WWE All-Stars puts three decades of pro-wrestling superstars in one ring, and according to the senior designer, WWE fans could hardly ask for a better lineup.
There are two main draws to THQ San Diego's upcoming WWE All-Stars. One is the exaggerated, over-the-top arcade-y action - it's to previous WWE games what NFL Blitz is to Madden - and the other is the premise itself: Past wrestling legends throwing down with modern superstars in dream matchups that could never have happened in reality.
The Escapist spoke with the game's senior designer David Friedland last week at a press event for various THQ titles, and he explained the challenges of putting together a roster. "I probably had a list of a hundred when I started," said Friedland, "but we really looked at it and said, who are really the best in every category? Who were the biggest of the big men? Who were the best old-school high-flyers? Who were the best grapplers? Who were the best technicians? Who were the superstar personalities?"
"We worked with WWE to get it down to what we think is the best roster we've ever put together for a WWE game."
Everyone on the team had their favorites that they were pulling for, said Friedland. "I was ready to start a fight if someone tried to get [Ricky Steamboat] off the roster. We got him in! I'd love to say that every single person we wanted is in there, unfortunately not - but I think overall it's the best representation of the WWE has ever had." Friedland also acknowledged that stars that didn't make the initial cut could be developed and added later on as DLC, naming the Million Dollar Man and his son Ted DiBiase Jr. as examples.
Within the roster, said Friedland, there were obvious comparisons to be made between the stars of yesterday and the stars of today. WWE All-Stars features an entire mode based around these concepts called Fantasy Warfare, which stars old-school legends and modern superstars "who are from different generations, but they're either a similar style in the ring - a similar personality, a similar gimmick - something about them which makes them the best at what they particularly did in their generation. And we match them up against each other."
An obvious fantasy matchup - one that was discussed at the event - was the 7'4" Andre the Giant vs. his modern contemporary, the 7'1" Big Show. Others could pit acrobatic fighters like luchador-inspired Rey Mysterio or high-flying Kofi Kingston against the aforementioned Ricky Steamboat, whose moves were more martial-arts inspired but no less nimble.
Given that the entire premise of the game - pitting two groups of fighters who would never otherwise meet against each other - was vaguely similar to "Versus" games like Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe or Marvel vs. Capcom, we asked Friedland: Would the developers ever be up for a "WWE vs. Capcom"?
"If someone wants to put that deal together," laughed Friedland, "I would certainly be for it!" The All-Stars development team had tons of fighting-game fans on it, he said - fans of Street Fighter, Soul Calibur, even Def Jam: Fight For New York.
"If someone, at some point wanted to do 'WWE Superstars Vs. Whoever,' oh I'd certainly be for it. I'm sure a lot of people would get a kick out of that."