Thursday, September 8, 2011

OH GOD WHY?! Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood

Another week, another installment of OH GOD WHY?!, in which I play the worst games I can find, and then share my rage with you. This week, get your flourescent light bulbs ready, its Backyard Wrestling 2 for the PS2 and XBox.

I am a wrestling fan.  Yup, I said it, and it’s out there now.  Come at me.  I dare you.  In the mid-90s, when WCW was the leading wrestling promotion, they were featured in what was probably my favorite game for my favorite system: WCW vs. nWo Revenge for the Nintendo 64.  That game and its now famous AKI-produced engine captured the feel of the WCW product, from the momentum shifts of the matches, to the high flying of the Mexican luchadores.  It is not a lie to say that WCW Revenge made me the man I am today.  A lonely, lonely man who writes sarcastic freelance articles for a video game blog.
Several other wrestling games were released in the wake of Revenge’s success, including WWF Attitude, Smackdown, and WCW Thunder.  None were able to come close to the experience a wrestling fan got out of Revenge and its sequels; WWF WrestleMania 2000, and WWF No Mercy.  As the millennium approached however, AKI moved on to make the Def Jam games for EA, and the WWF/ WCW games all came to be enveloped into the Smackdown vs Raw line.  That lead to the creation of several lower-tier wrestling games being released in the early and mid 2000s. Such as the travesty that is Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood.
Both of these people have Daddy issues.
For those who don’t know, backyard wrestling is to the WWE what Ke$ha is to Taylor Swift. Mostly similar, but one involves a lot more trailer parks.  Practiced mainly by shitheads, backyard wrestling often involves very little athletics, and relies more on violence, mostly through the generous use of fluorescent light bulbs and barbed wire.  Due to the low barrier of entry, most backyard leagues consist of fat teenage virgins, delusional dropouts, and former pro wrestlers who’ve decided they’d rather be alcoholics.
Backyard Wrestling 2 features members from every color of this shit colored rainbow, including former pros such as New Jack and Sandman, along with such wonderful backyard characters as Masked Horn Dog and El Drunko.  No you’re not wrong, this DOES sound like the worst thing ever.  The roster is surprisingly large, clocking in at 26 playable characters, all of whom look like the kind of person who’d violate and kill you, and probably not in that order.  Among the luminaries you can play as include the likes of quasi celebrities like Andrew W.K., Tera Patrick, and...wait...hold on, I can do this...
Motherfuckin ICP, ninja!  YEAH BOY!
Target Demographic.
That’s right, assholes, you can wrestle as those wicked clowns themselves: Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J.  Come to find out, ICP actually has their own wrestling federation: Juggalo Championship Wrestling. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?  I guess it’s not that big of a surprise to find out there’s a large cross section between Juggalos and wrestling fans.  Hell, I’d go so far as to guess that EVERY Juggalo is a wrestling fan.  This means that ICP and several of the other acts on their Psychopathic Records label have songs on BYW2‘s soundtrack, and let me assure you: they’re all terrible. You’ll be reaching for you volume control within the first two minutes.
The graphical presentation is almost as bad as the soundtrack.  Menus are ugly, and needlessly complicated.  They also feature some of the most grating sound effects I’ve ever heard in a game.  Everytime you accept an option, you hear a 2 second guitar riff that sounds like its being played on Satan’s pubic hair.  Player models are undetailed and boring, and the animations are stiffer than that washcloth in the corner of my shower. You know which one. For the love of God, don’t ever touch it.  You can easily tell which characters are the guys from ICP though, which is all I bet most people who bought this game cared about anyways.    
Once into a match, and selecting which douchebag you’re going to play as, you can choose from one of several different settings for your match. There’s no ring in any of them, so they’re all basically just arenas with different weapons scattered around.  So if you’re going to fight in the “Backyard” arena, expect to find a trash can, a baseball bat and a weed whacker to use against your opponent. A weed whacker. Yup.  Of course, the AI doesn’t really care if you’re holding a weapon, as it will just block every swing you take and then proceed to just punch THROUGH the object your holding and knock you down.
To say the controls in this game are a mess is an understatement.  You could probably just put the controller on the ground, seizure on top of it, and have as good of luck as if you were actually trying.  The wrestlers rarely aim in the correct direction, the punches and kicks frequently clip though one another, and attacks from ledges often result in one guy leaping 30 feet across the screen to connect with the opponent.  There’s 4 different kinds of attacks, but you’re really only here to hit fat rappers with weapons and the game seems to know this.  Almost everything in the environment can be broken into, resulting in more and more weapons. TVs, doghouses, beer bottles, and golf clubs are all at your disposal and it’d probably be a lot of fun to hit people with them in a game better than this.
The characters have very little distinguishing them from one another during gameplay, so it pretty much boils down to what two people would you like to see die, and then hoping that this game is a voodoo doll.  Each asshole has provided voicework for taunts before and after matches, and with the brain power on display here, its little wonder why they’re featured in a game about backyard wrestling.  There’s special finishing moves for each wrestler, I think. They all look the same to me. All the “real” wrestling moves are so exaggerated here that it’s not rare to see a fat slob like Sandman jump 20 feet in the air, suplex a guy, and then do a backflip to finish it off.  It’s wish fullfilment for really shitty wishers.
A career mode is included for people who would want to play this for longer than an hour.  Rest assured, you don’t.  There’s promo videos of the real life wrestlers you can watch in the game, if you’re into the kind of thing. I feel like watching the videos is almost like encouraging these jerks, though so I’d suggest just watching this YouTube video over and over again.  When it comes down to it, backyard wrestling is a dumb thing for dumb people. That means that a videogame of backyard wrestling is a dumb thing for lazy dumb people.  And here I am, paying $6 for it at GameStop this past weekend. Fuck me.

Christopher Linendoll is expensing that $6.99. He can be reached via Twitter, or carrier pigeon.


  1. My favorite part is that you had to buy this in person, and with that $6.99, you also had to hand over your dignity. Hilarious article though!

  2. Ugh! I worked at Gamestop for years, and can honestly say I never sold a single copy of this horrible looking game, but every time we would organize the shelves that game would stare me in the face as if to say buy me! ...but it never happened.

  3. I saw the cover and thought

    "wow, that looks like an ICP reject"

    come to find out it was actually a member. I'm glad I skipped this series over. But then again, I bought Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. The best worst game next to Deadly Premonition.

  4. A gripping wonderfully written blog. Truly a gift for its audience.