NetherRealm Studios Needs Another Shot at a WWE Game
For all of the rumors & hints coming out, fans still don’t know what NetherRealm Studios’ next major project is. Several leaks & hints from Ed Boon have implied that it could be Mortal Kombat 12, but the possibility of an Injustice 3 can’t be ruled out. On top of that, the existence of a Marvel fighting game from NetherRealm Studios, or even a Marvel vs. DC title, has yet to be proven. With Ed Boon stating on Twitter that he will not be presenting anything at the 2022 Game Awards, it seems that the NRS community will be waiting a while for the studio’s next title.
They won’t be left high & dry in the meantime, however. A surprise announcement for the mobile game Mortal Kombat: Onslaught came a few months ago, & some limited public tests have already begun. Even so, the game separates itself from past NetherRealm Studios mobile efforts by being a strategic action-RPG instead of a simple fighting game. Mortal Kombat: Onslaught & its unique cinematic approach is bringing a lot to the table, but a small contingent of fans may prefer seeing more done with a certain other NRS mobile title. Many either forgot or missed its short shelf life, but the Mortal Kombat & Injustice developer once made a WWE fighting game — & the concept deserves another shot.
Despite Its Mobile Trappings, WWE Immortals Held Promise
At the beginning of 2015, NetherRealm Studios, in conjunction with Phosphor Game Studios & its usual publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, released WWE Immortals. This mobile title was a paired down fighting game similar to the mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us. The two games were almost identical, consisting of 3v3 2D fighting gameplay with simple touch controls facilitated by collectible cards & various other resources. WWE Immortals’ promo art for its titular Immortal Superstars even resembles the shiny geared-up designs used to promote Injustice 2.
While the premise of WWE Immortals was simple, it was compelling nonetheless. Bray Wyatt & The Authority gained access to a mysterious dark lantern that tore open a hole in reality, causing versions of WWE’s iconic roster to pour in from across the multiverse. Many wrestlers take on forms referencing their gimmicks, ranging from Kane as a literal demon to Roman Reigns as a Roman Centurion. Despite its simplicity & microtransaction-filled nature, WWE Immortals proved to be an enjoyable fanservice-filled romp. It was shut down in early 2019, but its more fantastical elements & resemblance to a 2D fighting game are both traits worth bringing back.
NetherRealm Studios Could Breathe New Life Into Wrestling Games
The game industry is no stranger to wrestling games, often taking the form of hybrids between 3D arena fighters & sports games. Stamina & pins are commonly used instead of hit points, & modes ranging from special matches to management simulators can be present. Most wrestling games aren’t played competitively, but some have managed to gain recognition as alternative fighting games. Aki Corporation’s Def Jam, Kinnikuman, & WWF titles are famous instances of this. Some older wrestling titles achieved the same by imitating 2D fighting elements, such as WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game & the Capcom-developed Saturday Night Slam Masters series. With all of these frequently placed on “best wrestling game” lists, the genre crossover evidently has merits.
Even though it’s been a few years since WWE Immortals went offline, the ideas it had are still ripe for a new attempt. NetherRealm Studios remains the ideal developer to adapt wrestling to a 2D fighting game form, & springing for consoles this time would work wonders. Featuring wrestlers using special powers based on their ring personas, the game would be a surefire hit for wrestling & fighting game fans alike. It would also be able to benefit from NetherRealm Studios’ famous cinematic singleplayer, which would mesh with wrestling’s backroom drama perfectly. While it probably won’t happen any time soon, the tag-team duo of WWE & NetherRealm Studios is too strong to keep apart forever.
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