Fire Pro Wrestling is a series that has been receiving a steady stream of new entries since 1989, with the last main title, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, releasing in 2007. Although there was an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive where players could use their Avatars to wrestle, the series pretty much lost its steam, or so it was thought.
After a ten year absence, fans have continued to keep the series alive and continually demand a new Fire Pro title, developed for the current console generation. In March of 2017, their voices were heard, as Spike Chunsoft announced Fire Pro Wrestling World for PlayStation 4 and PC. Fire Pro hosts a cast of unlicensed wrestlers and has them enter the ring for some over-the-top, but strategic wrestling. Players must master a grappling system that requires some time and skill to execute maneuvers.
In order to learn more, DualShockers sat down with director Tomoyuki Matsumoto to discuss what led to the series’s long awaited new entry. Fire Pro Wrestling World has a release window set for July of this year; the PlayStation 4 version doesn’t currently have a release date.
DualShockers: After 10 years, how do you feel to be working a new Fire Pro Wrestling title, Fire Pro Wresting World?
Tomoyuki Matsumoto: It’s a real honor. At the same time it’s a huge burden to shoulder the weight of the series’ history. But I trust in my love for Fire Pro to carry me through.
DS: Ultimately, what did it take for development of Fire Pro Wrestling World to get approved?
TM: We’ve been trying to get a new Fire Pro project off the ground since forever ago. I hate to say it, but at the end of the day, we are a business and the numbers just didn’t add up. It seemed impossible given the size of the console market. But then Steam came along and connected us with the PC audience. Suddenly the dream didn’t seem so crazy.
Our staff who love the series fought for the game, as did the community—especially the community. I couldn’t have won the battle alone.
DS: What do you personally enjoy most about the Fire Pro Wrestling series?
TM: Where do I start… obviously there’s the timing-based grapple system, the deep custom edits and CPU-on-CPU simmed matches. But to me, the greatest appeal is to your imagination. The graphics give you enough information to comprehend the action while leaving you free to fill in the blanks. Of course realistic graphics are great too, but there’s a certain charm that only Fire Pro has.
DS: How important was it to you to keep the original look of the game, when you could have possibly made it more graphically realistic?
TM: Realistic graphics risk crowding out your imagination, and imagining is half the fun of Fire Pro. Also, we wouldn’t want the wrestlers to look too close to their real-world equivalents.
We experimented with Fire Pro-esque polygon models but they didn’t have the same feel so we scrapped the idea.
DS: What did you think about the button-mashing system in Fire Pro Wrestling for Xbox 360 and what made you want to return to the older timing/strategy systems in the early entries?
TM: I had nothing to do with the Xbox 360 game so… I elect to sit this one out!
DS: With online multiplayer being a huge draw for fans of the series, do you have plans to support the game post release?
TM: You can count on it. It’s one of the main reasons we decided to release in Early Access.
DS: What convinced you to you use the early access model on Steam? Also, what type of feedback will you be looking for?
TM: We wanted to share the excitement with the community and get their creative input. Online matches and Steam Workshop are easy ways for anyone to be part of the process. If we can attract a wide enough audience, there’s all sorts of new features I want to implement.
DS: Would you be interested in seeing the game release on other consoles, Xbox One, Switch, or perhaps a handheld like the Vita?
TM: Currently we only have plans for a Steam and PS4 release. With that said, I personally think Fire Pro is a great fit for the Switch.