That mysterious WCW game for the NES that was never released how now been digitally uploaded by the Video Game History Foundation. While we’re not sure if this game will be made available to the public at any point through an official means, this process does ensure that the game will be preserved in a more accessible and sustainable format.
The Video Game History Foundation have even gone so far as to add upload a video of their full playthrough of the game, which goes to show just how much work was done on this title before it was seemingly cancelled. This only adds to the mystery of why it was never officially completed and released.
This game was first discovered by a YouTuber known as Archon 1981 who uncovered the previously lost wrestling game for the NES that would have been based on the very early days of WCW. He states that he acquired a copy of this game from a former Nintendo employee who tested the title even though it was never released or formally announced.
Understanding the full significance of this game requires you to understand the historical context of its development. First off, the game (developed by SETA) was supposedly going to be called UWC. What’s fascinating about that title is that it doesn’t really make any sense. During the time this game was seemingly in development (around ’88 or ’89), Jim Crockett Promotions was formally being re-branded as WCW.
However, this game doesn’t feature the Jim Crockett name, the WCW brand, or even the name of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). That seems to suggest that development of this game started during a brief window when Ted Turner considered re-branding JCP as the Universal Wrestling Corporation. That window was so small, though, that we’re not sure why the name was never changed.
The roster of wrestlers included in this copy of the game is also quite strange. It features big name wrestlers like The Road Warriors, Sting, and Ric Flair, but the remaining names on the roster’s list of eight playable wrestlers includes more obscure performers like Bobby Eaton, Jimmy Garvin, Barry Windham, and seemingly Stan Lane (though there is a bit of debate regarding the identity of the last performer).
In and of itself, the game is fairly simple. While it does feature the revolutionary ability to select a wrestler’s moveset, everything else about the title is pretty standard. You can wrestle in a singles match, a tag match, or as part of an elimination tournament that sees you take on every other wrestler in the game. It’s about what you’d expect from a wrestling game from this era.
What’s fascinating about this project is why it exists in the first place and why it was never released. It looked relatively competent, fairly far along, and the name could have always been changed to reflect the WCW branding. It’s odd that Ted Turner and WCW would seemingly contact SETA to make this game so early in the development process and then decide to walk away without ever even announcing the project.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.