What new gameplay is in the SmackDown vs Raw 2006 game for Playstation 2? What goodies await discovering? SLAM! Wrestling caught up with a THQ designer to get the lowdown.

Sharing his thoughts with SLAM! Wrestling’s game guru Jon Waldman is Bryan Williams, a designer with THQ, worked on the highly-anticipated SmackDown vs. Raw 2006 game for Playstation 2.

SLAM! Wrestling: Why did you choose to go with SmackDown vs. Raw 2006 for the title, as opposed to a brand new name like past games?
Bryan Williams: A majority, if not all, of annual sports titles have years affixed to their titles. The SmackDown! series is the pre-eminent, annualized WWE sports title on the market, and we wanted to stress that sentiment with WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2006.

SLAM! Wrestling: What is the biggest change to gameplay this year?
Bryan Williams: The debut of the new stamina meter is arguably the biggest game play change made this year. In our continued efforts to produce the most compelling WWE action this side of actual programming, players will now have to manage the stamina of their selected Superstars during matches. Performing high impact moves, strikes and running around the ring will tire Superstars out to the point of exhaustion. In order to regain stamina, press and hold the Select button when the opportunity presents itself. Personally, I love the inclusion of the stamina meter, as it provides an added element of depth and strategy to the grappling mechanic.

SLAM! Wrestling: Aside from “main roster” wrestlers, are there additional playable characters (e.g. announcers, the McMahons)?
Bryan Williams: No. All of the playable characters on the roster are actual WWE Superstars.

SLAM! Wrestling: what match types are being added this year? Have there been any eliminated?
Bryan Williams: Three new match types have been added to the game this year.

The all-new Bar Brawl Match has been added to our stable of backstage brawl areas. Superstars will compete inside of a WWE themed sports bar, complete with a robust amount of environmental interaction and littered with brand new weapons.

The Fulfill Your Fantasy Match is another new match type featuring the lovely WWE Divas. Once players have selected their Divas, they will be given the option of choosing their attire. Choices include School Girl, French Maid and Nurse costumes. Once those selections have been made and the match begins, the first player who is able to fill his or her Diva’s Fantasy Meter will be awarded the victor. Disrobing, spanking and hitting the opposing Diva with a giant pillow will help to fill the Fantasy Meter of a selected Diva.

Lastly, there is the all-new Buried Alive Match. As its name implies, the only way to walk away from this match is to stuff the opponent inside of a casket, close the lid and bury him. The Buried Alive Match begins inside of the ring, but in order to pull out the victory, players will have to drag the opponent to the casket stationed near the top of the entrance ramp and stuff him inside. Once inside, players will have to use the right analog stick to close the lid on their opponent. However, opponents can block the close attempt so players should definitely stay on their toes.

SLAM! Wrestling: Will the WWE Shop area be returning this year? what kind of purchases and other unlockables can gamers expect?
Bryan Williams: The Shop Zone will indeed be making a return in WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2006. However, players will have to visit the Shop Zone themselves to find out what type of unlockable goodies will be up for sale. I don’t want to ruin any surprises.