One of the most popular wrestling game series has made its way to these shores. And it was worth the wait.

Fire Pro Wrestling has been a great game on almost every major platform. FPW-Six Man Scramble for the Sega Saturn is still considered one of the best wrestling games, period. And to further impress you, almost all of them have used raster graphics, not 3-D rendered characters.

So unlike most recent wrestling game ports to the Game Boy, FPW loses nothing in its move to the new Game Boy Advance. In fact, it’s gotten better.

For old-school wrestling games fans, this game is a welcome return to “grapple and button combo” gaming, not the simpler button mashers of today. The game is dripping with technical details that really add to the realism of the game, and add strategy to the game. Moves to one area weaken that area, and reduce the wrestler’s ability to use that part. Fatigue is a factor — if you don’t stop and take a few deep breaths, you get weaker. But watch out, cause you’re a sitting duck while recuperating. You have a choice of four different referees, each with different styles and adherence to the rules. This is not a game to take lightly.

In addition to modes like tag team, lumberjack, Deathmatch (let’s be more specific…the ELECTRIFIED BARBED WIRE, EXPLODING RING Deathmatch) and Battle Royal, there’s a new mode, the “Audience Match” where the crowd decides the winner based on your technique in the match. So for all of you who are annoyed by weenie-movers who win match after match with arm bars and punches, you time has finally come. And for shootfighting fans, an Octagon is available as well.

One of the reasons that FPW has been such a popular game over the years is the seemingly endless list of “grey-market” wrestlers. They don’t have the rights to use the WWF, WCW, or other federations’ wrestlers, but the games are full of wrestlers with names like “Bulkster”, “Cain”, “Silverberg”…you get the idea. This one is no exception. Over 150 (yes, you heard me, more than any three other wrestling games combined) vaguely recognizable wrestlers are available right off the bat. With a little time spent in the impressive edit a wrestler mode, “The bionic man Steve Majors” can become…well, you can imagine. There are already detailed directions for “fixing” the wrestlers on several of the game FAQ sites, and I expect to see a lot more for new wrestlers as they appear.

Up to four players can link up and play each other. You can trade your created wrestlers back and forth as well.

Bam! Entertainment has beaten all the American companies to the punch, and delivered a game that has set the standard for portable wrestling games. Congratulations to them. Now, about an English translation of Six Man Scramble…