Any professional wrestling fan who grew up with the product in the 80s and 90s knows it’s so much more than what’s presented today. It’s more than just pointless, horrifically fake-looking fights (AEW, I’m looking at you). It’s about characters. Personalities. Larger-than-life superstars that can reach through your TV screen and hold onto your heart tighter than a headlock. And that’s precisely what Mega Cat Studios’ WrestleQuest tries to capture.
It isn’t just the over-the-top athletes from yesteryear that WrestleQuest hopes to represent, either. Fittingly, WrestleQuest harkens back to the 16-bit era, where colorful sprites dominated gaming’s landscape. WrestleQuest drips with personality, routinely introducing new and familiar faces that pull directly from the past. Along my journey, I’ve consistently been left with a smile on my face at the mere mention of timeless superstars like Jake “the Snake” Roberts, the British Bulldog, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. I’m not yet convinced that someone new to wrestling will take away as much as I have from my time with WrestleQuest, but for older fans, I guarantee this will scratch a nostalgic itch.
Admittedly, I was hoping to be able to select one of the aforementioned characters to take through WrestleQuest’s story, but this won’t be possible. Instead, you’ll step into the boots of an up-and-comer. An individual that grew up idolizing Randy Savage. So much so that he mimics Savage in almost every way. His mannerisms, catchphrases, and even his name (the Muchacho Man) so closely resemble that of his childhood hero, that it wasn’t long before I felt as if I actually was playing as the Macho Man.
Making His Way To The Ring
Though, as much as I enjoyed stepping into a beautiful, 16-bit homage to something I’ve always loved, found that the dialogue sometimes can become long-winded. Seeing the writing use wrestling’s inside terms like shoot, gimmick, and heel is all fantastic. But there are plenty of moments when the original characters drone on and on, without saying anything interesting. I’d like to have seen the writers focus more on telling a story that we old-timer fans would appreciate. Instead, WrestleQuest’s narrative often comes across as a story written by people that’s knowledge of wrestling comes from a Wikipedia page.
The in-ring action also feels as if it’s half-baked. I wasn’t expecting to have an arsenal of different moves to choose from, but most of what’s here hardly ever resembles wrestling. WrestleQuest utilizes a turn-based battle system that offers players a few options, much like any other game in the genre. You’ll be able to attack, taunt, and use items, though the majority of your offense ends up looking like nothing more than two sprites being tapped together. Again, I, of course, didn’t expect to find animations that rivaled modern wrestling games. But I did hope to see some action that at least looked better than what you find in the majority of shovelware cellphone games.
As I already mentioned, however, WrestleQuest really is a beautiful game. Granted, it’s beautiful if you appreciate the classic look it goes for, which I do. The locations, whether you’re in a ring or traversing the overworld, map all look great. And the sprites themselves faithfully capture the look and feel of outlandish wrestling personalities. Half the fun of WrestleQuest is undoubtedly exploring each area and discovering the easter eggs sprinkled throughout the world.
It’ll be interesting to see the Mega Cat Studios’ final vision for WrestleQuest. Without question, I’d recommend anyone with a love for wrestling to check it out, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I came away a bit disappointed with it. The initial reveal trailer had my hype levels to the ceiling. But now, after a good chunk of time with it, I can’t help but wonder if the direction the developers took the story in was the right choice. And the in-ring action needs a ton of work er be something I’d get excited about playing for a second or third time.
When I was a kid, I’d spend hours upon hours with WWF games on the Super Nintendo. I loved them. I wanted to capture that feeling during my time with WrestleQuest, but it just didn’t happen.
***Preview code was provided by the publisher***