Genre: Wrestling, Simulation, Sports
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on IOS)
Age Rating: Teen
Release Date: 11/01/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
When is a Wrestling Game Not a Wrestling Game?
The answer is when you’re playing Wrestling Empire. This game is unlike anything I have ever played before. Created by a single developer MDickie, this game is a strange testament to what can be achieved, while at the same time being an absolutely bizarre and unpredictable experience.
Yes, it is a wrestling game. Yes, it supposed to be a wrestling game, but it is something else on so many different levels. How many levels? Well, you’re just going to have to keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
If Marmite Were a Wrestling Game
I’ll be honest here; you are either going to love or hate this game. If you know anything about the developer, you will understand a little about what you are getting yourself in for. Wrestling Empire on Nintendo Switch is a wild anarchic look at professional wrestling games. It’s an early ECW low polygon experience that ignores physics and in essence every possible rule you could think of. Yet, it works!
With that in mind, let’s break down this game that is for serious wrestling fans, while not being a serious wrestling game.
Low Budget Delivers a Highly Entertaining Experience
Wrestling games have not been great on the Switch. With 2K’s attempts at capturing WWE being just as successful as the WWE creative is themselves. Sure, WWE Battlegrounds was a fun over the top experience. It is still a genre that is wide open for exploration. *cough cough* Fire Pro *cough cough*
There is something immeasurably entertaining about Wrestling Empire that pushes it straight to the top level of games in my estimation. Yes, it’s a low graphics experience, and the characters look like something from a badly emulated PS1 experience, and if you’re a ‘graphics are the key part of a game’ believer then this will not be for you. However, if you look beyond that, and actually want a gaming experience, then I implore you to keep reading.
Expect the Unexpected and Still Always Be Surprised
I learned early on that this game does not follow any standard convention. It dares to be different and stand out there on its own, and yet, every time I played it there was something else that happened that just surprised me. However hard I tried to be ready for anything I never was.
I saw a referee climb the turnbuckle and launch himself out of the ring headfirst onto the steel steps. In one fight I go stuck in a near never-ending loop of full-body rolls, taking my opponent with me. I even saw a video online of a referee picking up what could only be described as a Molotov cocktail, which blew up in his hands … I told you this game was unlike anything I have seen before. All I was waiting for was for a prosthetic leg to appear and we would have had a full-scale ECDub moment on our hands.
One of the Better Story Modes I’ve Seen
You read that headline right. This game has one of the better story modes I have ever seen in a game. It is funny, it is bizarre, and has something happen every week. It is a testament to the passion the developer has for wrestling. The writing was better than anything coming out of Connecticut these days.
Take your wrestler from the training school through the different promotions, earn contracts, forge alliances, make sworn enemies. With more options than Mick Foley had characters and more face/heel switches than the Big Show, any wrestling fan will enjoy their Wrestling Empire career. I particularly enjoyed the winding storyline and different fights. The steroid bribes, the backroom brawls when rather nefarious offers are rejected. It had everything.
I was really impressed with the summary of what was going on each and every week. Not just within the organization I was part of but at every level of the game. Keeping track of champions, contact changes, alliances, injuries, and retirements. Remember, this was all coded by a single dev.
No Limit to Customization Options
You can customize your characters in so many ways in the game. Granted, it’s not as much as Fire Pro Wrestling. You can’t customize or create rings or belts, but when it comes to the roster, you can change every single detail of a character, and that alone opens the game to countless different options.
There is also a lot of content – wrestlers – to unlock which, for those that really are looking for a time-sink title – and I mean that in a positive way – then they will have plenty to keep them going.
I had a wild time modifying characters and creating insane mismatches. When you factor in the strange physics of the game, which reminded me far more of Goonya Fighters than anything else, gave rise to some hilarious moments. There was something very satisfying about setting my move set to nothing but power moves and going up against a fighter with nothing but minimal impact moves.
Far from Perfect but a Great Attempt
Until now, I have been filled with nothing but praise for this game, and it rightly deserves it. However, there are some issues I have with it also. The controls are not always the best, and as funny as it can be the insanity does, at times, get a bit too much.
There are a lot of different moves that you can assign but sometimes getting the input to recognize them was a bit of a challenge. Although there is every chance that was equally due to my clumsy fingers than to the game having a flaw.
I went back and looked through some of MDickies other games before I started writing this review, and it’s clear he has a passion for this industry. Both video games and wrestling. This game is a fun-filled romp and rightly deserves a place on any fan’s machine. I would even go as far as saying this is the sort of game I would jump at should Limited Run pick it up.
You can lace up your boots and get a copy of Wrestling Empire from the Nintendo eShop today.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.