Oh, when WrestleFest for the iPad found its way into my hot little
hand, I rejoiced. I had spent a small fortune on the original
arcade incarnation and have fond memories of Big Boss Man and Hulk
Hogan suplexing their way to coin-op greatness.
The iPad version, at first glance, seems to be a faithful
reproduction. It brings together some present stars like John Cena
and Rey Mysterio with some old favourite Legends like Stone Cold and
Randy Savage. Annoyingly, Big Boss Man and some other popular
characters are in-app purchases only. The game has several modes
including Royal Rumble, Road to Wrestlemania, Tag Team and
multiplayer, but the question is, how does it play?
The wrestlers are controlled via a virtual arcade joystick and a
couple of buttons at the bottom of the screen, similar to the old
arcade games. Instead of button mashing, you'll partake in a lot of
button swiping and at times, frustratingly finicky controls,
particularly when trying to tag your partner (It seems like you need
to be just in the right place to do this).
The wrestlers are portrayed in a zoomed out perspective to the
original, shrinking the characters to such a level that, I believe,
contributes a less satisfying bone crunching experience. Computer
opponents still come back after being pummelled but even so, just
button swiping seems to win most matches so the difficulty level is
not particularly high. Maybe times have changed too much, but the
jerkiness of the animations is a bit too hard to swallow when you
are playing a game with HD at the end - some animations seem to have
only a couple of frames.
The sound seems to keep in with the 90s theme, being a good
rendition of an 8-bit retro memory. Unfortunately, I think times
have moved on and unless the gameplay is there, the graphics and
sound have to represent the greater detail and animation available
to today's portable devices to adequately represent the strength,
the action and the excitement that comes with wrestling.
Despite this, WrestleFest is still one of the better wrestling games
on the iPad and is worth a shot for wrestling fans although is not
recommended for anyone wanting to relive the joys of the original.