If you’re like me, well, your interest in combat sports came hand-in-hand with Japanese pro wrestling. Odds are that you probably aren’t and are scratching your head right now, but stick with me. If you are unaware of the Fire Pro series, Fire Pro is a Japanese 2D wrestling game simulation series that has been around since the late 80’s. They’re actually where legendary weirdo game designer Suda 51 got his start (and he left his dark mark on the series, for sure), and after a twelve year absence, the series is making a return this summer with Fire Pro Wrestling World.
Now, not only are Fire Pro games some of the most unique and incredible experiences for wrestling fans, but starting with Fire Pro D for the Dreamcast, they included MMA, right down to a many-sided cage. MMA and kickboxing stars have been mainstays for quite a while now (of course, they look different and are under goofy fake names), with stars like Peter Aerts, Ernesto Hoost, Andy Hug, Musashi and Sem Schilt as regulars in the games. They even created a mode called “S-1 Rules” which were essentially K-1 rules. That meant that you could set the amount of knockdowns that could happen per round before a TKO was declare and if one of the characters went for a grappling or wrestling move the two characters would initiate a clinch and sorta hug for a few seconds.
Fire Pro Wrestling World will be taking the “Early Access” route to a release, with a planned release of Q2 of this year (meaning this month, most likely) on Steam for the PC. It’ll only include thirty pre-made characters, unlike past games, none of them based on real wrestlers or fighters. MMA modes will be making a return, but the company decided to remove the K-1 rules mode. Now, if there is demand they could change their minds and put the mode back in, but they were quoted in saying that it was no longer popular.
It feels like an understandable choice considering the death of FEG’s K-1 and K-1 Japan’s slow crawl back to prominence. But, it should be noted that K-1 Japan has been putting on incredible shows, has a late-night network television deal in place and is planning a triumphant return to Saitama Super Arena in 2018.