I grew up in an era of some of the best turned-based Japanese Role Playing Games of our time. I think my first memorable experience has to be Final Fantasy III (VI). The story line, the characters, the music, and even the enemies made it feel like I was reading a book, except, I was all the characters. Same for my love for professional wrestling. My grandmother took me to my first live match featuring Ravishing Rick Rude. I've been hooked ever since, and still watch it to this very day. When I found out Mega Cat Studios, and Skybound came together to combine the two, my excitement got me to the top rope. And just as Wrestlequest was about to take my Super Lariat, it countered, threw salt in my eye when the ref wasn't looking, put me in the figure four, and made me tap out. And I didn't even save my progress in the last town.
You start the game as a character named Muchacho Man. Muchacho Man is a wrestler who just wants to be the absolute best wrestler ever. He idolizes the late, great Macho Man Randy Savage, and even goes to his iconic statue to pay homage to him. He's so dedicated to the craft that he is one of the top performers at his gym. He even sleeps there. From the glasses, to the pageantry, to maybe the voice quips he has throughout the game, he is on a quest to become the greatest. He gets his opportunity, and with his manager's blessing, he goes to prove to himself that not only is wrestling real, but it's life. So real, that he is off to find out who is trying to make all wrestling "scripted".
You are ALSO a wrestler name Brink Logan, one half of the tag team The Honest Bucks. You are part of the family business. And he just wants to be champion and impress his family. His sister is already out there doing great, and it's up to Brink to make sure the wrestling business stays on the up and up. There's a character named L.F. Font (read it faster), who promises to take Brink to the top, as long as he does a couple of things first. So your quest(s) begins. This seems to all be told from the perspective of a podcast that has Jeff Jarrett and Diamond Dallas Page among the guests. I don't understand why, except wrestling game.
Eventually, you figure out that you are controlling a bunch of action figures, which means your worlds and levels are playsets. The overworld is made up of these playsets, and most of them belong to a wrestling organization of sorts. Towns have stores and inns, as most JRPGs do. They're also littered with Non Playable Characters. You'll speak to wrestlers, YouTube personalities, and just random natives of the land. I stopped talking to them halfway through, as most of them contributed very little, if anything.
There are characters that you meet who add to the story, and eventually, join your party. These characters join with little to no fanfare, and seem to be at odds with you right before they join you. One character doesn't want to even leave his town, but is convinced by another party member, who again, is not excited to team with you at all. There's a character named The Brooter (which seems like The Brother), and he's essentially a Hulk Hogan character. Of course, he teams up with Muchacho Man, again, reluctantly. Every character seems to be at odds here, until they're not. Some of them become your manager.
The playsets all have their own ups and downs. This isn't your average overworld. You have the world map, and then you have playsets just set for you in a linear fashion. These environments have a little bit of exploration and a LOT of interaction to each of them. You have your towns where you can refill your life at a infirmary of sorts. Then there are your shops that let you buy, and immediately equip gear. Some of them have you split up your faction and solve puzzles separately. These sections are painful to get through, because the switching isn't as seamless. There's even a cooldown, so if you pull a lever to lower a bridge for the other character, and you wanna switch fast to move through the game, you may have to wait a little. There is a cool thing that tells you how many treasure chests are in the area after finding the first one, and you can break boxes, and search bushes, to get things. There are also stage hazards. Lots of them.
There's a playset called the Brite Lite Cave, where you have to cover light bulbs with shards of paper, in order to remove same color shards. And you eventually have to combine them to make colors that you don't have. Yellow and Blue sheets will remove the green shards. Red and yellow, remove the orange ones, and so on. However, this is all while dodging fire geysers within the cave, which is everywhere, and shoots off at different intervals. The frustrating part is, that if you use a red sheet to get to another part of the cave, you can go back and grab it for later. However, if you have two red sheets, you wouldn't know it unless you touched another light after using your red sheet already. I died way too much in this cave, and I almost speared my TV.
If you die in the playsets, which you will, you start from your last SAVE file. Keep this in mind when I scream this later in the review. And even with all that going on, there are enemies. Not random encounters, enemies. The enemies just kind of loll around in the playsets, until they see you, and once they see you, an exclamation point fills up as they get closer. Once that is full, you are officially attacked. As I said, there are no random encounters. Once you defeat a character, they stay gone forever. Keep in mind that you CANNOT grind to level up your character, so when you walk into a new area, the enemies are overpowered. The game wants you figure it out. And that takes us to the bane of this game's existence: The Battle System.
You battle in a wrestling ring, of course, in front of a crowd. Don't worry about the music, it's not the best. This is a turn based system, but not an active time battle system. In that aspect your characters always go first, as the game seems to have no preemptive attacks either way. You have attacks, items, taunts and gimmicks. Your attacks are just your normal attacks. Your most powerful attacks are in your gimmicks, and a lot of these are your run-of-the-mill wrestling signatures. Stunners, clotheslines, they're all here. The gimmicks also associate with the character. There's a school teacher character who has a move called "Home Ec. Class", where she throws a vial at the enemy, and has fire properties. There are different elemental and status ailments that come with these. And there are perks and healing gimmicks. All your gimmicks use ability points (AP), and will run out. The item choice is just that. It gives you access to different items to use during matches. Then there's the taunt, that lowers your characters defense, but builds the hype meter. Still with me? Good. I thought you already rang the bell.
The hype meter can give you different perks, and builds depending on the taunt, the gimmicks, or even the manager. That's right, the manager is also part of the party, and they're usually deep in your gimmicks, maybe the 5th page in. And the manager can build your hype meter passively, based on their level. The downside, is that your opponents have the same hype meter, and can swing it 10 or 20 points on a counter. Then there's the way to execute attacks. Every attack comes with a quick time event. If you just wanna use a regular attack with no ability points, you hit the corresponding attack button, then hit a completely different button that appears on the screen to execute that attack. If the enemy you hit bounces off the ropes, you get a second QTE, but if you miss, they get to hit you. Hard.
The gimmicks are sometimes riddled with these QTEs too, and it's so quick, you don't even get time to attack. On top of that, if you successfully carry out an attack, they could use a gimmick counter, for just using an attack. The gimmicks come with the pageantry, kind of like a wind up, but it happens for ALL CHARACTERS, which slows down the momentum. On top of all this, sometimes you have to PIN the enemies. After you slowly whittle their life down, you have to use another turn to pin the character, and then a mini game pops up where you have to push a button within a moving green section three times. I get it, but I just don't know why this is a feature for every battle. There's a way to turn on auto pin. Do it. Just do it. Note that the game will turn off auto pin for some boss battles. This also works against you, because if you don't pin, the character can wake up with more HP. The enemy can also pin you, which triggers yet another QTE, and it's a button masher. Mash the right button, and you'll kick out, (even if the ref audibly counts to three). If your finger slips and you hit ANY other button, it's an automatic 3 count, and your character is out. You can be revived, but you probably couldn't afford it.
The gimmicks, again, sometimes hit one enemy, or all. Some gimmicks result in an instant KO, but you still maybe have to pin them, because, game. But there are also double team and triple team moves. However, you have to set up your character to participate in said tag team moves. This means your character has to use their turn to set up for a tag team move. However, you'll run into the constant running out of the AP, and running out of items to refresh your AP, so then you're stuck in this tag team animation that you can't even carry out, and you then have to do a regular attack, exposing the rest of your team. And yes, those come with QTEs. Every single battle is like this, and I personally think this is the most complicated, slowest, and overdone battle system I've ever experienced. And remember, there is no grinding, so you'll probably lose every first battle in every playset.
I can't even talk about the legendary wrestlers in this game with merit. Macho Man Randy Savage, Andre The Giant, Jake the Snake Roberts, Jeff Jarret, Diamond Dallas Page, and even Sgt. Slaughter all seem forced into this game. The voice overs come in as quips but usually have nothing to do with the on screen dialog. Muchacho Man will go "Oooh yeah!" as something like "I don't think we should do that." would appear on the screen. It just doesn't feel authentic. This seems like bingo hall shady. The legends deserve better.
There are some shiny things here. You can save at anytime, with the exception of mid-battle. Do that, every chance you can get, as autosave doesn't work as often as it should. There is a database of the enemies and characters you faced. You can up your hype meter at the beginning of the match by finding it (?) in bushes and boxes. You can also equip different items, and upgrade your character. You also can make choices within the game to become a good guy or a bad guy, if you want. You can customize your entrance, when you use it, and that too, is a QTE.
I just don't think you'll really care. I didn't care for the characters. I stopped following the story once I found the twist. I stopped doing a lot. You can also turn on invincible mode, which I think is a good idea, if you want to get through this game quicker. And you'll want to get through it as quick as possible. I know who this is for, and I fit that demographic. I feel a little bad knowing that there are people liked it. And that's cool. I'm only one person, and I was not pleased. At all. Two of my favorite genres of entertainment mashed together just ends up one big convoluted mess.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Joseph is the resident streamer for Gaming Nexus. He grew up playing video games as early as the Atari 2600. He knows a little about a lot of video games, and loves a challenge. He thinks that fanboys are dumb, and enjoys nothing more than to see rumors get completely shut down. He just wants to play games, and you can watch him continue his journey at Games N Moorer on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook gaming!View Profile