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Tuesday October 3, 2023
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WrestleQuest Review

Mid-Card nostalgia act

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Out of every major sport, professional wrestling is the one that can be easiest to fit into a different game genre. It's not the scripted nature of it that would make it work, but rather the colorful characters that have popped up over the years. AEW experimented with this idea in the recently released Fight Forever, and WWE have tried their hand at branching out in the past as well. However, neither of them has taken the ring to the world of RPGs like WrestleQuest has set out to do. With years of iconic history to pull from, Mega Cat Studios had more than enough ammo to craft a unique adventure.

WrestleQuest game

In the make-believe world of WrestleQuest, professional wrestling is a way of life. For the two main characters, getting to the top of the industry will require different paths. Muchacho Man Randy Santos is working to get to the top, despite his meager beginnings. For Brink Logan, the battle between being true to his family and personal success is arguably his toughest match. Even if their motivations and ways are different, both want to be recognized as the best wrestler in the Toy Box. These goals ultimately put them on the path to L.F. Font and PAW, the biggest promotion in the land.

It's clear from the start that the team at Mega Cat Studios has a major love for professional wrestling. Not only are real-life grapplers such as Sgt. Slaughter, Diamond Dallas Page and Jake the Snake featured, but there are countless homages to other wrestlers. For example, Brink Logan and his family are styled around Bret Hart and his legendary family. As someone who has watched wrestling since I was a child, I loved seeing the countless references the title includes.

With that said, the overall plot of WrestleQuest struggles under its weight. With the Toy Box angle, the scatter-shot of scenarios and characters gives the game an inconsistent level of quality. The further it strays from focusing on professional wrestling, the less interesting it ends up being. Not helping matters is the choppy presentation of the twin tales. The title loves to bounce between the different teams with little rhyme, reason or warning. I'm not opposed to moving from one storyline to another, but there needed to be better reasoning for when and why the game is choosing to switch perspectives.

As a game that celebrates the past, it makes sense that WrestleQuest would have a throwback play style as well. In this case, the title is a traditional turn-based RPG with QTE elements mixed in. Think Paper Mario or Mario & Luigi for reference. Each character in your party has a basic attack, as well as a variety of specials and a taunt. The QTEs for the basic attacks add additional damage, and can potentially lead to a quick follow-up hit. If you miss the QTE, though, you'll do less damage and leave yourself open to a counter. Special maneuvers are a mix of ones that feature QTE and ones that do not. These more powerful attacks are tied to an AP meter each fighter has, and some of them take a good amount of power to use.

WrestleQuest game

Something that separates this game from other similar RPGs is the hype meter. The hype meter is something that will build depending on how good you are doing in the match. Bonuses are doled out for hitting QTEs and using specials such as tag-team attacks. Taunting your opponents or utilizing your manager help build the meter as well. As the meter builds, you'll gain additional stat boosts such as extra damage and AP replenishment. However, if your opponent takes control, or you start messing up attacks, the meter will deplete and negatively affect your team. Successfully using this mechanic requires not just skills in battle, but also how you workshop your different party members. You can assign each member of your party a hype type, and certain ones provide boosts to hype building at the expense of something else, such as defense or damage dealt. It's not the most groundbreaking system, but it is something that adds extra strategy to the game.

The combat system of WrestleQuest is serviceable but could have used some improvements to make it flow better. Being able to use effects such as fatigue to amplify other special attacks is a nice touch, and I love the number of different maneuvers each character has. From specialized tag-team moves to solo strikes, you have plenty of options. I think the title would have benefited from a way to speed up the action, though. Having to do QTEs for almost every attack really drags out the length of each match, even against enemies you should be wiping out quickly. There's also a pinning mini game required to eliminate other wrestlers that could have been done away with in my opinion. It's not fun, and calls to mind some of the worst moments of the more traditional wrestling games. Admittedly, there are modifiers in the options menu to mitigate these issues, but I still think the engine could have been improved by fixing them outright.

Outside of matches, the game continues to adhere to classic RPG mechanics. The Toy Box is a vast land, and you are free to explore the various biomes of it. Some of them are other wrestling promotions that house their own unique grapplers, while others are traditional settings (jungles, battlefields) that also contain danger. Enemies are visible on the map, so you are free to avoid them if you want. Bigger hubs house necessities such as shops and hospitals, as well as NPCs that can dole out side-quests. Visiting the shops is a must, as not only can you purchase better gear, but you can also get recipes which you can use to craft new items.

WrestleQuest game

What ultimately hurts WrestleQuest in comparison to other retro RPGs is that it is missing important quality of life features. The mini-map you get is disappointingly barebones, with only indicators for where you need to go and some buildings. There's no detail on it, which makes walking around to discover secrets tedious and frustrating. Controlling your character during these segments can get annoying as well. I found myself constantly getting caught on objects, or unable to smash an object I know I should be able to. During certain portions of the game, you'll need to either sneak through areas, or avoid obstacles, and the clunky controls make these more challenging than they probably should have been.

Not being able to grind out XP against lower-level enemies is another nuisance, as they don't respawn after being defeated. It's a particular issue with getting new teammates up to the same level, as they do not get boosted to match the rest of your team. They are often an anchor on your team until you can hopefully get them to an acceptable level. There are a few major difficulty spikes where it would have been beneficial to have all members of my team at an appropriate level.

With its uniquely colorful cast, WrestleQuest features appropriately colorful visuals. The 2D sprites look fantastic, with their size and detail really popping on the Steam Deck screen. They do an excellent job of not only capturing the look of the different real-life wrestlers featured, but also the various original figures from the Toy Box. They animate good as well, with special attention paid to making sure that the various moves they pull off look somewhat true to life. While the different environments you come across aren't too original, they still look good at least. I wasn't as in love with the sound design of the game, though. The music isn't too bad and has a good amount of variety. However, it didn't really remind me of classic wrestling themes either. There are also bits of dialogue for different wrestlers, but the same sound bites tend to be reused repeatedly. Hearing the same stale phrase every other attack tends to get old after a few rounds in the ring.

Prior to the original release of the game, the rise of a major bug caused it to be pushed back a few weeks. This bug wiped out hours of progress in early copies of the game and needed to be taken care of. Thankfully, I did not come across that issue during my time with the title. With that said, the performance isn't perfect on the Steam Deck. Load times are frequent, and while not super long, are long enough to be noticeable. There were also moments when the title would briefly stutter. It could happen mid-battle, or during a conversation. I remarked on the collision issues earlier, but I also ran into an issue where my character got stuck in a piece of the environment, which required a save reload.

WrestleQuest game

WrestleQuest is a labor of love from Mega Cat Studios, both in its appreciation for the pageantry and magic of professional wrestling, as well as the mechanically sound gameplay of classic RPGs. As a fan of both of those things, I loved seeing what the title would pull out next. However, there are elements of both plot and play that could have been improved upon. The dueling tales of Muchacho Man and Brink are interesting in their own ways, but the haphazard switching between the two interrupts the flow of their stories. The combat engine is mechanically solid, if a little slow going at times. However, land traversal is hampered by lackluster collision detection and a limited mini map. Like a rookie wrestler, there are solid fundamentals here, but additional work in the ring is still needed.

Our ratings for WrestleQuest on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
The colorful 2D sprite work is great, and there was a clear level of love put into the character designs. The repetitive sound bites could have been excised from the game entirely, though
The QTE-reliant combat engine will keep you engaged by necessity, but would have benefitted from being sped up. Outside of combat, though, the clunky character movement makes exploration a chore.
Single Player
The stories of Brink and Randy Santos are interesting plays on the wrestling industry. The irregular switching between the two often ruins the pacing of them, though.
With long-ish load times, and frequent stutters, the title doesn't perform as well as you would like to see on the Steam Deck.
WrestleQuest has just enough charm and personality to make up for its more distracting problems. The constant references to the world of wrestling and fun appearances by legends make the stories of Muchacho Man and Brink worth following, but the gameplay could have used some additional refinement.
WrestleQuest box art Platform:
Our Review of WrestleQuest
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
WrestleQuest is ranked #1537 out of 1911 total reviewed games. It is ranked #53 out of 72 games reviewed in 2023.
1536. The Pale Beyond
1537. WrestleQuest
1538. Bionic Commando

10 images added 39 days ago
WrestleQuest - Launch Trailer
Posted: 54 days ago
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