Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., a pioneer in WWE game development, enjoyed a decade-long partnership with the wrestling promotion. The company produced numerous games that became commercial successes, selling copies like hotcakes.
Acclaim's press release acknowledged their triumph, stating that retail sales reports for their "WrestleMania" products were phenomenal. Many stores struggled to keep their "WWF WrestleMania" for the Nintendo Entertainment System in stock.
Despite financial success, die-hard wrestling fans wanted better quality Acclaim games. WWF WrestleMania, the first-ever WWF console game, is remembered fondly by old-school fans. However, it featured a roster of only six wrestlers, each possessing the same five moves.
The graphics and music were subpar, even for the 8-bit era. WWF RAW expanded upon its predecessors, offering more match types and moves. However, the roster remained limited, with only 8-12 wrestlers depending on the console.
The character models needed more accuracy, the controls were clunky, and the AI opponents proved overly challenging. The 16-bit graphics were acceptable but could have been improved. Acclaim's most disappointing release was WWF In Your House, which played like a Mortal Kombat game with only ten wrestlers.
The matches were in bizarre locations instead of rings, and the controls were overly simplistic. Acclaim faced financial losses and federal investigations at the time, leaving little resources to devote to the game, resulting in a defective product.
Legends of Wrestling attempted to merge current superstars with old-school wrestlers but needed more execution. Many fans were required to familiarize themselves with the wrestling legends and were uninterested in the game.
The character models resembled action figures, and the controls were unresponsive, hindering gameplay. Legends of Wrestling II fared better on PlayStation 2 but was disastrous on Game Boy Advance. With terrible graphics and numerous bugs, it was Acclaim's lowest-rated game and was nominated for "Worst Game on Game Boy Advance" in 2002.
The trilogy's third installment was average at best, plagued by crashes, glitches, and unpolished AI and controls.
Acclaim's WWE Games: Quality Concerns
Acclaim's significant flaws in their WWE games stemmed from a need for more attention to detail.
Graphics were often pixelated, and controls could have been more convenient. The games were generic, with minimal improvement between iterations. Rival publisher THQ produced superior games for WWE's competitor, WCW. In 1998, Acclaim's WWE license expired, and THQ, having lost its WCW contract, started making WWE games, including the critically acclaimed WWF No Mercy.
Acclaim's decline in quality can be attributed to its financial troubles. The company was on the brink of bankruptcy and often released games hastily to generate revenue, sacrificing quality control. Following their WWE partnership, Acclaim produced games for ECW, both companies soon went under due to mounting debts.