RetroMania Wrestling Review
Since the boom of professional wrestling in the 1980s, there has been a non-stop stream of new wrestling games to play. Although the biggest professional wrestling video games of today are relegated to home consoles, wrestling video games of the past also had a presence in arcades. One of the most famous wrestling arcade games is WWF WrestleFest, a classic game that is still remembered today. WrestleFest fans seeking a similar experience are in luck, as RetroMania Wrestling serves as a spiritual successor to the early 90s arcade hit, even if it didn’t exactly end up in its current state. RetroMania Wrestling plays exactly like an updated version of WWF WrestleFest, albeit without the WWF brand name. While it may not carry the WWF or WWE name, RetroMania Wrestling still has one of WWE’s most active wrestlers on its roster in the form of Johnny Retro, the RetroMania version of WWE’s John Morrison. Johnny Retro is the main character of RetroMania Wrestling’s story mode, which is both one of the game’s more interesting modes and also one of its most glaring flaws. RetroMania Wrestling’s story mode sees Johnny Retro return to the ring after being injured by popular independent professional wrestler Zack Saber Jr. Retro’s quest for revenge sees him come into contact with various indie wrestling personalities and old-school legends, such as Blue World Order, Tommy Dreamer, and Jeff Cobb. The cutscenes are mostly static drawings, but the writing is strong and hardcore wrestling fans will get a kick out of all the references within. True hardcore wrestling fans who watch more than WWE will get the most out of RetroMania Wrestling’s story mode, as it is written to appeal directly to them. It makes clever nods to various events in the professional wrestling business, from things that happened in independent promotions in North America to scenarios in New Japan Pro Wrestling. It even features an appearance by professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, so the story has some deep cuts for those who follow the industry. Like most other professional wrestling video games, story events are usually the reason for wrestling matches to take place. Players will compete in a series of wrestling matches to advance the plot, though RetroMania Wrestling makes things more interesting by giving players some important decisions to make outside the ring as well. Often players are given dialogue options or allowed to make decisions that will change the course of the story and may even change Johnny Retro’s alignment as a “face” (good guy) or a “heel” ( bad person). It goes back to some of the most popular wrestling games ever made, like WWF No Mercy and WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth, which allows players to make choices to direct the course of their in-game career. The big downside to RetroMania Wrestling, however, is that the story is incomplete. Players can finish it in about an hour or two, and it ends with a head-scratching cliffhanger. While the story is fun as it goes, RetroMania Wrestling players will be left asking, “That’s it?” when the credits roll. And unfortunately, that’s the overall theme for RetroMania Wrestling. It’s a barebones wrestling video game experience that feels unfinished in its current state. There are only 16 wrestlers on the roster and everyone plays pretty much the same, not to mention there are really only a few unique game modes and match types. There’s a mode where players can go after Nick Aldis for his NWA Championship, a Royal Rumble-style mode, and then local multiplayer options, and that’s about it. There doesn’t seem to be any real unlockable content for players to pursue, and in fact, players should be able to unlock all achievements/trophies at any given time. From its short story to the general lack of game modes, it’s clear from the jump that RetroMania Wrestling is sorely lacking in content. Unfortunately, the core wrestling gameplay doesn’t really make up for the lack of things to do, as it’s pretty barebones as well. This is to be expected since RetroMania Wrestling is the follow-up to a 1991 arcade game, but it will probably still leave gamers feeling sad. The actual wrestling in RetroMania Wrestling revolves around a meter and button press timing. When a grapple begins, players who press one of the face buttons at the right time will be given the opportunity to perform a wrestling move. The higher their meter is filled, the more powerful moves they can perform. Basic strikes, running attacks, and hitting opponents with steel chairs are also on the table, but that about sums up the core gameplay mechanics of RetroMania Wrestling. Gameplay-wise, RetroMania Wrestling doesn’t give players much of a reason to buy the game. The in-ring action is serviceable but nothing special and there just isn’t much to do. This issue is exacerbated by RetroMania Wrestling’s price tag, which puts the game at a staggering $29.99. Considering the amount of content players get for their money, RetroMania Wrestling is extremely overpriced and will likely leave many professional wrestling fans feeling shortchanged. That said, most hardcore pro wrestling fans will probably still get a kick out of the game. The retro arcade graphics look great, and it’s fun to see popular indie wrestlers represented in a video game. RetroMania Wrestling’s story mode is entertaining throughout, and far surpasses the story modes in other modern wrestling games, like WWE 2K20, for example. There’s also something to be said for its polish, as it doesn’t seem to have any major bugs or technical issues. RetroMania Wrestling is a game designed with a very specific type of professional wrestling fan in mind, and those individuals can enjoy it for what it is. It has a good selection of arenas and a small but decent roster. The biggest problems with RetroMania Wrestling are its lack of content and high price, but maybe future updates will make it a more full-featured game that matches its asking price. RetroMania Wrestling is out now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Today Technology reviewed the game on Xbox One.