Seemingly out of nowhere, Agetec announced Fire Pro Wrestling for the Playstation 2, which is part of a series developed by Spike in Japan. Actually, Fire Pro goes further back with its origins on PC-Engine care of the now closed Human Entertainment. Fire Pro and its fictional cast of wrestlers have been around for a long time and Fire Pro Wrestling is the latest edition of it. To find out more about the game and it’s localization I spoke to Hiro Fukuoka, the producer of Fire Pro Wrestling Returns.
How long has Agetec been pushing to bring Fire Pro Wrestling Returns to the USA?
HF: We’ve been trying to get this particular version released in the States for a while now. We contacted SPIKE and we were told that it had wanted the Fire Pro Wrestling series to be published in the U.S. for a long time. So we got it!
How did it feel when SCEA gave you the greenlight? Did you celebrate by cracking open bottles of champagne?
We’re delighted to bring this title to the U.S.
I'm psyched that you guys got the approval, but I'm cautiously optimistic. Sure, Fire Pro Wrestling has its fanbase, but what about Joe gamer who loves shiny HD graphics and the WWE games. How can you convince him to try out Fire Pro Wrestling?
You’re right in that there’re some gamers out there that won’t like Fire Pro no matter what simply because of its appearance. However, we think a lot of people will change their tune quickly once they play it. The fluid gameplay and customization options just can’t be topped. It’s easy to play and extremely fun!
Did you look at BAM! Entertainment’s Fire Pro Wrestling GBA games? What did you think of them?
We did and we knew it would be a fun game even on handheld ‘cause it’s Fire Pro!
How is the localization going so far? What is the most difficult part of it?
It’s going well and the most difficult part is getting the names of all the moves. As we’ll talk about more in detail later, we have to think up some of the move names because all wrestlers in this game are fictional, so some moves have made-up names.
Speaking of that what are some of the move names you came up with and what is your favorite one?
In a lot of cases, we had to shorten move names because their English translations wouldn’t fit in the text box, so we had to get creative in how to abbreviate the names. For example, Super Delayed Sheer-Drop Brain Buster will become Del Ver Brainbuster. It’s the best we could do given our limitations, but I like these translations because if you didn’t know any better you’d think you were performing a Brainbuster made famous by a wrestler named Del Ver.
Fire Pro Wrestling isn't going to be "American-ized" like Raw Danger right? No all blonde wrestlers?
Haha, no. Some have blonde hair, but all the wrestlers will appear as they did in the Japanese version. If you want all blonde wrestlers, we’ll leave it to you to edit everyone.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Fire Pro Wrestling series have mock ups of other wrestlers? How is Agetec handling copyright issues? Are any characters getting the axe?
Yes, the series has always had parodies of wrestlers, and Fire Pro Wrestling Returns is no exception. All wrestlers are fictional, it doesn’t use the character’s exact name, but they may look familiar. Everything is fine since it is a parody, and no characters are getting the axe from the US version.
Speaking of content changes is Agetec planning on adding any content to the US release?
I’d like to say yes, but there’re all the necessary elements already in the game, and Fire Pro is all about the player adding content. In a way, it reminds us of our Fighter Maker and RPG Maker games. The tools are all there to create whatever wrestlers, referees, matches, belts and logos you can think of. It’s like Wrestling Maker!
How does the make-a-wrestler mode work?
Wow, that's a complicated question simply because it's so deep. I could explain the entire process and options, but that would likely fill up pages on your site. Instead, I'll say that you start with a basic body type and have the option to adjust everything from there – and I mean everything. Height, weight, hair style, hair color, facial hair, mask, clothes, patterns on the clothes, pads, boots, move options from every position, fighting style, attributes, taunts…everything!
When Fire Pro comes to stores this holiday season how much is it going to cost?
We're not entirely sure quite yet, but rest assured that we're going to make it as affordable as possible. We think it's important that every wrestling fan check this series out, and the best way to encourage that is with a low price.
This might be a long shot, but is there any chance Agetec will pick up Spike's other wrestling games like the King of Colosseum series or the older Fire Pro Wrestling Z?
In this case it’s all up to the fans. If Fire Pro Wrestling Returns does well, then there’s certainly a chance for Spike’s other wrestling games to appear on these shores.