Reviewed in 2012 by Tibe

DUMB & DUMBER

by Tibe

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For sure, wrestling is an activity which doesn't have the reputation of being a particularly cerebral. Many braves among us might have one day felt a bit stupid when finding themselves - by chance or voluntarily - watching a wrestling match on TV, with their mouths wide open and staring eyes. So imagine how you might feel when playing 3 Count Bout on the Neo Geo: a 'simulation' of this 'sport' which has nonetheless the merit to be fully in the spirit of its model, since it's all about - in short - violently smashing buttons on the stick without using a single parcel of your brain at any time. This may sound a bit moking to introduce a game like that, so let's be fair with this title by taking a closer look at this SNK realization, also known as Fire Suplex in other latitudes. 

A magnificent slap from "The Red Dragon".
A magnificent slap from "The Red Dragon".

The action takes place in three-dimensional arenas, meaning that we can move in the depth of the stage, which involves a pretty different gameplay than in a conventional versus fighting game. So here, the jump is assigned to a button (C), while A triggers a punch, B a kick, and D can perform a 'down' when you're close to the grounded opponent, provoke or make a change when playing a tag battle. Fighters can dash, get out of the ring, get on the third string to perform attacks, execute special moves and jumped moves, pick up weapons, break parts of the stage too... Of course, each character has also a good range of wrestling moves, which can be triggered during melee: there, you only have to hit buttons as soon as possible to get advantage, then execute the combination of your choice. Now, be aware that against the CPU, you won't be able to do it often... and it have me coming to the main flaw of the game: its difficulty. You know, grappling moves are the nerve center of any game of wrestling... so it's essential for our 3 Count Bout to offer a good close-range attacks system, isn't it?

Dhals... heu, "Gandhara, has more than one trick in his sleeve...
Dhals... heu, "Gandhara, has more than one trick in his sleeve...

Oh rest assured, there's nothing wrong about the controls here: the gauge system proper to the game and the combinations are very well thought! The problem is that the machine leaves you almost no chance to place your techniques. Her domination is random, uh well , not really in fact: at the beginning of the fight, she will allow you to perform a bunch of wrestling moves... but beware, not to the point of letting you win the match! Once you take a little advantage, it will then no longer lose any melee duel. All you can do is try to find "cheating" techniques to win... but anyway, this wastes almost all the fun of playing. You can play versus or even on tag battles (2 human vs 2 cpu) with a friend. These modes are what the game have best: the action is fun and fairly complete, and in this configuration we appreciate better the grappling system of 3 Count Bout. This is still a little stiff, not super accurate, and the gameplay is all about smashing like a madman on the buttons... but hey, let's recognize you can have some good time playing with a friend who loves smashing your 100$ arcade stick. 
Submissions, 3-count, ring-out... the ways to victory are multiple!
Submissions, 3-count, ring-out... the ways to victory are multiple!

When you try the single player championship, the feelings are not without reminding King of the Monsters 2: a clever mix of frustration, annoyance and suicidal tendencies. With ten characters playing virtually all the same way and four stages consisting of two rings and two street scenes, one hour is fairly enough to see almost everything about the game. Finally, note that the realization of 3 Count Bout is remarkable: graphics are beautiful, with backgrounds and characters skillfully drawn; the soundtrack is worthy of a television broadcast, with clear and powerful voices, accompanied by hard rock musics and punchy sound effects. The animation is provides a decent number of animation steps for the characters, no more, no less. All this is unfortunately not enough to forget the intrinsic defects of the game: fighters that are not very varied or interesting to play, approximate accuracy, atrocious difficulty. Once again, a beautiful game is not necessarily a good game.


GRAPHICS

84%

Beautiful backgrounds with a nice relief, big characters very well drawn, but... the stage are too few - only four for the ten contestants - and players could quickly get bored turning around.
ANIMATION 71%
Nothing to report here, the game is rather dynamic and the decomposition of the wrestler's moves is average.
SOUND 89%
Soundtrack is undeniably what 3 Count Bout have best: themes, effects and voices are amazing.
REPLAY VALUE 54%
Ten wrestlers are available, but all have pretty much the same moves. Versus with friends are fun, but in single mode, the difficulty is shocking and the results when performing grapples totally random.
GAMEPLAY 58%
Punches, kicks, throws, dash, submissions... Basics of a good wrestling games are there in 3CB, but the game is imprecise, not very fun... and against CPU, it's simply a nightmare!

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

59%
A wrestling game featuring a good realization, a fun -althought limited - versus and cooperative play, but it's totally unplayable against the CPU because of its incredible difficulty.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Less than forty euros usually but anyway, 3 Count Bout is rather uninteresting. If you really need a wrestling game on Neo Geo, pick King of the Monsters instead, which is much more fun and original!

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