on ground and pound techniques. The game also includes wrestling moves that were banned in the states like the Burning Hammer or the Russian neck breaker.

One thing you will have to forego is the flash and sizzle of American wrestling. There is no iconic theme music for every wrestler and pyrotechnics are missing. Wrestlers walk out to the many iconic Japanese arenas and fight for the honor of the sport. One inclusion that I found most fascinating is the Team Battle Royal. Instead of having 40 wrestlers duke it out, you could have four teams of ten.

If you are a follower of AEW games YouTube channel you will have noticed Evil Uno and Eddie Kingston playing this. That makes total sense because this is the only AKI game that does not have WCW or WWE tied to it. They still found a way to honor Hideyuki Iwashita’s work without showing the other competition.

This game is not for everyone, obviously. If you are accustomed to spending hours making your own wrestlers and facing Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match this game won’t have what you are looking for. If you are too comfortable with the gameplay of today’s wrestling games then VPW2 might feel glitchy and broken by comparison. But this N64 wrestling game should not be missed by anyone who loves rare games and appreciates the legacy of wrestling in Japan.