With over 25 million copies of the WWE SmackDown series sold, it was only going to be a matter of time before the franchise made its way over to DS. In fact, there were rumours last year that WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2007 was in development for Nintendo's handheld.
While talking to us about this year's edition, Tony Sharma, THQ's WWE creative manager, was quick to point out that was never the case. And he did so sternly. So we swiftly moved on to our other questions…
Pocket Gamer: Why did you decide to go for a fully touchscreen/stylus approach to the gameplay for the DS version?
Tony Sharma: We wanted to take advantage of the unique opportunities that the DS provides. Going with a totally touchscreen-based interface gave us the chance to give WWE fans a totally new way to play. They get to make the motions representing the onscreen action, letting them get more into the WWE experience than ever before.
In other DS games, gesture or symbol recognition hasn't always worked robustly, so how have to tried to ensure things will be different?
The controls are very forgiving and the inputs are intuitive. It won't take long for someone to get comfortable playing and the system reads input very well. The experience will always be crisp and responsive.
How does the move selection work?
Different types of Superstars will have different moves. You won't, for instance, ever see Rey Mysterio doing a powerbomb, but you will see some acrobatic moves. In most situations in the game each player has three options, and both the attacker and the defender always have moves available to them. This keeps the game action-packed and flowing.
How many wrestlers will feature in the game and how have you attempted to bring their rivalries and characters into play?
We have 21 playable Superstars. We also have three completely separate storylines ï¿½ one for ECW, RAW and SmackDown. When playing as a Superstar, the dialogue will match how the Superstar speaks and acts.
How many modes will there be and should we expect any special extras or mini-games?
We have a robust Season mode and each of the storylines covers a full year of WWE action. We've also got three touchscreen-based training mini-games and a variety of match types.
What you can say about the multiplayer modes? Anything via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection?
We'll have multi-cart local wireless this year. You can play through all of the match types and use all of the Superstars in it.
Finally, what do you think is the most impressive thing about the game?
Players will be surprised at how quickly and easily they'll be able to pick up WWE SmackDown vs Raw 2008. The direction we went in may seem a bit odd at first, but once you play it, you'll understand it very quickly. I think even people who aren't really into WWE will find it hard to put it down once they start.
Our thanks to Tony for his time. WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2008 DS is due to be released in the UK on November 9th. And don't forget to check out a video of the action or read our hands-on preview with the game.