It looks like one of my all-time favorite franchises is being revived and brought to modern consoles. Fire Pro Wrestling, which has seen iterations on the Super Nintendo, PlayStation, Saturn, Dreamcast, TurboGrafx 16, Game Boy Advance, and the PlayStation 2, will bring its timing-based grappling system to the Xbox Live Arcade. Sadly, if early details hold up, it will lose everything that made the series fun, unique, and almost infinitely engrossing.
Fire Pro is known for its 2D graphics, complex grappling system, and extremely deep characer customization. Fire Pro Wrestling, the tentative title of the Xbox Live version, will eschew 2D grapplers for 3D Avatars, removing the ability to create custom wrestlers. In an interview with Kotaku, when asked about Avatars replacing custom characters, Microsoft Game Studios Vice President Phil Spencer stated the following, "Our plan is that it is just Avatars," adding, "I guess there is the possibility for us to do celebrity Avatars if we wanted to."
Half the fun of the Fire Pro series has always been creating new wrestlers and recreating existing ones. Without this huge part of the game, I see no reason to bother with the game. The series has always come with tons of pre-built fighters who were just slightly different from real-world American, Asian, and Mexican fighters, but now, we’ll have no choice but to play as our own Avatars.
There are days where I still spend hours at a time creating new characters for Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for the PS2, and the prospect of doing so on the 360, with HD visuals, had me elated. Now, I couldn’t care less, and neither will any other Fire Pro fan.