Action Arcade Wrestling has made its debut onto the Nintendo Switch, delivering RAW Smackdowns like it’s All Elite. We have to ask the question, is it Major League? Is it able to make an iMpact? Or is destined to live in the Lucha Underground?
Action Arcade Wrestling started its life as Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling until the company folded the other year. Like a phoenix from the flames, the developer has stripped the licensing out of the game, crafted a new totally original roster, and repackaged the game.
If the title didn’t quite give it away, Action Arcade Wrestling is a game based on the “sports entertainment” product of wrestling. Think Hulk Hogan, John Cena, and the like but wrapped up in a more accessible arcade-style package instead of a simulation like Fifa or the 2K sports properties.
The aim of Action Arcade Wrestling was to create a perfect middle ground between previous wrestling game giants WrestleFest and WWF No Mercy. These two are usually hailed as prime examples of the genre.
What you are presented with currently is the bones of what is a brilliantly fun, pick up and play wrestling game that even people with no interest in the “sport” can pick up and have fun with. No prior knowledge about how it works is needed.
Upon your first boot up there is a 28 section tutorial that teaches you most of what you need to know. Curiously it misses out the “change focus” button use, how to use your wrestler’s “finishing move” and what the different power-ups do – more on that later on.
First off, the game is full of different match types and should suit any budding ‘rassler and their need to inflict pain. They are as follows:
- 1 vs 1
- 2 vs 2 Tornado Tag
- 3 vs 2 Tornado Tag
- Battle Royal
- Battle Rumble
- 3 Way Dance
- 4 Way Dance
- 4 Person Elimination
- 1 vs 2
- Tag Team
- 3 vs 3 Tag Team
- 4 vs 4 Tag Team
- 5 vs 5 Tag Team
- 3 vs 3 to 5 vs 5 Elimination Tag
As you can see, there are plenty of different ways to throw down in Arcade Action Wrestling. The only issue is currently there are no specialist match types such as Ladder Match or Cage Match, so you’re tied into standard stipulations.
When starting an Exhibition Match you can choose the difficulty, the participating wrestlers, and one of currently two arenas. There are also settings for the length of the match. This can be either a normal match that goes on for about five minutes or an arcade match at around 2; being much quicker, arcade matches are ideal for those short bursts.
You can also decide settings around weapons. These can be thrown in from the crowd or already there to pick up. Beyond that, there are settings around the number of power-ups that appear in the match, if a Title Belt is put on the line, and if the match will include the “Spot” system.
As you can see this game offers you so many options to customize how you want your matches. This makes it a dream for fans and non-fans alike to get their ideal wrestling fix, bar the omission of unique match types.
The core gameplay is carried by a very simple and easy-to-use control system which the game reminds you of every time you pick a match. There is a weak and strong attack which is performed by pressing or holding in the attack button and a weak and strong grapple which is done the same way but with the grapple button and a direction.
Running, climbing the turnbuckle, and leaving the ring are all performed with the directional input and feel naturally smooth. There is a button to change focus on your opponents and this button also sacrifices any power up to get your character back on their feet.
It’s a nice and simple pick-up and play control system that I can’t really fault. You’ll be winning world titles in no time with ease!
Unique to this title are the power-up and spot systems. The power-ups are exactly as they sound, giant items to pick up that will make you regenerate health, be tougher to knock down, and so on.
The spot system is something I haven’t really seen before in the genre. It awards you points and power-ups if you perform the action required within the allotted time. It is a fantastic risk vs reward system as it can give you the advantage, but may not quite be the offense you had planned.
Double or Nothing
Sadly in terms of actual game modes, Action Arcade Wrestling lacks anything outside of Exhibition Matches. There is no career mode whatsoever to speak of and no online multiplayer – just local. You do unlock new characters through points accrued in matches that build up over time giving you somewhat of a goal, but it just seems a little empty, especially for solo play.
While the game has a plethora of creative options, these are locked behind a program you need to download via Steam. If you don’t have access to a PC, this means you’re outta luck if you want to create your own wrestler, title, or arena.
You are able to access any created content on the game server and download it quite easily. The community has created stuff from current wrestlers to a Pepsi Machine, Giant Pencil, and all other kinds of wacky creations. It’s just a damn shame you can’t actually create anything on the game.
As the game has delved into its arcade routes, the developers have handcrafted over 500+ wrestling moves which look fantastic. On top of this, they’ve also added extras like laser beam eyes and really over-the-top stuff.
It’s a bright and colorful experience that really encapsulates the 80s style of wrestling. It has fun colorful characters, bright lights, and spectacle. It certainly isn’t for someone looking for a more grounded and realistic wrestling experience.
At this moment in time, Action Arcade Wrestling is a great-looking and fun title that feels like it’s still very much in early access. The lack of content for solo players is painfully obvious from the get-go and the fact the creation tools require a totally different format and separate download is a puzzling choice.
As mentioned before, the bones of a great wrestling game are here, just currently that’s all it is. It’s a quick and fun time without substance and doesn’t really offer much that other wrestling titles such as Retromania Wrestling or Wrestling Empire haven’t already recently covered.
WAIT FOR SALE ON ACTION ARCADE WRESTLING
Many thanks goes to Reverb Communications for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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