Last weekend at PAX East I got to play a hands-on demo of wrestling, an upcoming wrestling RPG from Mega Cat Studios and published by Skybound Games. The passion for the wrestling fandom and its storied heroes has manifested itself in all facets of the world in ways that will make any player in the internet wrestling community express their best Randy Savage “OH YEAH” when they pick him up again. end of this year.
If you want more, check out our PAX West 2022 WrestleQuest preview.
In the demo, I got to play as two characters whose stories will be told in parallel throughout the campaign with sneak peeks at a culmination between the two from studio head Zack Manko. This first is Muchacho Man, a babyface who begins his career in the ring with tutorials that lay out the basics of turn-based combat that make up the majority of by WrestleQuest approximately 40 hours of run time. Fans of the Paper Mario series will be at ease, as this take on turn-based combat forces you to be much more active in your battle strategy in what Manko called “the wrestling of RPGs.”
As the match begins, the players move to a square circle where they face their opponents. Face buttons allow for attacks, taunts, and more as you choose which inputs best reduce the health of your opponents. However, as any fan of wrestling knows, it’s not just a sport, it’s Sports and Entertainment.
Mega Cat’s solution to wrestling’s crowd angle comes into play with a hype meter resting below the battle arena on top of a boisterous crowd of NPCs. This hype meter is a constant tug of war between you and your enemies, where the hype that is in your favor can lead to additional buffs in combat, or debuffs should your opponents be the flashier athletes.
Having to juggle typical RPG status effects on top of this flowing hype meter adds a nice layer to traditional turn-based strategy where some may be inclined to deal massive damage as quickly as possible. The other aspect that the team was able to translate from the world of wrestling is the pin system. Once your opponent is low on health, a minigame can be activated from the same menu where you spend skill points to perform suplexes and a variety of other iconic wrestling moves. This mini game brings a mariogolf style meter where you have a limited amount of time to line up a sliding marker, with another sliding target 3 times to successfully immobilize an opponent. Again, this is all for the “RPG wrestling” the studio has set out to do here.
In terms of progression, the main thread seems to be the history of these two fighters. Manko mentioned an affinity for the JRPG-style narrative structure in RPGs compared to the narrative option typically offered in Western RPGs, and this affinity is central to the structure of the game. wrestling. While there are opportunities for players to be a face or a heel, such as in the pre-match promo cut, the variety in playstyle really comes down to that, how you approach your character’s abilities from who their manager is. up to what kind of wrestler who are in the ring.
In addition to fighting and following the story of our babyface and heel, players will be able to explore a world map filled with a variety of regions and biomes. The two areas I saw in the demo were standard grasslands where the Boy Man began his journey and a snowy town to the north where I was introduced to brokers Stag and Brink Logan. The variety of locations was welcomed in making the world of wrestling it feels alive, but the writing keeps it cohesive to make the difficulties of both characters feel balanced, helping on the ramp towards whatever matchup Mega Cat has in store.
Beyond the main quest, I’m also told that there will be a wide variety of side quests to take on on your journey, so much so that the 40 hours of gameplay could balloon to over 50 or 60 depending on the team. I wasn’t told much about what these missions will consist of, other than that each superstar featured in the game, from Macho Man Randy Savage to Jake the Snake Roberts, will have their own series of missions for special rewards. The full release will feature over 400 NPCs and 12 playable characters.
The game is a clear love letter to ’80s RPGs, sports fandom, and the golden age of wrestling. Characters in the game are even modeled to look like classic action figures with pronounced articulations and poseability. In addition to a combat system that puts an engaging spin on turn-based mechanics, as a fan of wrestling I’m looking forward to exploring the world and experiencing the side quest chains built around each wrestling legend. In my brief time with wrestling I feel safe echoing a fan-favorite chant for a great wrestling match to the effect that “this is awesome.”
WrestleQuest was previewed at PAX East 2023.