12/09/2021

๐Ÿคผ‍♀️ Action Arcade Wrestling | Review | Xbox Series X | 7/10 | "That’s the bottom line, cause AAW said so" ๐Ÿคผ‍♀️ @AAWGame #IndieGames #GameDev

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Wrestling games over the last few years have been deeply concerned with realism, which is funny - as wrestling (to the shock of no one) isn't real, it’s pre-determined and over the top entertainment which can range from the exciting to the downright stupid.

Concentrating on making everything feel deeply real has always seemed strange to me, the best wrestling games have always leaned in towards the sillier, more arcadey nature. Games like No Mercy or The Smackdown series on PS2 always concentrated on the fun and that’s why they are celebrated - unlike the recent 2K series that got so bad they had to take a couple of years hiatus and hopefully will come back next year with a better and more interesting iteration of its series.

Action Arcade Wrestling has decided to go old school. Whilst playing the game I was reminded of the years that my brother and I played WWF Royal Rumble on the Sega Mega Drive; the move system, the colourfulness and the chaos all felt familiar.

The control scheme of this game is simple, it has two main buttons to grapple and strike which you hold for stronger attacks. Blocking is done by holding the opposite direction to your target, whilst combining the buttons together will pick up objects or use submission moves.

The game has over 700 moves and these aren't simply just variations of traditional wrestling moves, there are some really crazy moves like shooting lasers from your eyes and throwing fireballs - which are great, especially when combined with the creative suite where you have characters like Cyclops and Ryu who suit those moves perfectly. 

Also featured in the game are power-ups which can help you heal, boost attack power or get sacrificed in order to kick out when you think you have no chance of beating the 3-count. These powerups add to its arcade style and create a sense of strategy, as you must be conscious of not just your own powerups, but also your opponent’s. 

When starting the game, you will have to complete a tutorial that will give you all the information required, and if like me you are pretty forgetful, you can always take the tutorial again at any time by clicking on it in the main menu to refresh your memory. 

The game has a very striking look using 2d cel-shaded graphics, characters and arenas are always visually appealing, the arenas especially had great lighting with the rings well-lit, but the crowd shrouded in darkness, giving an atmospheric feel. The menus in the game are firmly from the ‘80s, they are very easy to use and you never feel lost.

One of the highlights of the game is the creation suite, any character you can think of has been created from real-life wrestlers to superheroes, presidents to video game characters - anyone you can imagine can either be created by yourself or are most likely already created and can be easily downloaded to add to your roster.

The first thing I did when I loaded the game for the first time was to download new arenas and characters and I wasn’t disappointed, the creativity was amazing and I saw some really cool designs all around, the creative suite is one of the best I have seen in a wrestling game.

The game is fun with a bunch of friends, but it really starts to struggle in single player. Though it’s fun having matches with the AI - mostly when it’s a match with lots of opponents and chaos ensues - but without a career mode or GM (General Manager) mode the game starts to fall flat. Random matches are ok but this game would be greatly improved with a mode that you can progress through.

There is a Federation System, which lets you assign characters to a roster and create belts for them to fight for, but it just feels hollow and almost as if it’s the first step to something more interesting. I understand budget restraints, but a GM mode is something people still want in WWE games almost 12 years after it was taken out and would be a great way to attract people to the game.

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