Thanks to the scars of childhood memories, it didn't take long to find the perfect analogy for WWE SmackDown Vs Raw 2008 on Wii. We were eight and we'd spent three months hinting that we wanted a Transformers toy as a present for our growing collection... and yet come Christmas Day, what did we end up with? A bloomin' Gobot. True, it ticked all the relative boxes (robot, transforming ability, plastic weaponry not suitable for children under three) but all the same, it was a lame imitation of what we actually wanted.
And sadly, so it is with SmackDown on the Wii. Instead of a solid continuation of the series we've already enjoyed on other consoles, THQ's latest effort can be summed up perfectly in just two words: dumbed down. And we don't just say that because the game's controls are so simplistic that we suspect even an ape could master them. No, for reasons that we can only attribute to the Wii appealing to a wider audience than just traditional gamers, the entire WWE experience here has been boiled down until barely even the core components remain. No, before you ask, that's not a good thing.
Checking out the initial options proves this fact before you even start a match. Where are all the options? Where are the cage, table or ladder matches? Hell In The Cell? Royal Rumble? None of them are present. Neither are the extensive wrestler types or arena hot-zones that are present in the PS3 and 360 versions; they've been stripped out too, presumably because your typical Wii owner would find them too confusing.
The true extent of the game's dumbing down, however, becomes apparent once you get into a match. Primarily, that's thanks to the controls which, in order to make them 'accessible' to the Wii's mass-market audience, basically come down to one thing. Attacking? Shake the remote. Grappling? Hold A or B and shake the remote. Countering? Getting up after being knocked down? Forcing a pin? All shaking the remote. While this means almost anyone can play, it also renders true control over what you're doing virtually impossible. You never really feel like you're choosing which moves to use, although there are hardly any moves anyway. There's not even a Run button, for goodness sake! Playing and winning requires very little skill (because you can do finishers non-stop once your opponent's energy turns red) but even when you do actually lose, you never feel like you could have done anything about it anyway.
King Of The Bin
That the Main Event career mode isn't even close to the one in the last PS2 game really is the final boot to the lycra-clad crotch. There's no voice acting, no storylines to get involved with and not even any training mini-games tied into improving the stats of your wrestler.
Yes, we can see what THQ has tried to do with SmackDown on Wii but rather than it feeling more appealing to those not normally into WWE titles, it just serves as a giant slap in the face to those that actually care about wrestling games. As massive wrestling fans ourselves, we couldn't be more disappointed - it's just another example of the Wii getting short-changed. We're starting to think this whole mass-market thing is more of a curse than a blessing.