With the true-to-life WWE titles on a hiatus with only the mediocre Battlegrounds filling the gap, wrestling fans around the world haven’t got much to sink their biceps into. Making its way down to the ring weighing in at twelve pounds forty-nine is Action Arcade Wrestling. Action Arcade Wrestling brings everything you love from 90’s wrestling games with its own twist of chaos and fun. Join the action and step through the ropes in this fast-paced, arcade wrestling extravaganza to superkick the overly simulated wrestling games out of the ring! Choose from a roster of 30+ outrageous wrestlers executing their powerful attacks and superhero-like abilities in the most over-the-top wrestling game ever conceived.
Developed by VICO Game Studio LLC and published by Reverb INC, this is a title that captures wrestling games from the era of the late ’90s and early ’00s. Yes, I’m talking WWF Warzone times. If you don’t remember that game and the attitude era of wrestling, then this was the prime of entertainment. Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, and The Undertaker ruled the roost back then and became icons. Will this game encapsulate some of the great moments from these outstanding experiences from the heyday of the original Playstation?
Can I be champion of the world?
Sadly there is no career option here in Action Arcade Wrestling. Instead, you must choose from a plethora of exhibition matches. Currently, there are 16 match options to divulge with a range of different experiences. Your standard 1v1 and tag team brawls are available here with other modes such as intense Battle Royale gatherings.
What I was secretly hoping for here though was online multiplayer and unfortunately, this is not an option. What a missed opportunity, as the foundations of a great game, are laid and it would benefit from human players battling it out in the ring. It would hugely extend replayability and longevity playing alone. There is the option to introduce championship belts to the game, but since it’s all solo or local multiplayer it seemed a little deflated when you won.
How does it handle?
Action Arcade Wrestling eases you in with a very well-presented and intuitive tutorial. Teaching you how to grapple, perform moves, just from the ropes, and more. The hand-crafted animations and 700+ wrestling moves that are on offer here are very impressive indeed. The control system is super simple once you get to grips with it. You will quickly learn that you’ll be pressing X and B a lot, mainly due to these being strike and grapple. Most players will adjust quickly to the controls with more casual gamers maybe requiring a little more time.
Engagement with the opposition in terms of performing strikes grapples and power moves were smooth and fluid. Power-ups can be activated throughout a match, these can also be switched off if you don’t wish to have them in-game. One of these pickups enables you to get up and start the fight if your energy is fully depleted. Another may grant you the ability to launch a barrage of attacks to weaken your opponent with the hope of setting up for a finishing move.
During a match, there will be several opportunities to gain points to level up. Perform specific actions and keep the crowd entertained to gain point rewards to rank up your wrestler. If you love the hardcore element of the attitude era of wrestling then you’ll be able to handle weapons, chairs, and tables to spice up the gameplay.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically Action Arcade Wrestling is wonderfully illustrated in an art style reminiscent of games like Borderlands and XIII. A sophisticated cartoon style that appears serious and is vivid at the right moments. With a large range of wrestlers in the rankings that are designed specifically for this game. You may be thinking, can you create your own character and that answer would be yes, but we will get to this later in the review.
Another key piece of missing content that is rather noticeable is the lack of entrances from wrestlers. These were always one of the more exciting parts of the game, but they are absent here. I can imagine the logistics of designing the animations and in-game music for these short walks to the ring would add much more work. We have to remember that this isn’t a triple-A wrestling game, so we can almost forgive the developers for a few bits missing.
The soundtrack has a ’90s aura to it and a distinct nod to games like WF Wrestlemania in the Sega Mega Drive days. Crowd noise and volume areas you’d expect. The announcer is clear, concise, and to the point. As stated it would have been great to see characters with their own walk-in music. As sound effects go through, it all is satisfactory in that department.
Create and download custom wrestlers
Perhaps the greatest achievement of Action Arcade Wrestling is the “Wrestle Lab Creation Suite”. Now this area will give you the flexibility and opportunity to create your own characters. Unfortunately, creations can’t be done from the game itself and have to be utilized with a companion application via PC. The customization is in-depth with a range of options. Once your customized wrestler is complete you can upload this to be downloaded on your return to the game.
Sadly for those without a PC, you’re out of luck with the creative aspect. All is not lost though as you can download other designs from players across the world. Here you will find authentic replicas made by people based on real-life wrestlers from WWE and other wrestling companies. You have the option to store up to 300 downloads in your roster, this extends the variance massively.
Action Arcade Wrestling offers fans of the genre something original at a very low price point. As a solo player, it becomes quite boring quickly due to the lack of a career mode or online multiplayer. Gameplay would be best served with friends and family locally and would create more competitive gameplay. The creation tool brings some great features to the mix and being able to access other designs is exceptional of the developers to include this. Sadly this is not a game I would revisit alone which is a real shame as in terms of gameplay and the overall presentation, it is a solid entry. A career and online multiplayer added in with an option to access the creation tool in-game would push this to one of the best wrestling titles ever built. Fans of the genre, however, should still give this a go given its cheap pricing.