TURN TO CHANNEL 3: ‘Battle Royale’ is short and cheesy fun for classic wrestling fans
My fondness for the TurboGrafx-16 comes from my childhood attachment to it. During a time when you were either a Nintendo fan or an early Sega Genesis follower, the TurboGrafx-16 offered you an alternative and almost a bridge between the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming. It still bothers me to this day that so many people still have no idea what this system was or that it even existed.
One of the things the console and those companies making games for it never got enough credit for is that they made simple, yet fun and addicting games that almost anyone could pick up, play, and enjoy.
Today’s subject of Turn to Channel 3 is probably not on any Top 5 or even Top 10 lists of all-time great games for the console, but it holds a special place in my heart and has endured like your favorite guilty pleasure film or cartoon show from the 1980s and ‘90s. Let’s hit the ring with the zany characters of “Battle Royale!”
“Battle Royale” (TurboGrafx-16)
With a limited soundtrack of wrestler themes, all of which sound like they came from the WWF’s bargain bin of ‘90s entrance themes, generic news bulletin music during the menu screen, and a lackluster rock opening theme, there’s not much to be excited about in that aspect. No, the true stars of this game’s soundtrack are the sound effects, as each grunt, gasp, punch, and kick sounds pretty hilarious.
But these bow down to the sounds of a wrestler being thrown over the top rope (the classic “Ahhhh!” Wilhelm scream) and, of course, the single line from each competitor, which ranges from the Kool-Aid Man-esque “Oh yeah!” to the supposed Mongolian staple “You die!” because I know when we read history books about Genghis Khan, these are the two words that struck fear into the hearts of his enemies and got him a guest spot in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” This is just one of the reasons why this game is so cheesy and cornball that it holds a special place in the hearts of TG-16 gamers like me.
While the in-ring graphics (especially the graphics in the pre-match ritual of having your manager choose a combatant) are limited to some extent, I still find that these five characters (yes, a wrestling game with only five characters to choose from) have endured and aged well, despite their wrestling stereotypes for the time. What truly shines, however, are the menu screen news bulletin portions of the game, along with the pre-match cut scene messages from one of the managers. Yes, what they say may be among some of the cheesiest lines you will ever read in a video game of the time period, but keep in mind that, outside of arcade games, many wrestling games, licensed or otherwise, either didn’t have something like this or was a complete mess.
If there’s a part of “Battle Royale” where the game truly struggles, it is in the lack of variety and options for the gamer, as you are only given two options – a standard battle royale and a tournament mode, the latter of which tasks you with defeating each combatant one-on-one battle royale style, then adding another competitor in each wave of action until you are battling all the combatants as you would in a standard battle royale.
While this can become taxing and downright frustrating at times, as all of them seem to gang up on you more than each other (there are some silly AI exceptions once in a while), you are left wondering why a standard one-on-one tournament, perhaps with extra characters, was never made. This definitely lowers the replay value on this game immensely.
It’s easy for a guy like me to slip on the rose-colored glasses of my mind’s eye for games like this, but the truth of the matter is “Battle Royale” was never given a sequel, and maybe if it did we would have more characters, more mode options and, thus, more replay value but, alas, what we have is a game with cheesy good charm that can only be enjoyed for short periods of time before you become bored with it. It’s a sad realization for me, but it is definitely a sound statement.
Next time on Turn to Channel 3, we leave the squared circle for the jungles of TurboGrafx-16’s “Bloody Wolf!”
Until then, make sure you have the necessary ingredients to make yourself that snow day French toast and, as always, game on!