RetroMania Wrestling Xbox One Review

April 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Game: RetroMania Wrestling  Publisher: Retrosoft Studios  Developer: Retrosoft Studios

Genre: Fighting  Players: 1-8  Age Rating: 12+ 

Other console/handheld formats: PS4, Nintendo Switch Related Sites: RetroMania Wrestling

Who would have thought that we’d be getting a sequel to 1991’s WWF WrestleFest in 2021? WWF WrestleFest was of course a well-received wrestling game developed in Japan that many have fond memories of. RetroMania Wrestling is a more than worthy follow-up, and with its retro stylings and arcade-style fun, it’s also a nice contrast from 2K’s WWE games. 

Sans a WWE license, RetroMania Wrestling plucks its 16 strong roster of past and present wrestlers from the likes of the NWA as well as Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore. Names include the aforementioned Tommy Dreamer as well as the likes of Matt Cardona, Nick Aldis, Jeff Cobb, Colt Cabana, Hawk and Animal of the Road Warriors, and more. You could say that Johnny Retro is the face of the game, considering that he is the lead character in the story mode, and if you haven’t heard of Retro before, then you’d be forgiven as this is the name given to WWE’s John Morrison in the game, and not a name that he has ever used in any wrestling promotion in reality. 

Mechanically, the game is sound. Grapples are timing based in the same vein as the likes of Fire Pro Wrestling, and there’s light, medium and strong grapples, although you can only fully take advantage of the latter two when you have enough momentum to pull them off, as trying to do so otherwise will result in a low momentum warning as well as your attempted move being automatically reversed. You have three blocks of momentum, meaning you can only make use of light moves in the early stages of a match, while then being able to add in medium grapples when you have enough momentum to reach the second block, and finally being able to make use of the strongest grapples when you reach the third and final block. Also, if you fill all three blocks entirely, you are then able to make use of your finishing move. Obviously, momentum goes up and down based on how you are faring in a match, so it is possible to lose access to, say, your medium move set and then earn it back by filling your momentum through your actions once again. Such a momentum system definitely goes some way to capturing real life wrestling. 

RetroMania Wrestling

There’s quite a number of arenas included in the game.

As for reversals, these are not timing based and have you mashing the button to attempt one, although you have to guess which type of grapple (or Irish whip) your opponent is going to pull off and then use of the corresponding button to hopefully reverse it. There’s also an element of randomness, which means that even guessing the correct move doesn’t guarantee a reversal. It’s a fine system all around, although some might think that the game relies on button mashing a little too much, as you also have to mash the buttons during grapple lock-ups, when you are locked in a submission as well as when you are being covered for a pin attempt. Still, there’s not as much button mashing as was present in WrestleFest, by any means.

Something a little awkward to make use of in the game are the melee moves, meaning it can be a little difficult to line up kicks and punches in order to actually connect with your opponent, and this worsens even further with each extra man in the ring. With the latter said, some may find themselves making use of a lot more grapples than melee attacks, although such is the nature of the 2D sprites. It takes a little time to get used to it, although it is possible to do so if you persevere with it. 

The game has a tutorial in the story mode, although for some reason it is missing key information such as how to reverse moves as well as how to perform finishers. It’s a tutorial that hardly feels comprehensive and actually feels like an incomplete portion of the game because of this. Perhaps if it ever becomes a separate entity from the story mode, the developer (Retrosoft Studios) should think about fleshing it out. 

RetroMania Wrestling may be lacking in creation options as well as any form of management modes, and even lacks online multiplayer at this point in time, although the game still has a decent amount of options. You have your story mode, in which Johnny Retro has returned to action after a sustained period away. 10 pounds of gold, on the other hand, has you fighting your way to get your hands on the NWA Championship, and once you do your task is then to defend it. Match types include single competition, three way and four-way matches, tag team matches (with Tornado, six-man, eight-man, and elimination variants), steel cage and royal rumble style matches, and there’s support for up to eight players locally.

RetroMania Wrestling is a pick up and play wrestling game that also has a decent amount of depth, and it certainly offers a fun time as well. The retro stylings add plenty of personality to the game, and there’s enough options in there for now, with the developer not ruling out additions over time, with future wrestlers already promised as well as the potential for new modes. With everything said, RetroMania Wrestling is definitely well worth a look, and it’s also a wrestling game that feels like it was somewhat of a passion project for all involved, and something tells me that it is just going to get better and better over time.