The main mode in Fire Pro Wrestling 2 is called the ironman road, and its setup should be familiar to anyone who's played a wrestling or sports game. Each of the three difficulty levels offers a grouping of assorted matches: single, tag, deathmatch, gruesome, or handicap. You have to win one group to move on to the next, but your stamina carries over from one match to the next. Opponents increase in skill as you win matches, and each successful win against a new character unlocks him or her for use in all game modes. Progress is recorded to a battery backup, so you don't have to finish the ironman road in one sitting.
Illegal moves are OK in the deathmatch ring.
Besides the ironman road, there are two other significant game options. The first is the exhibition mode, in which you can set up a custom match and select from any of the various match types, ring locations, and referees, as well as set more than a dozen different parameters. The exhibition mode supports multiplayer play, so up to four players can participate. You can also set it so that the CPU battles itself, which comes in handy for testing your creations from the edit mode.
The edit mode is the other major game option in Fire Pro Wrestling 2, and it's the one you'll probably find yourself addicted to once you get used to all the many hundreds of settings and variables. Fire Pro Wrestling 2 has easily the most comprehensive and diverse create-a-wrestler mode found in any wrestling game. Not only can you select from a variety of body types, fighting styles, and basic skills, but you can also draw from the more than 1,200 available moves and organize the behavior that the character will exhibit when controlled by the CPU. There are 77 available slots for storing your custom creations.
Unfortunately, while all of the above are traits of a great game, they're actually not that far removed from the options found in the first Fire Pro Wrestling. The edit mode is basically identical, save for the fact that there are a few extra moves and more heads for female wrestlers. The ironman road effectively replaces the tournament and survival events from the first game, but there isn't a corresponding replacement for the league and audience matches that were somewhat complex but also quite challenging and fun. If you manage to complete all levels of the ironman road, you'll unlock a 10-person battle royal in which up to four characters fight in the ring at once and fallen fighters are replaced with fresh challengers.
You really can put yourself into the game.
Although the modes in Fire Pro Wrestling 2 seem geared toward a broader audience than the first game, fans of the original Fire Pro Wrestling should find themselves with a lot to do between unlocking wrestlers in the ironman road and updating their old custom wrestlers into the new game. In the interest of total disclosure, however, you should know that the Japanese version of Fire Pro Wrestling 2, called Final Fire Pro Wrestling, had a diverse role-playing mode called management of the ring. In this mode, you could form custom federations, advertise your matches, hire freelance wrestlers, and set up events against competing federations from all over the world. This mode was the most significant enhancement Final Fire Pro Wrestling made to the original Fire Pro Wrestling, and it is totally absent in the US version of Fire Pro Wrestling 2.
If you already own the first game, Fire Pro Wrestling 2 may not offer enough new features to warrant an upgrade. On the other hand, if you've never tried the Fire Pro series and you're someone who enjoys fighting or wrestling games, you really owe it to yourself to experience Fire Pro Wrestling 2. It may not have recognizable wrestlers or an official license, but it is easily the best wrestling or fighting game currently available for the Game Boy Advance.
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