Developer: RetroSoft Studios
Publisher: RetroSoft Studios
Genre: Wrestling, Sports, Simulation
Platform: Xbox One (Also available on Steam, coming soon for Nintendo Switch and PS4)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 23/03/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
I love wrestling. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I watch more than my fair share every week, with Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all taken by wrestling shows, and that’s not counting the McMahon empire of WWE. So, when I saw a game advert pop up while watching an episode of NWA Powerrr on YouTube about 18 months ago, I just knew I had to play it.
I reached out to the developers and got myself added to their mailing list, and on Jan 1st, 2020 I asked if Rapid Reviews could see about getting a review code. Now, some fifteen months later, here I am, about to dive into the world of RetroMania Wrestling.
As advertised on the game’s website, this title is a spiritual successor to WrestleFest, an arcade game released in 1991. How did my time with RetroMania play out? Keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
An Arcade Throwback that Scratches the Itch
As an owner of both a Nintendo Switch and an Xbox One S, I am going to come out and say it. I am waiting (im)patiently for a port of Fire Pro Wrestling World to come out. Especially for the Switch. While I wait, I have RetroMania Wrestling (reviewed on Xbox, and destined to be purchased for the Switch). This game scratches that itch very well and delivers a cracking arcade wrestling experience like no other.
I’ve reviewed a slew of wrestling games for Rapid Reviews, and I am lucky enough to be able to say that they have all brought something different to the table. RetroMania is an absolute gem of a game.
Classic Controls That Fit Like a Favourite Pair of Slippers
If you want to succeed at RetroMania and claim that ten pounds of gold, then you are going to have to work on your timing. The game uses a very familiar mechanic, and one that while it can take a while to master, simply cannot be beaten when it comes to gameplay.
Yes, the moves are power-based, with low, medium and high power ratings, but to win a grapple you first have to get your timing right.
As in most wrestling matches – squash matches notwithstanding – you have to build up your moves. Wrestling is like a dance, it’s a finely choreographed performance from athletes who are giving their all for something they love. You start with small, low power moves. Wearing your opponent down until you have the momentum in your favour and can make the step up to medium moves, before finally hitting the real power moves. The ultimate goal being to nail your finisher and the 1, 2, 3, right in the centre of the ring.
I am a big fan of this approach, and not only does it help with that old school arcade feeling, but generally makes the game more fun to play. The moves are also allocated with the classic X, A, B, allocation with directional input to determine the move. It gives a lot of room for match creativity.
Customization Options Would Take This Game Next Level
The one thing I feel is missing from RetroMania Wrestling is the ability to customize things. From move sets, to costumes and environments, the ability to customize in a wrestling game adds so much more to the game than could really be understood.
In fact, it’s only when it’s not there, as is the case right now, that you notice how much you miss it. I very much believe that this game is a work in progress. I don’t mean that it is unfinished, but rather, that there will be a lot more content added and created for it.
It is the first game from the small development studio and what they have already achieved is worthy of the praise I give it. If they happen to read this, then the ability to create your own wrestlers, or even download those created by others, or allocate different moves to different controls, would be incredible.
Story Mode Feels a Little Light
While I was, and certainly still am excited about this game, I do feel the Story Mode is a little thin on the ground. Now, at the time of writing this, I have completed it once. There were choices you could make as you progress through the relatively short story, so I do wonder if different choices would impact the storyline in different ways. I will certainly be playing another few times to check it out. Alternatively, and I feel this might be more likely, there will be new chapters of the story added as DLC as it is developed.
I would certainly like to see a more detailed story mode come to life, or failing that, create a career mode that allows the player to move around through the different companies that are present in the backend of the system and win different titles, etc.
Chasing the 10 Pounds of Gold Dream
Any wrestling fan understands the importance of the NWA title. It’s arguably one of the titles that carry the most prestige and history. It’s been held by some of the greats, and while the current champ Nick Aldis might not be everybody’s cup of tea, RetroMania Wrestling gives you the ability to change that.
Hunt down Aldis and steal his crown. Then, you can either continue to defend it or start again with a new wrestler. The fun part is the championship belt stays where it was, which gives way for creative players to create their own storylines as they play.
I enjoyed this mode and played through it a couple of times with different wrestlers.
Adequate Roster and Match Styles with Room for More
There are 16 playable characters in the game, all of which are recognizable faces from the world of Sports Entertainment and the independent wrestling scene. There was a great fan-controlled competition held by Retrosoft to determine one of the final spots – claimed by Warhorse.
I can see this sort of thing being used more in the future to decide on expansion characters. I’ve mentioned upgrades and DLC a few times in this review, and for good reason. I really enjoyed playing this game and will certainly play it a lot more after this review is live. However, the game does need more content adding to it if it wants to have any form of longevity.
The sky is the limit with this style of wrestling game, and I would dearly love to see the developers cut loose and create something truly special.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with RetroMania Wrestling. It was more than worth the wait and holds its own as a wrestling title. Not quite a heavyweight, but certainly a cruiserweight, and maybe sneaks the occasional Intercontinental win, possibly with a surprise roll-up.
I do feel the game’s speed can, at times be a little off balance. I mean the speed the characters move. It feels like the turbo button has been stuck in the on position. You get used to it, but it could do with coming down just a tad. Especially when fighting multi-competitor matches. There’s often barely enough time to make it over and break up a pin before it’s game over. This is a minor critique on an otherwise solid game. With future DLC hopefully on the way, this game will only get better.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
You can purchase your copy of RetroMania Wrestling from the Microsoft Store today.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.