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WrestleQuest Review

WrestleQuest Review

Professional wrestling is a pop-culture enigma. A wild mix of soap opera drama with larger-than-life characters, delightfully colourful spandex, and (may the Kayfabe gods forgive me for this) highly choreographed predetermined pseudo-combat sport, these individual elements create something much more than just the sum of its parts. I’m approaching WrestleQuest fresh off my attendance at the AEW All In live Pay-Per-View event at Wembley Stadium, and witnessing such a groundbreaking event has filled me with a renewed love and appreciation of the beautiful art of professional wrestling. It is undoubtedly this same deep-seated love for pro-rassling that developer Mega Cat Studios has tapped during their creation of the pixelated suplex-em-up RPG WrestleQuest.

I’d been excited about this title ever since it was announced, but I actively tried to avoid as much information as I could so that I would be able to go in with no preconceived notions of what to expect. All I had was the name, WrestleQuest, and that it was a pixelated RPG. I anticipated that I might be facing a blend of soft RPG story-telling with turn-based battles for matches, but I still wasn’t entirely certain what to expect when stepping into the ring with this formidable foe. Taking place in a living toy box full of action figures, WrestleQuest uses the flexibility of the setting to establish some crazy characters, as well as fantastical worlds to wrestle in.

The title has you lacing your boots up as Randy “Muchacho Man” Santos — already starting strong with the tributes to beloved legends, in this case, “Macho Man” Randy Savage — a newbie wrestler who appears to have missed the memo about professional wrestlings scripted and predetermined nature, and believes everything to be authentic. Think of him as to how Buzz Lightyear acts in the first Toy Story, sincerely gaslighting himself into believing that fiction is reality. Setting his sights on becoming the cream of the crop, it’s up to us to control Randy on his epic journey, fighting through the many territories and toy boxes ahead of him, from the ECW-inspired hardcore promotion, the family-run Northern Country Wrestling, or even the seemingly generic sci-fi inspired futuristic territory.

Before we get too comfortable with Randy, however, we get torn away from the Muchacho Man to meet Brink Logan, WrestleQuest’s second protagonist. The son of the owner of the previously mentioned Northern Country Wrestling, Brink and his cousin Stag perform as the Honest Bucks tag team, a jobber team whose role in the wrestling stratosphere is to lose in ways that allow their opponents to look strong. Despite being a gifted wrestler and persistent professional, Brink is crestfallen and disillusioned with his position in the pecking order, he intends on earning the respect he deserves.

For a game built on the concept of a “sport” that mostly takes place within the squared circle, there’s a fair bit of exploration to be had around the aforementioned territories. With a fair mix of towns and dungeons, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to sniff for content in. You’ll be able to meet various NPCs who will have their own share of quests and encounters and face enemies that are scattered around the overworld. The lack of a properly functioning world map outside of the barebones compass minimap means that backtracking becomes an almost unbearable chore, which wouldn’t be much of a problem if backtracking wasn’t such a large part of the game. Although the exploration tries to reward players with extra experiences, such as solving a murder mystery, this isn’t enough to take the sting out of the levels of backtracking you face.

WrestleQuest borrows heavily from the Mario RPG games, especially the Paper Mario series, with QTE-focused combat that requires both precision and timing to ensure your moves hit just right. There’s also the Hype meter, which you’ll need to utilise to get the audience behind you and sway the momentum of the fight in the forms of bonuses like buffs to your damage or your mana regenerating. Giving your opponent a solid beating will build it in your favour, whereas getting the smackdown layeth upon you by your opponent will grant them similar bonuses to make the fight even harder. Seems like a neat idea on paper that emulates the energy swaying throughout a pro-wrestling match, but in the form of combat for an RPG, becomes a bit of a chore when you’re already facing an enemy that’s tough to begin with. Just like a real match, you’ll need to secure the win with a pinfall. This is done through another QTE mini-game similar to the types you’ll find in the WWE 2K series. Failing this mini-game, however, causes your enemy to kick out of the pin, reviving with a little HP and continuing the match.

In addition, there are certain matches that have additional objectives that you’ll be required to adhere to, such as allowing your opponent out of a pin, taking a beating, or, the absolute worst of them all, having to intentionally lose Hype. Hype is built naturally through almost every action taken in a battle — except for using items — and not being able to skip an action on your turn means that this objective is a frustrating one to face. Although these objectives are a nice nod to the scripted nature of professional wrestling, their presence makes for a thoroughly lacking gameplay experience. Oftentimes, you’ll find your opponent going into business for themselves due to the AI not possessing the ability to work towards the objectives. It’s a limitation of the genre, as objectives like these work well in simulation-based wrestling games like the previously mentioned WWE 2K series and its yearly themed Showcase mode.

Regardless of the aforementioned issues, there is one facet where the game really shines: visuals. WrestleQuest feels just as much a love letter to retro SNES-era RPGs as it does to the glorious sport of pro wrestling. The pixel art is tastefully done, with cosy lighting effects that complement the environments well. Neon signs and street lights bathe the streets in a hazy glow, whereas wrestling arenas sport exciting lighting effects and pyrotechnics. The character designs look fantastic, too, with the effigy action figure statues of professional wrestling royalty standing mighty and detailed. The sound design is also another strong aspect of WrestleQuest, with a soundtrack of bumping beats to explore and throw down to. None of this should be a surprise because visual and audio presentations are such a major part of the wrestling business, so it’s only right that they shine brightly here, too. Though there isn’t full voice-acting for characters, there are voice lines that are played during matches, with Randy Santos sounding uncannily like the real Macho Man. The lack of variety in these lines, however, means that you will be hearing the same phrases repeated a lot, however.

WrestleQuest is a title I had prepared myself to get lost in, and there’s lots of charm here that I do appreciate, however, there seems to be just as much that takes me out of it. Any time I feel a smile creep on my face because of an exciting moment or a niche wrestling reference, it quickly fades due to a painful objective-focused combat. There is a wealth of moments and cameos that would appeal to any wrestling fan, with the licensed forms of Double J Jeff Jarrett, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and the Macho Man himself, Randy Savage, appearing throughout the story. There are even appearances of contemporary wrestling personalities like the blue-pants adorner, Leva Bates, or Conrad Thompson, who manages to shoehorn himself into yet another wrestling project. Unfortunately, the loftiness of these icons is severely held back by a combat system that lacks depth and a disjointed story that struggles with its pacing.

6.00/10 6

WrestleQuest (Reviewed on Windows)

Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.

A cute novelty which plays heavily into its professional wrestling influence at the cost of lasting gameplay. Although not a bad title itself, there’s potential greatness bubbling just below the surface, struggling to break through and catch a breath.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Pezh J.

Pezh J.

Staff Writer

Making money but the bank won't believe me

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