For New Players

Where should I start?
For new players, we recommend "Mission Mode." You can learn the controls of the game and as well as button timings when going into a grapple.
When do I dish out my moves?
When the wrestlers get close enough to each other, they will automatically grapple each other.
If you watch closely when you link/grab your opponent, then it's your time to strike!
What are the controls?
Please see the online manual for a more in depth look at the controls.

Network

What is FPW NET?
FPW NET is where you can upload your own custom wrestlers and download even more wrestlers created by people all over the world.
Why can't I join online matches or connect to FPW NET?
To join online matches and connect to FPW NET, you must be connceted to the PlayStation™Network.
Why isn't FPW NET showing up in my game?
After you update the game with the Day 1 patch, the FPW NET menu will appear. Please go into your PS4™'s network settings and ensure you are connected to the internet.
How do I update the game with the Day 1 patch?
All patches will automatically install if you are connected to the internet. You will not be able to access online mode without the Day 1 patch, specifically.
Why aren't the custom wrestlers I subscribed to on FPW NET in my roster?
After subscribing to a custom wrestler, you must restart your game.
Hold down the PS button, close the application, and restart the game.
When at the Main Menu, go to Edit Mode > Team Edit > Transfer Wrestler. At the bottom, under Unregistered Wrestlers, you can check the wrestlers you are subscribed to.
What is the difference between "Pro Wrestling" and "Cement" in online matches?
"Pro Wrestling" is when you want to put on an entertaining match, win or lose.
"Cement" is when you are playing purely to win.
Select the style that fits your fighting philosophy.

What's Included

Which wrestlers appear in the game?
The original SWA wrestlers and NJPW wrestlers from the official NJPW collaboration appear in the game.
If there are collaborations you'd like to see featured in the game, let us know by sending us an email at contact@spike-chunsoft.com!
What are the in-game voices like?
Most of the voices for the NJPW wrestlers have been newly recorded. *There are some wrestlers that have not been recorded.
What about the entrance music for each wrestler?
The official entrance music for most NJPW wrestler is included in the game. *You will be able to customize this in a future update.
Why isn't wrestler "XX" in the game???
NJPW's Junior Heavyweight wrestlers will appear in future DLC! Specifics will be announced at a later date.
We are working on bringing more fan favorite wrestlers into the ring! Please look forward to an announcement in the future.
What is in the PS4™ Season Pass?
The PS4™ Season Pass offers three DLCs: the Fire Promoter DLC, Fighting Road: 2017 NJPW Junior Heavyweight Championship DLC, and an additional scenario (more info TBA). Get all three for a discounted price with the PS4™ Season Pass!

Differences Between Versions

What are the differences between the PS4™ and Steam® versions?
The PS4™ version has an updated UI and the NJPW wrestlers have already been added to the roster. The Steam® version will receive the UI update for free, but the NJPW wrestlers can only be obtained through the DLC.
Does Mission Mode need to be beaten again even if I've already cleared it on the Steam® version?
We have implemented a command to clear all the missions in Mission Mode. In the Main Menu, hold down the R1, L1, and △ buttons, then press the R3 button (right stick). If done correctly, a confirmation sound will play.
When will the NJPW wrestlers DLC be available for the Steam® version?
We are scheduled to release the NJPW wreslters DLC in September 2018. We thank you for your patience and understanding.



This interview is from 2017, right before the game launched in Early Access, which ended at the end of 2017.


Drinking & Talking Fire Pro with Director Matsumoto!

The director of Fire Pro Wrestling World (Fire Pro W), Tomoaki Matsumoto, drinks with other Fire Pro-loving guests and talks about the game in this segment. For the commemorative first match, Takashi Kobayashi (ZEX) and Toshiaki Tamura (ZEX), the development producer and development director of FPW, join the fray. The talk gets heated as the key members of the development team appear right off the bat!

Takashi Kobayashi
Development Producer/Director
Worked on Fire Pro Wrestling Z on PlayStation®2 as the development director/lead planner, and on Fire Pro Wrestling Returns as the development producer. Also worked on the mobile game version as the development director/lead planner.

Toshiaki Tamura
Development Director/Lead Planner
Worked on Fire Pro 3 Legend Bout for PC as part of the graphics team after joining Human Corporation, and later worked on Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special, Super Fire Pro Wrestling: Queen's Special, and Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium for SNES, as well as Fire Pro Wrestling S for Sega Saturn as the lead for the graphics team. Appointed as the lead planner and also worked on graphics for Fire Pro Wrestling G on PlayStation and Fire Pro Wrestling D on Dreamcast. Worked as the sub planner for Fire Pro Wrestling Z on PlayStation®2 and as development director/lead planner for Fire Pro Wrestling Returns.

Tomoyuki Matsumoto
Executive Director
Dove into the gaming industry because he wanted to make Fire Pro games. Worked on the scenario and project planning for Fire Pro Wrestling G. Later got involved in the development for the Wonderswan version and other pro wrestling games. He thoroughly exhibits his love for Fire Pro in his hallmark title, Kenka Bancho.


The Road to Fire Pro's Revival

――
For our first interview, we have the development team for Fire Pro Wrestling World (referred to as "Fire Pro World" hereafter) here with us today. Fire Pro is back after 12 years, but could you give us details on how this came to be?
Matsumoto
I guess because we love Fire Pro. [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
――
Have talks about making a new Fire Pro game been under discussion for a long time now?
Matsumoto
We've been talking about it forever. I've submitted proposals for Fire Pro about five times since I joined Spike Chunsoft eight or nine years ago. During those times, Kobayashi helped me with the financial side of things like figuring out how much it would cost to make.
Kobayashi
Ever since we finished Fire Pro Returns (2005, referred to as "Returns" hereafter), discussions about making a new game would come up and fall off practically every year. It's been a long road.
Matsumoto
Yes, it has. Fire Pro proposals would come up every year around spring, so it became known as a seasonal tradition within the company. [laughs]
――
Were you given a reason when the proposals didn't go through?
Matsumoto
They didn't give any specifics, but I believe it was simply a matter of whether or not it would be profitable enough. We are a business after all, so even though the management side also loves Fire Pro, it may have been difficult for them to give the green light.
――
But after nine years, the project got approved on the fifth try. What do you think was the deciding factor for receiving the go-ahead?
Matsumoto
The growing size of the Steam market was definitely a major factor. The market became big enough for the company to see its potential, which made us more willing to give it a try.
――
So instead of the PlayStation®4, it was originally planned to release only for Steam?
Matsumoto
That's correct. But I told them, "No no, there are fans in the console market waiting for Fire Pro too!" So they shot back, "Can we do it?!" [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
――
Was everyone happy when the project got approved?
Matsumoto
Absolutely! But above all, I was surprised by the company's bold spirit when they gave the approval. I was moved, really. The Steam market may be growing, but no one knows what will happen or if Japanese players will even get on board. I have to say, it takes real courage to give the green light in these circumstances as Mr. Sakurai (*1) did. I respect that.
*1: Mitsutoshi Sakurai, CEO of Spike Chunsoft
Kobayashi
I was actually still a bit skeptical when I first heard the project was approved. [laughs]
Matsumoto
They've been tricking us, claiming, "We'll do it, we'll do it," for about nine years, after all.
Everyone
[laughs]
Kobayashi
But once we realized that we were really going through with it, there were cheers of joy in the office. Everyone was shouting, "Can we do it?!" [laughs]

Tamura's Participation Was an Unexpected Miracle

――
The first Fire Pro in 12 years is a pretty big deal, but the fact that so many of the previous Fire Pro team members came together again is incredible too.
Matsumoto
It's quite a miracle. When we first started planning out the project, Tamura was working on something completely different.
Tamura
That's right. When Matsumoto and Kobayashi first talked to me about it, I had to refuse because I was too busy with other work. After a few months had passed, I thought the project might have been shot down again... [laughs]
Matsumoto
But this time, it was different. [laughs]
Tamura
After a while, they approached me again and asked me to help because the project seemed like it would actually take off. It just so happened that the contract for my other job was ending around that time. So if the project started when they first brought it up, I actually wouldn't have been able to participate.
Kobayashi
The timing was perfect.
Tamura
Being the tenth Fire Pro title, this will be a commemorative game for me on a personal level too. For 12 years, I was disappointed that it was ending on the ninth title, so I'm thrilled to be involved not just to help, but as part of the main team. Although I did have to cancel my vacation plans. [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
It was good timing for us to bring this up during his contract renewal period. See, a normal person would have just renewed their contract, but he was foolish enough to say, "Fire Pro? I'll do it!" And I mean that as a compliment. [laughs] I was impressed.
Tamura
The other party was asking me to renew my contract, so I had to apologize profusely. [laughs] But they knew I had worked on Fire Pro, so they understood and gave me their blessing.
――
So it was an amicable transfer, as they say in pro wrestling.
Tamura
Exactly! Although cases like this are rare.
Matsumoto
That's all the more reason for us to keep it going. We can't let it end with one. There's still much to be done, and we're hoping you can help.
Tamura
I'll do my best. [laughs]
――
It's exciting to see people band together because of their passion for Fire Pro. Like it's destiny or something.
Matsumoto
It really is. This time, it feels like we were meant to make this game. With Fire Pro Wrestling G (1999), Tamura was the main planner and I was working under him, so he's like a mentor to me. Our positions are different this time, but Tamura is at the core of the project again, so I feel like he can just work his magic if I ask him for help with anything.
Tamura
I don't know about that. [laughs]
――
Were you worried about not being able to put a team together even if the project was approved?
Matsumoto
At first, we were all fired up about whether or not we'd even be able to make a new title. But once we got approval, it hit me and I thought, "Oh crap, will we even have a team?" [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
But people did join in the end, so I'm glad it worked out.

The Difficulties and Effects of Development

――
The hardware is a lot different now since there's been a 12-year gap in development. For the consumer, it skipped a generation from PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 4. So I imagine you faced many issues since starting development, right?
Tamura
The graphical side of things was a big hurdle, as you might expect. Since the conception stage of development, we've known that we wanted to preserve and express that familiar Fire Pro look from previous games. But our resources from Returns were unusable because of problems with resolution size.
Matsumoto
If we used them as is, they would have looked like nothing more than small, weird-looking lines. [laughs]
Tamura
Back then, whenever there was a change in resolution size, we would just make the sprites four times bigger and clean them up a bit. But these days, the resolution size is on a different level from when we were using sprite art, so we couldn't really draw things by hand anymore. The methods we've been using are no longer viable. So we thought of enlarging the art and putting a filter over it, but that doesn't come out quite right either.
Matsumoto
Simply enlarging the art would make jagged parts stand out too much, and using a filter to hide those parts would make them look too blurry.
Tamura
Even when using a program to adjust the filter, we would run into issues like weird lines appearing unexpectedly. So we do have some room for improvement when it comes to working on the presentation.
――
But at this point, the quality is already shaping up to make me think, "Now this is Fire Pro." It's back after 12 long years, and it's just oozing with that Fire Pro feel. I'm sure you've been getting a lot of feedback from players.
Matsumoto
Oh yes, a lot.
Kobayashi
Yes, we've been getting great responses from all over the world.
Tamura
It made us truly happy to see that.
Matsumoto
We've also been getting questions basically every day from overseas fans. But I don't understand English, so Google Translate has been working at full capacity.
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
But when I use Google Translate, the Japanese gets messed up and I don't understand what they're trying to say. So I communicate with them by asking Dave (*2) to translate, then tell him what I want to say in Japanese for him to translate back to English.
*2: David Kracker, Community Manager of Spike Chunsoft

Lasting Impressions from Player Feedback

――
Out of all the comments you've received since announcing Fire Pro World, are there any that left an impression on you?
Kobayashi
So many people have told us, "I've been waiting for this."
Tamura
There were also many comments from people that played Fire Pro a long time ago, and they're glad to see it come back, which made me very happy. It was a different time back then, but I had the impression that we didn't get much feedback from our players when we made Returns.
Matsumoto
Social media wasn't a thing back then either.
Tamura
We could look at specific message boards or see what people wrote on their personal websites, but that was the extent of it. These days, you can run into all sorts of feedback while just casually browsing. It's amazing to see just how many people have something to say about Fire Pro.
Matsumoto
Right after we made the announcement, a lot of people said, "Thank you for bringing it back." But we're the ones that should be thanking them for waiting all this time. But then, after a little while, they started saying, "I want this" and "I want that." And I just thought, "Here we go." [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Kobayashi
For the previous Fire Pro games, the only place for players to interact with the community was 2chan. And rumors like "that wrestler is going to get added" or "that move will be included" would start going around even if we hadn't announced anything.
Tamura
This happens often on the Internet, but when someone posts something based on speculation, it would often get reposted as a fact. We were sweating nervously as we watched those threads. [laughs]
Kobayashi
After a game release, we would get complaints like, "You said that move would be in the game!" And we would think, "We never said that!" [laughs] This was a common issue before, but these days we see what fans are eagerly hoping for and take it as encouragement.
Matsumoto
We're able to get feedback directly from the players, and we want to know what they want, regardless of whether or not we can implement them.
Kobayashi
Sometimes, we would see a comment and think, "I thought they might ask for that."
――
It would be nice if you could tell them that it's in the game, but just not announced yet.
Tamura
A lot of times I would think, "Yes, I understand, but...!" or "I thought the same thing!" [laughs]

What's the Current Development Status?

――
I understand that when developing games, master builds need to be approved before the deadline. Back then, you couldn't just release an update post-release, so once a game was made, everything was final. So I'm sure there were plenty of times where you would think, "If only we could do that." Fire Pro World will be your chance to throw in 12 years worth of ideas you wished you could have added since Returns.
Matsumoto
That's true. I really wish...we had another 10 million yen.
Everyone
[laughs]
Kobayashi
That would be nice. [laughs]
Matsumoto
Now there are things like crowdfunding too. If we had another 10 million, we could add things like left-right asymmetric designs. In any case, there are many things we would like to do, so I hope it sells well.
――
So before the game is actually released, early access (*3) [ed. note: only for Steam version] will be available starting 7/10.
*3: A game that is available for purchase/download while under development.
Matsumoto
It's coming up soon. Is it going to be okay?
Kobayashi
You're asking us? [laughs]
Tamura
I guess so. [laughs] I can't say there aren't any issues to work out, but we're working as hard as we can.
――
This will be the incomplete version, so I hope the players can enjoy it for what it is and give feedback based on their experiences.
Matsumoto
Yes, we would definitely like to hear from our players. We won't just simply hear what they have to say, but we're willing and prepared to implement their feedback. So please, bring on your suggestions! When we see an idea online and think, "This sounds fun," we take notes and try to make it a reality.
――
So development has been moving along smoothly then?
Kobayashi
...You could say that. [laughs]
Tamura
We'll do our best. [laughs]

Edit Mode Improved!

――
The game is still in early access, but special rules like Deathmatch are playable, and the Edit Mode has been implemented too. It seems like you can get a lot of play time out of it already.
Matsumoto
Yes, I think so too.
Kobayashi
With this version, we've revised the things about Edit Mode that have been unpopular with our players since Returns.
Tamura
You mentioned changing the resolution size earlier, but to add to that, I hear the palette system no longer exists as a mechanism.
Matsumoto
One of the reasons for that is the Steam version isn't a console.
Tamura
There's no mechanism that lets you go, "This part is drawn with four colors, so I can change the color scheme or gradient by adjusting the color of the four cells." This is actually a big deal. So this time, we used the color picker to choose things like the hue and brightness of the gradient colors for each part.
Matsumoto
But with this method alone, we weren't able to add multiple colors on one part.
Tamura
That's when we decided to divide each part into smaller pieces. Like, with the lightning bolt design for tights, the green lines and the color-filled parts are separate. So you can do things like combine it with a flame design and make some funky patterns.
Matsumoto
Previously, we could make more advanced patterns; for example, by changing one of the colors of a black gradient to red or blue. But this time, we're able to create multiple smaller parts and layer them to form a design.
――
Sounds like there's a lot to play with in Edit Mode too.
Tamura
You can use up to nine layers to create a design, and each part can have up to nine layers as well.
Kobayashi
I think people who enjoy customizing things will thoroughly enjoy the new Edit Mode.
Matsumoto
You can use nine layers for pants alone, so you can make some pretty crazy things. [laughs]
――
Players may have a hard time starting a match with so much to do in Edit Mode. [laughs]

Matsumoto's Take on Fire Pro World's Points of Interest

――
The latest Fire Pro will be available for early access starting 7/10, but is there anything you'd like the players to pay attention to in particular?
Matsumoto
That would be the Online Mode, one of the main selling points of this release. You could only play with friends in the same room before, but now you can play with complete strangers. It may not be an MMA match, but I think it will be tense and exciting like a match against another organization. We're looking forward to seeing how players will react to this play mode being offered for the first time in the series.
――
Online matches are competitions against unknown enemies, after all.
Matsumoto
Exactly. You have to sort of read each other to determine if you'll be playing for showmanship in "pro wrestling style" or go for the win in "cement style" too. We did include an option to choose the playstyle between pro wrestling and cement, but everyone wants to win in the end, right? [laughs]
――
Yes, like when your opponent suddenly gets serious about countering your moves near the end of the match. [laughs]
Matsumoto
I'm interested to see how many people will appreciate the art of selling a move and have an attitude like, "I may have lost, but that was a great match!" And I myself am very good at Fire Pro, so there's a part of me that would like to run into players that are better than me.
――
I'm sure there are a lot of players that are confident in their skills.
Matsumoto
There are probably people out there that are stronger than me, so I'd like to play against them with cement rules. The ability to play against people all over the world is one of the great things about this title.

Tamura's Take on Fire Pro World's Points of Interest

――
What are the points of interest for you, Mr. Tamura?
Tamura
I'd like people to pay attention to the graphics. We did have some difficulties with the resolution size in regards to wrestlers, but we've been able to work on the backgrounds without worrying about resolution size. We've been making them in 3D like most other games, so it looks far better than previous Fire Pro games. That, and the ring entrances.
――
Ring entrances are one of the most iconic parts of pro wrestling.
Tamura
With the ring entrances for Returns, we just matched the wrestler's movements to the movies as they played. But this time, you can see them enter the actual arena that will be used for the match. Not only is there a pathway leading to the ring, but there's an actual entrance and stage where the wrestler will appear, with special effects like fireworks. The staff is working hard to make it look good, so I hope players will watch them at least once.
――
I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of improvement for the entrance scenes too.
Tamura
I do hope everyone enjoys them. If possible, I would like to add many more fine details.
Matsumoto
You aren't going to mention the robes?
Tamura
Can we can talk about that? [laughs]
Matsumoto
Go ahead!
――
I'd love to hear it.
Tamura
We weren't able to include it this time due to cost restraints, but we talked about adding robe parts. If we were to make various patterns to be used in a match, it would be too difficult to implement for all of the possible movements. But if we were to add it for entrances only, we could just make it as a single piece for the whole body, so it might be possible. We did have these ideas planned out, but there were too many other things that we needed to prioritize.
――
If there are enough players supporting the game, maybe that could be added later on.
Matsumoto
We've been getting more and more ideas all the time. There's always one thing or another that we need or want to add.
Kobayashi
It's not in 3D, so things like armor would be hard to add. [laughs]
Matsumoto
But in my opinion, the difficulties that come with it and the fact that it's not in 3D are all a part of Fire Pro. I'm not saying this as an excuse, but if it's too "proper," it just wouldn't be the same. It's a game from the golden age of 2D, so I think that's an essential part that we can't just abandon. We should also make entrance scenes unskippable instead of just hoping people will watch them at least once. [pause] Wait, why did it get so quiet? Did I say something I shouldn't have? [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Kobayashi
But really, we'll do our best.
Matsumoto
As long as it sells, the sky's the limit.

Kobayashi's Take on Fire Pro World's Points of Interest

――
Now, Mr. Kobayashi, please share your highlights on this title.
Kobayashi
The game is releasing on Steam and PlayStation®4 this time. It may not seem like there are major differences from the previous Fire Pro games at first glance, but the hardware is quite different from the last game, so programming it was completely different.
――
I was actually very surprised when I first heard that.
Kobayashi
We had to start everything from scratch again, so our programmers have been working very hard. You could say it's thanks to this that we were able to add new elements that haven't been in previous Fire Pro games. ...Oh, is this supposed to be kept off the record?
Matsumoto
...Oh, I'm sorry... I was in the middle of eating a sausage. What were you saying?
Everyone
[laughs]
Kobayashi
I was talking about the new movements that will be included in Fire Pro.
Matsumoto
We already announced new movements like ring slides, rope escapes, and strike contests, so it's all right.
Kobayashi
There's also that thing we're working on that caused the debacle during development.
Matsumoto
Ah, the blood effects. That was only mentioned briefly at the previous presentation.
Kobayashi
We were able to somewhat implement blood effects, but there was so much blood that it turned into a scene of a massacre.
Everyone
[laughs]
――
Like Hiroshi Hase in his match against Great Muta. [laughs]
Kobayashi
Tamura also mentioned this earlier, but the arena was renewed too. Players can now enjoy brawls, and not just at the ringside or pathway to the ring, but at the stage as well.
――
Can we fight in the audience seats too?
Kobayashi
Not yet, unfortunately.
Matsumoto
That's what I want to add more than anything right now! We put in the effort to make the spectators out of wrestler parts, too, so it would be great if we could throw them around.
Kobayashi
I don't think we have the funds for that... [laughs]
Matsumoto
How much would it cost to add spectator-throwing again?
Kobayashi
About 10 million yen, I think.
Everyone
[laughs]
――
You don't see spectators getting thrown around often in pro wrestling either. [laughs]
Matsumoto
A long time ago on "Pro Wrestling News," which was hosted by Akira Fukuzawa, they aired a scene where Stan Hansen hit an audience member with a lariat and made him do a backflip. [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
Ever since I saw that, I thought, "I want that in Fire Pro!" I'm still really hoping that can be added in the game.
Kobayashi
I'm not sure if we'll be able do that, but I would like to add more things that can be done outside of the ring. Also, we actually changed all of the music. It's really cool.
Matsumoto
It's definitely awesome this time around.
Kobayashi
There aren't too many tracks, but the quality is so good that I'd like to make a CD and listen to it all the time. I can't wait for our fans to hear them.
Matsumoto
We should make a soundtrack.
Kobayashi
The signature Fire Pro theme song sounds even cooler now and the BGM for matches got modernized, so that's another thing that everyone can look forward to.

A Message for the Players

――
Online content available for the first time, improved graphics, programming made from the ground up, and brand new BGM—there are so many exciting things coming up!
Matsumoto
Really, I couldn't get through all of them if I tried. Not without getting more drinks in me, anyway. [laughs]
Tamura
In my position, I would get in trouble if I promise something careless and you hold me to it. [laughs]
――
[laughs] And finally, do you have a message for all the fans that are eagerly waiting for the new Fire Pro?
Tamura
This is the first Fire Pro in 12 years, and after being stuck on the ninth title of the series for so long, the tenth Fire Pro is a major milestone for me on a personal level. To tell you the truth, I feel like I'm happier than anyone else about this, and everyone on the development team has been very excited for its return. I hope all of our beloved fans can share this excitement with us as they play the game and pass it on to as many people as possible.
Kobayashi
It's been a very long 12 years. If the sales for this Fire Pro increase even a little, our dream plans like making the robe parts we talked about earlier might start to seem more realistic. So we would love for our fans to purchase the game, play it, and send their feedback to Spike Chunsoft. Fire Pro's journey doesn't end here.
Matsumoto
I like that: "Fire Pro's journey doesn't end here." We plan to continue working on this title along with the fans that have been patiently waiting for 12 years, so we encourage the players to participate. Please, help us make this new Fire Pro the best Fire Pro it can be.
――
So you'd like the players to join the process instead of just waiting?
Matsumoto
Yes, bring it on! Or as we like to say, "Can we do it?!" [laughs]
――
That's a great way to wrap this up. [laughs] Thank you very much!

Drinking & Talking Fire Pro with Director Matsumoto!

The director of Fire Pro Wrestling World (Fire Pro W), Tomoyuki Matsumoto, drinks with other Fire Pro-loving guests and talks about the game in this segment. For the second match, Takashi Tokita from Square Enix and Daizo Nonaka from Capcom join the fray representing all Fire Pro-loving game creators!

Tomoyuki Matsumoto
Executive Director
Dove into the game industry because he wanted to make Fire Pro games. Worked on the scenario and project planning for Fire Pro Wrestling G. Later became involved in the development for the Wonderswan version and other pro wrestling games. He thoroughly exhibits his love for Fire Pro in his hallmark title, Kenka Bancho.

Takashi Tokita
Square Enix 8th Division Senior Manager/Producer
Joined Square (currently Square Enix) in 1985. Worked on various acclaimed titles, such as Final Fantasy, Live A Live, and Hanjuku Hero.

His latest titles are:

Hanjuku Hero: Sekai yo Hanjuku Nare...!!
http://www.jp.square-enix.com/hanjuku_hero/
(iOS/Android)

Final Fantasy Dimensions II
http://www.jp.square-enix.com/FFL2/jp/
(iOS/Android)

Daizo Nonaka
Capcom 4th Development Team Producer
Joined Capcom in 2011. Produced games such as Sengoku Basara Sanada Yukimura-den and the Gaist Crusher series. Also the producer for Megami Meguri, http://www.capcom.co.jp/megami/ (Nintendo DS), which linked transportation IC cards and games for the first time in the video game industry.

His latest title is:

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2
http://www.capcom.co.jp/RCC/2/

Fire Pro and Wrestling Lives

――
Welcome to part two of the Fire Pro Wrestling World ("Fire Pro World" hereafter) anniversary project, "Drinking and Talking Fire Pro!" Joining us today are two Fire Pro lovers in the gaming industry, Mr. Tokita from Square Enix and Mr. Nonaka from Capcom. I'd like to get right to it and ask the both of you to talk about your Fire Pro lives.
Tokita
I think I played it the most during the PC Engine and SNES eras. I did watch a bit of pro wrestling while I was in elementary school, but began watching it less around the time I was in middle school. I did, however, start watching more matches on TV since I started playing Fire Pro, which was right around the time Chousedaigun (Intergeneration Army) and Toukon Sanjushi (The Three Musketeers) were becoming more popular.
――
It sounds like Fire Pro re-ignited your passion for pro wrestling.
Tokita
It really did. Ever since then, I started going out to see different pro wrestling promotions with my coworkers every month. Things got really crazy during the conflict between UWF International and NJPW, and I went out and bought about 20 tickets for our group. I remember the salesperson excitedly shouting, "Thank you very much!!" [laughs] I was doing back-to-back all-nighters from debugging Seiken Densetsu, but I went straight out to buy them without getting any sleep. [laughs] After that, I got really into wrestlers like Liger and Junior, and eventually ended up buying a full body costume (*1). [laughs]
*1: Tokita has previously spectated a pro wrestling match at the Tokyo Dome wearing Liger's mask and a full body suit.
――
So you're in quite deep, then. [laughs] How about you, Mr. Nonaka?
Nonaka
I'd like to start with my gaming life, which began with the NES. From there, I actually went to PC Engine instead of the SNES because I liked the hardware better.
Tokita
You mean for the porn?
Nonaka
No, that's not why. [laughs] I wanted to play the arcade shooting games that were going to come out on PC Engine, like R-Type and Dragon Spirit. I've heard that there are a total of 666 titles for PC Engine and I currently have 333, so I own exactly half of all the titles released on that system. [laughs] Fire Pro was one of the many titles I bought back then, and I actually got into wrestling through Fire Pro.
――
You didn't watch pro wrestling before that?
Nonaka
I had seen it on TV occasionally, though I wasn't really much into it yet. But I was having a lot of fun playing Fire Pro, and started thinking about the wrestlers those characters were based off of. I started thinking, "Oh, this wrestler is based off of that guy. So this other guy must be that wrestler!" That's how I became much more interested in actual pro wrestling.
Matsumoto
So your path was a bit different from others.

Nonaka Brings His Cherished Fire Pro Game!

Nonaka
Since we were going to talk about Fire Pro World today, I actually brought my copy of Fire Pro for PC Engine. I think this is the Fire Pro game that I feel the greatest emotional attachment to.
[Mr. Nonaka brought various PC Engine titles of the original Fire Pro series, such as: Fire Pro Wrestling Combination Tag; Fire Pro Wrestling 2nd Bout (Fire Pro 2nd hereafter); Fire Pro Wrestling 3 Legend Bout; and Fire Pro Joshi Dome Choujo Taisen: Zenjo vs JWP. He also brought the Fire Pro booklet with Great Muta on the cover, as well as the strategy guide, to the excitement of the discussion group.]
Tokita
Wow, these really take me back.
Nonaka
I really played the games like crazy back then. I also spent so much time with Edit Mode when it was added in Fire Pro 3. Mr. Tokita, were you the type to make realistic characters, or did you let your imagination run wild?
Tokita
I was actually more in the realistic camp. I made wrestlers that weren't on the roster, like Liger from year XX, or Liger from the Seishin Kaikan battle. [laughs]
Nonaka
That's impressive. [laughs] Like you, I was more interested in making realistic characters. But I would get bored of just remaking actual wrestlers and eventually started making a "what if series." "What if Tsuruta joined Vale Tudo Japan?" "What if Hiro Saito was 180cm tall?" "What if Chono had a stronger neck?" [laughs]
Matsumoto
I'd say that's impressive too. [laughs] A lot of people set up dream matches with wrestlers from different promotion groups, but your "what if" scenarios are in a whole other league.
Nonaka
I played so many dream matches that I eventually ended up making all these scenarios. Vale Tudo Tsuruta was just amazing. He would knock his opponents down to their hands and knees with a Hammer Punch, get behind them, then scoop them up for a back drop KO.
Tokita
You made the ideal version of Tsuruta.
Nonaka
Yes, it was basically Tsuruta's final form.
Tokita
We all played against each other at the company back then, and there was one younger employee that would make really outlandish designs. He made a completely purple Evangelion Unit-01 character, and would only have it scream and choke people when he was pissed off. [laughs]
Nonaka
That's incredible. [laughs] Speaking of outlandish, there were some moe head parts, too. And even things like bear and kappa parts.
Tokita
Oh right, there was even a realistic version and a stuffed animal version.
Matsumoto
The bear and kappa parts are in Fire Pro World too. [laughs]

Square Enix's Legendary (?) "Tiger Rule"

――
Mr. Tokita, did you play in any unique ways like Mr. Nonaka's "what if series"?
Tokita
I didn't make this personally, but there was this well-regarded rule in the company I was working for at the time. We would play Fire Pro during our break time, and of course, Victory Musashi was the most popular character. So we played a "Victory Musashi Match" where everyone played as Musashi, and only the winner was allowed to use him from then on.
Matsumoto
So you sealed him away? [laughs]
Tokita
After that, we made something called the "Tiger Rule."
Nonaka
Everyone plays as Tiger Mask?
Tokita
No, it meant that whoever lost to Tiger Jeet Singh could only play as Tiger Jeet Singh.
Everyone
[laughs]
Nonaka
You meant that Tiger? [laughs]
Tokita
One of the guys that got stuck playing as Tiger Jeet Singh actually ended up liking him as he kept playing. [laughs]
Matsumoto
He really does have some cool moves, like the German Suplex.
Tokita
He had the Tiger Suplex as a hidden move, too.
Nonaka
Ohh, hidden moves! I remember those. That really takes me back.
Tokita
Speaking of Fire Pro stories, I had my son, who's in second grade, play Fire Pro at home the other day, and he really seemed to like the brawls outside the ring. A lot of games on smartphones these days have arbitrary time limits, but Fire Pro can be played without those limits, and the game is all about freedom in general.
Nonaka
I've even made up my own ways to play, like, "Let's see how far I can get before the 20 count is up." I would run into some bizarre discoveries like, "I can walk in here, too?" [laughs]
Tokita
He was laughing out loud and having such a great time, like it was the best game he'd ever played. Everyone starts watching pro wrestling for different reasons, you know? I'd love to take my son to see a match some time soon.
Matsumoto
I'm sure he would love seeing it in person. There's nothing like the atmosphere of attending a live match.

Pro Wrestling That's Only Possible in Video Games

――
Are there any features in Fire Pro World that have left an impression on you?
Tokita
I remember "Criticals" were introduced around Super Fire Pro Wrestling X's release. I was playing a four-way battle royale with some coworkers, and I was using Liger, as usual. My opponents were Volk Han, Fujiwara, and Takada, and they all just took turns repeatedly doing armbars on me. [laughs] I kept mashing the directional buttons, but eventually my arms just snapped.
Nonaka
It always makes me think, "Damn, he got me!" when I see that "Critical!" pop up. But you can still keep fighting even after that happens.
Matsumoto
As long as the referee doesn't notice. [laughs]
Tokita
Yes, even when both your arms are dangling like noodles and you clearly can't fight anymore. [laughs]
Nonaka
There's also the "breathing" system.
Matsumoto
Yes, the system that makes your wrestler run out of breath if they use moves that don't match their style too many times. There are divided opinions about it, but it's implemented in Fire Pro World as well.
Nonaka
Instead of immediately going in for an aerial attack after throwing the opponent out of the ring, I would take a quick breath and then hit them with a La Quebrada. You had to constantly manage your breathing when playing against someone.
Tokita
They just stand there with that same pose, right? [laughs] This isn't related to features, but the story was something else, too. Especially with Fire Pro Wrestling Special, the story was just brimming with Goichi Suda's (Suda51) personality. [laughs]
Nonaka
I love that the last boss is a traditional style pro wrestler instead of shoot style.
Matsumoto
People always mention the story mode when Fire Pro is brought up. That mode was great.
Tokita
It had such an "all-star" feel to it, with potential that was only possible in a video game.
Nonaka
That's true, since interpromotional matches weren't a thing back then. I don't quite remember which Fire Pro it was, but there was a time when the demo matches were quite outstanding. Instead of something you'd expect like Victory Musashi versus Hurricane Rikimaru, there were highly anticipated cards of the era like Nixon Stacie versus Nobuhisa Sanada. I was surprised that they would go that far.

Fire Pro Is an RPG

――
What's the reason you like Fire Pro the most out of all the wrestling games out there?
Tokita
Playing Fire Pro is like role-playing. It allows you to turn all your crazy ideas into reality.
Matsumoto
That's a good line. "Fire Pro is an RPG." I'd like to tweet that right now. [laughs]
Tokita
I used to say Fire Pro is a simulation game because it lets you simulate all these varied situations. But really, you're playing the role of the wrestlers themselves.
Nonaka
It changed the common idea of "all you need to do is win" by creating a new notion of trying to win as beautifully as possible. Like when you're playing as Star Bison, you can't just bust out the Western Lariat out of nowhere. You need to strike the pose before you let it rip.
Tokita
That's why it made things all the more exciting when you could get the audience to react. There was a guy in our company that only played to win, and I lectured him saying, "You don't understand pro wrestling." [laughs]
Nonaka
Yeah, like a Fighter Yamato that would just keep using dropkicks over and over. I would get mad and tell him, "You're ruining the most exciting part!" [laughs]
Matsumoto
You can play online matches with the new Fire Pro World, but players have been debating this same exact thing on the internet. The community seems to be split between going for the win or playing out a good match.
Tokita
You'll end up losing if you're too particular about giving a performance, though, like I usually do. [laughs] Competitive gamers, or people who just don't want to lose in general, just run at you and repeatedly hit you with Western Lariats as Bison.
Nonaka
They keep throwing out body slams, too.
Tokita
They don't understand that this isn't that kind of game.
Nonaka
I love that it's not just about winning, but having fun portraying the characters as well.

Real Sponsorship System in Fire Pro?

――
Fire Pro World is currently in early access, but it's been greatly improving with every update, hasn't it?
Matsumoto
Yes, the game has been constantly evolving with all these new features. The Ring Edit Mode allows you to change the mat design, and you can now freely move your character during their ring entrance, as well add your own custom entrance song. But the biggest change from before is that you can share your Edit Wrestlers with others in the Workshop.
Nonaka
It's incredible that you can use wrestlers made by other creators.
Tokita
You could make a complete roster just from other players' characters.
――
Designs made in Ring Edit Mode can be shared as well. I even remember seeing someone's uploaded design with Mr. Matsumoto's face in the center of the ring.
Matsumoto
That's a bit embarassing, but also pretty flattering. [laughs] There are a lot of talented Ring Edit content creators that have even replicated things like sponsor logos. You can find everything from a pure white mat to mats from just about every era of wrestling.
Nonaka
Very cool. You might as well get some real sponsors and put them in the game at this point.
Matsumoto
That's not a bad idea.
Tokita
I'll put in an application from Square Enix. If that doesn't work, I'll use my own pocket money. [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
――
You added your logo as a sponsor on the original Ebessan's (currently known as Kikutaro) costume, too, didn't you?
Tokita
Yes, back when we were working on Hanjuku Hero 4. But really, a sponsorship system like in Tiger & Bunny (*2) would be very interesting.
*2: In the anime Tiger & Bunny, superheroes promote their sponsors by wearing costumes featuring company logos.
Matsumoto
That may actually be a possibility. [laughs]

The Good Thing About Early Access Is That Everything Is Done Live

――
Fire Pro World is the first early access title by Spike Chunsoft. What are your thoughts on it after trying it out?
Matsumoto
It's been very fun. There's nothing like getting feedback directly from our players and providing them with what they want.
Nonaka
It's much better than simply releasing it without any further updates. Players can share their thoughts knowing certain issues will be fixed in the future, too.
Tokita
There are many different games in many different genres these days, from old classics to free-to-play games with quite a bit of money put into making them. Everyone chooses to play what they like from all these options, so I think it's nice to be able to make a game with people you like from the onset. It feels like everything is done live, you know?
Matsumoto
It really does. For example, there was a time when people figured out the upcoming move list before we were even able to implement them all. They would be like, "So you're going to add this move next then, right?" and then we would delibarately add a move that's not on the list instead. It's fun to play this little game of cat-and-mouse with the players.
Nonaka
There were fads for certain moves, too, like when everyone and their mother were using cutter moves. [laughs]
Tokita
"Shining" moves were also extremely popular for a while, with all sorts of variations coming out of the woodwork.
――
The character select screen was quite laggy in the early phases, but it was greatly improved. Was this a result of listening to player feedback as well?
Matsumoto
The developers did plan to fix it eventually, but UI issues tend to get pushed back for later. We do try to work on things that players are most vocal about though, so that was definitely a factor as well.
Tokita
The creators have prior knowledge of what will be fixed down the road, but these issues may worry those who aren't privvy to this sort of information and spend a lot of time playing the game.
Matsumoto
It's a PC game, so the specs can affect the performance as well. Even if it runs smoothly on the high spec PC we used for debugging, it could end up very laggy on a five-year-old laptop. This is one of the reasons we decided to resolve the lagging issue sooner rather than later.
Nonaka
What are the minimum PC specs you plan to support?
Matsumoto
We'd like it to be playable even on a laptop from seven or eight years ago.
Nonaka
That's pretty far back.
Matsumoto
Some of the people playing Fire Pro are in their 30s, but most of them tend to be in their 40s or 50s. This is why we want to make sure you don't need the latest specs to play the game.
――
Do you know when the game's early access will end?
Matsumoto
We can't give a specific date yet, but we have discussed the end date internally. Though I wish we could keep it going forever. [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
We added new behavior routines for the AI prioritization logic the other day and sure enough, it created all sorts of bugs. But we only have a limited amount of time to work with, so we can't afford to halt progression just because something may go wrong.
Tokita
It's nice you communicate that with your players instead of hiding the issues altogether. I think it's important to be transparent and really listen closely to your userbase these days.
――
The new AI behavior did cause some bugs, but the new logic patterns made it so the CPU can strike a pose before dishing out a lariat like we discussed earlier, so the players have been excited about that.
Matsumoto
Although our players get very vocal when a bug occurs, we get plenty of "likes" when we post an announcement stating that we will release a patch later in the week. [laughs]
Nonaka
Sounds like you've got quite the love-hate relationship going on. [laughs]

Big Things Planned for the Future, but Details Can't Be Disclosed Yet

――
By the way, I'm sure there are many out there hoping for some new information to be released with this article. Is there anything you can tell us?
Matsumoto
I'm sorry to say, but there's nothing we can publicly disclose at this time. We do have plans to ■■■■■■■■ with ■■■■■■■■ and implement things like ■■■■■■■■ and ■■■■■■■■ , but please keep that off the record.
Nonaka
Really?! That's amazing! It's a shame I probably can't publish any of that, though. [laughs]
Tokita
Wow! I guess you'll just have to censor it in the article. [laughs]
Matsumoto
We can't give out the details just yet, but we do have future plans along with a big reveal that's sure to make our playerbase happy, so please look forward to it.
――
This is my first time hearing what the "big reveal" actually is, but I honestly didn't expect that at all.
Matsumoto
This plan to make a new Fire Pro sort of had to get forced into action in the first place. We couldn't just make something that wouldn't turn a profit for the company. If that turns out to be the case, this could very well be the last installment of the series, so we want to make sure we present the best Fire Pro game possible.
Nonaka
Now I'm getting emotional...
Tokita
But you still can't reveval anything?
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
Also, this isn't exactly about Fire Pro, but we met up with some of the people from TAKAYAMANIA, a foundation that helps support injured wrestler Yoshihiro Takayama. Mr. Sakurai, our CEO, wishes to contribute to the foundation in some way, so that's been in the works as well. There have been many unfortunate injuries for wrestlers in 2017, but Takayama's case was particularly brutal.
Tokita
He contributed so much to the world of pro wrestling. He was involved in basically everything.
Matsumoto
He even supported the industry through a proverbial ice age, so we'd like to support him as much as we can.
Nonaka
I personally believe he will come back some day.
Tokita
I feel the same way.
Matsumoto
They say that pro wrestlers are incredibly resillient when it comes to recovering from their injuries. Besides, this is The Emperor we're talking about. I believe in him as well.
――
Now, Director Matsumoto, we're running short on time, so please give us a closing statement.
Matsumoto
Fire Pro is a big franchise with nearly 30 years of history, so we understand our fans have high expectations for it. We mentioned this when we first announced Fire Pro World at GDC in San Fransisco, but we're not going to make a title that would put Masato Masuda's Fire Pro to shame. This statement doesn't get enough attention, so please focus on this more. [laughs]
Everyone
[laughs]
Matsumoto
Fire Pro is a title that came to fruition through the efforts of various creators like Masuda and Suda, and it still perseveres today. This is a hefty responsibility for me; but I will do my best to present a new and improved Fire Pro that the players can embrace while stayinig true to the roots of this legendary game, so its history can continue to live on. We have plans like the one I mentioned off-the-record earlier to keep evolving Fire Pro while maintaining the spirit of the series.
――
I'm looking forward to it! Thank you so much for today!
Everyone
Thank you!