WWE Legends of WrestleMania will embrace the leading sports entertainment organization's rich history to relive, rewrite or recreate the definitive elements of WWE from the Eighties and Nineties. Players will relive the entertaining lives of more than 40 larger-than-life Legends and have control over Legendary Managers, each of whom will play crucial roles in match outcomes. The game's new grapple-based fighting system will capture the high-energy action and drama seen in vintage WWE matches, while a historically accurate representation of past WWE telecasts will set the stage, including dynamic visual treatments, signature ring entrances, renowned commentators and notable venues. WWE Legends of WrestleMania will also include a WrestleMania Tour Mode that allows players to participate in key matches from multiple WrestleMania events, a Create-A-Legend system to develop the Legends of tomorrow, as well as online functionality for players to compete on the biggest stages in WWE history.
WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Paul Edwards, and I'm a senior game designer on WWE Legends of Wrestlemania.
WP: The first thing we wanted to ask you about is the roster for the game. Obviously you've got 40 legends, but there are hundreds of legends throughout the history of the WWE. How'd you guys go about deciding who you wanted? How did you decide who made the final cut and who didn't make it into the game?
PE: The way the process works is that on the team creative side, we get together and identify the time period as being Wrestlemanias 1-15, and we basically compiled a list of every single person who had ever wrestled in 1-15, and then we dumped the responsibility onto our legal department to see if they could get all of them. It's not a task that was based in reality, so they come back with the real list of who we can get and who we can't, and for whatever reasons. We took the whole list that they were able to get and found ways to work it into the game.
WP: Were there any guys that you really wanted to see in the game, but didn't make it to the final cut?
PE: Yeah, there were tons. There were the obvious fan favorites, like Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, and some of the more obscure guys from that time period, like The Rockers or The Killer Bees. It's a little disheartening, a little frustrating to not be able to get some of the guys that you wanted in the game, especially when it's beyond your control.
WP: As far as gameplay goes, the major single-player mode in Legends of Wrestlemania is the Wrestlemania Tour mode, which goes through the historical matches. You guys have what you call Relive, Rewrite and Redefine. Can you talk a little bit about what those are, what that's going to mean for players, and what you're going to see when you jump into that mode?
PE: In the Wrestlemania Tour mode, there are Relive, Rewrite and Redefine. In Relive, you actually take on the winner of an iconic match, and there are various gameplay objectives that you have to achieve that'll go toward recreating that match. With Rewrite, you take on the loser of this iconic match, and you're tasked with rewriting history and changing the outcome of the match. With Redefine, it's actually a "what if?" fan fiction take on it, where we take an iconic match and change the match type or change the participants involved. The player is allowed to choose who he wants to be in that match and if he wants a manager, things like that.
WP: Are all of these going to be one-on-one matches, or are there going to be some tag matches thrown in there? Perhaps you'll have some special stipulations on Redefine?
PE: With Redefine, everything is open, so we have 11 match types in the game, and all bets are off, so it could be any number of those. As for Relive and Rewrite, I think the ones that made the cut were all one-on-one matches, just due to some of the roster constraints. One of the matches that we wanted to have in there was from Wrestlemania 1, with Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, Mr. Wonderful and Roddy Piper, but because of roster problems, we couldn't recreate this match. Sadly, most of the tag-team matches from Wrestlemanias 1-15 were based on that, but there's always hope in the future that we can get some of those in there.
WP: You guys are also planning a lot of interaction between this game and Smackdown vs. Raw 2009, so can you talk a little bit about what's going to happen with the rosters and characters and what you have planned for that?
PE: We have a feature that we call the SvR Connectivity feature, where if you have SvR 2009 and you have a copy of Legends, you can import the entire roster from SvR '09 into the game and play them. You can also bring over your created superstars from SvR '09, and they keep all the stats and things that you've built up in your journeys through SvR '09.
WP: That's another thing that we wanted to follow up on, the created characters. You have a special Legend Killer mode for those guys. Can you talk a little bit about what Legend Killer is going to entail?
PE: Legend Killer mode is like a series of arcade-style gauntlet matches, where you're tasked with going through a series of opponents, one after another. Based on how well you do in that, you earn points that you can then apply to your character to progress him to boost his stats or give him better moves.
WP: Probably the biggest change this year for people who played Smackdown vs. Raw is the control system. You guys have gotten away from the "flicking" of the right stick to the face buttons. What made you decide to switch to the more traditional controls over what you've been doing for the past couple of iterations?
PE: Everything with Legends is actually built new from the ground up. It's a different engine, it's a different control scheme, it's a different feel, and it's a different inspiration. We tried to really focus on other wrestling games that were out during this time period of the game and focus on an experience that was sort of nostalgic. I think we struck a good balance. We're not re-creating an old arcade game, but the control scheme takes it to the next level but quite not as far as the simulator area, as in Smackdown vs. Raw.
WP: You talk about a lot of the game being driven by nostalgia and memories of the old days. That's sort of reflected in the characters. A lot of them are more beefed up than how we see them in our mind's eye. How did that process go? Did you start with realistic, true-to-life characters and then realized that they needed bigger biceps?
PE: Early on, we just assumed internally that we would do it just the way we do Smackdown vs. Raw and try to re-create it as lifelike as possible, but our marketing team found through various focus testing that people actually remember them being bigger than they were, so we supplied them with three different versions of Hulk Hogan — one was very lifelike for the time period, one that was a little bit embellished and one that was over-the-top and hyperembellished. Most of the people, like 85 percent of the people, picked the really over-the-top one, and that's just how they remembered it.
It also helps with us to set the game apart from SvR. We were kind of worried that people would look at it and think of it as SvR with different guys in it. We definitely wanted to avoid that, so I think that as soon as you see the game, you realize that it's not a simulator type game. It's got a little lighthearted feel to it, a little bit of exaggeration. It's fun to play.
WP: In addition to the 40 wrestling legends, you've also got four of the historically legendary managers. What was that like, coming up with the idea of the managers? What do they do in the game? How are players going to interact with managers, and who are they?
PE: The managers that we have in the game right now are Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Mr. Fuji, Jimmy Hart and Paul Bearer. The reason why we included these guys in there is that during this time period in wrestling, managers were very influential in the outcome of a match, much more so than they are nowadays. You know, it was not uncommon back them to have somebody getting beat up for 15 to 20 minutes and then have their manager interject and completely change the tide of the battle and then pull off a victory because of that.
So we wanted to make that representative within the gameplay as well, but we also wanted to make it more casual-friendly for the guys who haven't played SvR or have been a little too scared to try because of the control scheme and initial learning curve. The managers actually operate on their own AI system, and they sort of interject when they see fit to help you out, so it's not something that you have to remember to do, so they can actually surprise you. Even your own managers can surprise you when they interfere. There are a couple of interactions that you can force with the managers, like get some health back, but for the most part, they just kind of do their own thing and help you out.
WP: What was your favorite part of working on this game, and what was your least favorite thing?
PE: My favorite thing would be seeing these characters come into the game one by one, and seeing their entrances and their finishers. I got an advance trip down memory lane, but it was really great seeing all that come to life and come together. Definitely the most hated thing was that early on in development, we only had one song in the game, and it was Hulk Hogan's entrance music. It's a great entrance song, but after seven or eight months straight of hearing nothing but that, it can get a little irritating, to say the least, so that was probably the most hated. (laughs)
WWE Legends of WrestleMania, currently in development for X360 and PS3, is scheduled for release in March 2009 to coincide with WrestleMania 25, which will air live on pay-per-view on Sunday, April 5, 2009.
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