A playthrough of SNK’s 1993 wrestling game for the Neo Geo AES, 3 Count Bout (ファイヤースープレックス/Fire Suplex in Japan).
Played through as Terry Rogers on the normal difficulty level.
3 Count Bout is the only proper wrestling game that was released on the Neo Geo (unless you really stretch how you’d define the genre in order to include King of the Monsters), and it was easily one if the more impressive wrestling titles when it was released. Consuming a massive 106 megabits of memory, 3 Count Bout drew attention with its enormous character sprites, wide range of moves, violence, and generally gritty, hard-edged look – Saturday Night Slam Masters this is not. It feels far closer to Street Smart and Wrestle War (both arcade games with Sega Genesis ports) than it does any of the WWF games that were around at the time.
It’s also one of the few Neo Geo titles that I don’t recall ever seeing on any non-SNK platforms, either ported or emulated.
You get your choice of one of ten characters (eight are unique, while the other two are slightly altered clones), with many of them bearing more a slight resemblance to real wrestlers – Terry Jones (Hulk “Terry” Hogan) and The Great Muta (Red Dragon) being the most obvious picks. They each have their own unique strikes, grapples, and balances of speed and power, and all feel quite different from one another to play.
The focus of the matches tends to be the grappling system. When you or your opponent initiates a grapple, you have to bash buttons to get your power bar as high as possible. If you filled it more than,your opponent, you then input a move command using a combination of joystick directions and the A or B button, but even if you win the grapple, you have to be careful about the move you pick. If your enemy hasn’t been sufficiently weakened, they’ll easily reverse your more powerful moves. It’s pretty damned frantic.
You have to fight your way through ten matches to become the ultimate champion, and there is some variety between these. Most take place in the traditional ring setting, but you also will fight in no-holds-barred events in a parking lot and a warehouse (where you can use weapons, destroy property, or even pick up bystanders to use as weapons!), and in deathmatches wherein you fight surrounded by electrified ropes. It’s all pretty intense.
And it plays quite well, overall, but it has been criticized over the years for being too difficult. I’d have to agree there – the systems are simple and easy to work with, but the CPU is relentless, even when set to easy. The grappling system is the biggest victim of that – unless you’re very careful in how you set yourself up, youll get power bombed through the floor endlessly. I played this a lot on my Neo Geo CD way back, and it took a very long time to become any good at it. I still wouldn’t say I’m good at it – the CPU wipes the floor with me on hard – but I made sure that I was at least well-practiced enough to go through normal without losing a fight.
I didn’t mind the difficulty too much once I got used to it, but what really made all the practice enjoyable was the presentation. The characters look great, even if their massive sizes do highlight the fairly limited animation, and they each have all sorts of cool little incidental movements that make them feel more alive than they do in, say, WWF Royal Rumble. The backgrounds also look great, with lots of detail put into the crowds, the cameraman, and the rings themselves. The sound is as big and as in your face as the visuals, with a lot of catchy sample-laden tunes and voice work at play. The fully voiced announcer always impressed me too, especially during the fight introductions.
3 Count Bout certainly won’t be everyone’s cuppa, but for those of you that aren’t afraid of a challenge and love SNK’s classic style, this is a very good time.
No cheats were used during the recording of this video.
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