On March 11th the highly anticipated video game WWE 2K22 was released. This is 2K's first major wrestling game release since the critically slammed WWE 2K20 which was released in late 2019.
2K have used their ensuring time very well, taking the time to develop a brand new wrestling game that takes advantage of the capabilities of the current generation of gaming consoles, with vast improvements to the game's graphics and gameplay that is in depth for the hardcore gamer but also approachable for the first timer or casual gamer.
So what does this have to do with The Phantom? I hear you ask...
Well this year's cover superstar is Rey Mysterio, a 30+ year veteran who has been a mainstay of the major wrestling promotions since the mid- 90s. Rey is often credited with popularising the Mexican style of wrestling, Lucha Libre, for a world wide audience. An important and popular element of Lucha Libre is the wrestler's mask.
The mask defines a wrestler's identity and assists them in creating their persona so that they can stand out from the crowd. This feature was explored by Tony De Paul in his Mexico's Phantom storyline from 2011-2012.
Over his career Rey has often incorporated popular culture references into his mask and costume. One of these first references was at WCW's 1997 Halloween Havoc where Rey battled Eddie Guerrero in a Mask vs Cruiserweight Title Match. His costume for this match was influenced heavily by the recently released Phantom movie starring Billy Zane.
WWE 2K22 has a number of different game modes, but a mainstay for a number of years has been Showcase mode, where players get to take the role of the cover superstar and play through important matches and moments from the wrestler's career.
For this year's showcase, players begin Rey's career with his 1997 Halloween Havoc match in the full Phantom kit, and it looks superb!
Another feature of the 2K series of wrestling games is the ability to create your own superstar.
With The Phantom costume featuring in the game, upon a successful completion of the opening Showcase match, as well as meeting all of the match's objectives, you then get access to the costume in the creation suite!
Over the years there have often been a plethora of superhero and pop culture characters that the creator community have shared with others, but creations of our purple clad hero have been noticeably lacking. Now with Rey's Phantom costume being available, this may give creators a decent head start in creating their own Phantom wrestler to take on the big bodied bruisers of the WWE on their own Road to Wrestlemania.
This is not the first time that Rey's Phantom kit has appeared in a video game, with the costume being an optional attire in 1998's WCW vs NWO Revenge game on the N64.
So are you part of the niche group of phans who are also into watching professional wrestling and playing video games?
Will WWE 2K22 make it into your video game library? Does the prospect of having 'Phantom" style options get you excited to try your hand in the Creation Suite? We'd love to see what you come up with!
(Here is 4 mins of gameplay of the Halloween Havoc Showcase match featuring the Phantom inspired attire)