Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home

Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 10/15/2003 for PS2  

Remember ECW? Paul Heyman’s little startup promotion based out of New York that held events in bingo halls? Well if you do you’ll remember just how much unnecessary violence was present in each of those weekly events. Apparently the guys at Eidos were huge fans of the ECW because they’ve developed Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Try This at Home, a game that pays homage to the likes of Sabu, RVD and all of those little idiots who were made famous by those cheesy little backyard wrestling videos. Now those idiots have a game to call their own, and like the Acclaim-developed ECW games, it’s a stinker of all sorts that should not be played by anyone who values their sanity.

For the uninitiated, Backyard Wrestling is a line of videos which showcases idiots doing all kinds of crazy wrestling stunts in their backyards. From putting people through burning tables to beating others with barbed wire 2x4s, it’s the epitome of violence. In fact it’s more or less an unorganized version of ECW and instead of the likes of Sabu or Taz you get some 15-year-old with low self esteem. It’s the fight club of the new millennium, and next to bum fights, it appears to be what’s “hip” with the kids these days.

Speaking of Sabu, he’s managed to weasel his way into yet another wrestling game, as has the Insane Clown Posse. Instead of creating a cast of fictional characters or signing on the morons from the actual videos Eidos went out of its way to sign some independent wrestlers. In addition to the aforementioned Sabu you’ll be able to assume control of one of the Miller Lite girls, Tom Dub and a bunch of other guys that you’ve never heard of before. With that in mind it must be assumed that this game can’t succeed on name value alone so thus it panders to what every teenage boy desires, excessive and unnecessary violence.

Sometimes you just can’t help but wonder why a game was even made in the first place. Like the lame license that this title is based on, the game is just a horrible, unorganized debacle of sheer mayhem and lunacy. Not that I don’t like a little bit of chaos and mayhem every now and then, but I’d like it to be executed in a fun and entertaining manner. Backyard Wrestling is neither and actually has more in common with a 3D fighting game than a 3D grappler. Here’s how most of the bouts break down, run, run, run, pick up object, hit opponent with object, run, run, run, pick up another object, hit opponent with it. Repeat until opponent can’t get up and then pin to mercifully end the match. This is one of the worst games of the year, as if the annoying TV spots weren’t enough of an indication.

To show just how shallow this title is each wrestler has about eight different grapples in their arsenal. This pales in comparison to the dozens and dozens of moves that the wrestlers in the THQ or even EA Sports BIG titles have. Sure it’s geared more towards the ADD-infused action oriented youth of today, but there has to be some meat for the gamer to chew on. Instead of focusing on grapples the spotlight is placed squarely on the weaponry and how you can use it. Making matters worse is the horrific controls that successful mimics the feeling that one must get when trying to drive a boat on ice. They’re just far too loose and the overly sensitive analog sticks make this game damn near unplayable. Because the animation is a bit jerky and the game moves a bit too quickly, it can be difficult to even line yourself up with your opponent. As a result you’ll just sort of run around and rapidly press buttons aimlessly until you manage to make contact with an opponent.
A little bit of redemption can be found in the level design, but not much. You’ll engage in combat in a wide array of locales including a backyard (duh), truck stop, meat locker, strip club and a mansion. They’re large, that’s for damn sure, and the multi-tiered environments make for some pretty interesting designs. Being able to move so freely around the environments gives you a sense of freedom that isn’t found in the WWE games but the spaciousness really works at a disadvantage for this game, mainly because the matches generally boil down into one large game of cat and mouse.

As if the game wasn’t boring enough it’s not much to look at either. All of the models are relatively stringy and are lacking in bulk and definition. They all have this really wiry look to them as if they could really use a few thousand or so additional polygons to help flesh them out a bit. The texture work is pretty bad too as the clothing and accessories on the wrestlers look decidedly flat and plain. Things don’t get much better regarding the animation either. Making matters worse for all of the wrestlers is the fact that they all look, move and animate in exactly the same fashion. In the end it feels like you’re just playing palette swaps of the various characters, kind of like having a game filled with Sub-Zero and Scorpion look alikes.

Where the real visual problems reside is in the textures used for the game. Some of the level architecture really isn’t that bad, it’s just the outside coating that could really use some touchups. Most of the textures are relatively weak and muddled, giving the game an overall washed out look that is neither attractive nor appealing. Even the complementary visual touches, such as flames, look so bland and uninspired that one can’t help but wonder why they were included in the first place. Rounding out this slaughter are the numerous clipping problems where players can actually get stuck into the environments just for running into walls. You’ll have to rely on your opponent to pummel you until you eventually become dislodged from your predicament.

You’d think that your game is in trouble when the title track is done by Sum 41 but surprisingly, the game’s strongest aspect lies in its audio. All of the real wrestlers took the time to come in and record their own voices for the game, lending a strong personality to each of the characters. The robust soundtrack is really where it’s at though as bashing opponents to the tune of Andrew W.K., Rancid and CKY really adds a layer of intensity to the game that it’s sorely lacking. Environmental and combat effects sound more or less what you may expect them to sound like, just recorded at a much lower quality than you’d probably like.

A little bit of depth is added via the talk show mode which is essentially a modified version of a season mode. This is by far, the lamest attempt at humor that we’ve seen in a game this year. It tries to be funny and tongue-in-cheek but it just comes off as being awkward and lame. I didn’t chuckle once at the interaction and the inclusion of the ICP in the cutscenes just makes them all the more unbearable. When you beat the talk show mode, and you’ll do this within a few hours, you’ll be able to unlock new wrestlers to use in the other modes. There are a few multiplayer modes but they’re not really all that fun or eventful. In the end this is a very shallow game that won’t keep you entertained for more than a few hours.

When push comes to shove Backyard Wrestling gives a half-hearted nudge. Its mantra of supposed violence and hardcore action can’t make up for the lack of depth and weak gameplay elements. Don’t try this at home? Don’t play this at home is a more appropriate subtitle for this game. It’s so sluggish, boring, bland and uninspired that I can’t think of one person who would feel satisfied with blowing their $50 hard earned dollars on it. It’s a fighting game that’s masquerading as a grappler but in the end it fails to appeal to fans of both the fighting and wrestling genre.
I can’t help but feel that the title for Eidos’ Backyard Wrestling Don’t Try This at Home has a huge typo in it. Backyard Wrestling: Don’t Play This at Home, Don’t Play This at a Friend’s House, Don’t Play this Game EVER is a more suitable title for it.

Rating: 5.2 Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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