Wrestlefest Premium iOS review
If I simply listed to you the premise and features of THQ’s modern revamping of 90’s arcade classic WWF Wrestlefest, at the very least, you’d probably be like “sounds cool, dude”. Eight famous Wrestlers from various eras with more available every month as DLC, six different game zones, and four arenas. Couple this with online multiplayer and the fact that it has the same two-“button” and “joystick” control as the original, let's say you’re a wrestling fan, you’re probably foaming at the mouth at this very moment.
Unfortunately, it’s the execution that doesn’t really come through here. Firstly, the presentation is odd. Though it doesn’t exactly have the 16-bit-esque graphics of the original game, they do seem to be purposefully using a simplistic art style. This is strange, because not only are animations poorly done and jumpy, but all of the wrestlers are really doughy-looking instead the buff, brawny sprites you’d expect in a game about badass dudes. This is especially disappointing because the audience in the background is much more animated and fluid than the wrestlers, and the whole time I’m just like, why? Still, they do hit the retro aesthetic they’re trying for, and at least at first I was impressed with how authentically vintage the game feels.
The audio is similarly hit or miss. The music, while I don’t think it is the real 90’s soundtrack, is just as faux-retro as the graphics, though not so much so that it ever hurt my enjoyment of the game. In fact, at parts the music is catchy and fun, and succeeds at putting me in that old-school WWF mood I associate with a game like this. However, all other sound design is illogically and bizarrely bad. As soon as a round starts, all the music drops out and a looping canned audience sound begins, and literally drowns out everything else for the rest of forever. The announcer’s voice only intermittently breaks through as to be understandable, and even the sound effects for wrestlers punching, kicking, and throwing each other to the floor are reduced to mere whispers by the constant and thunderous applause. Headphones don’t help at all, and neither the BGM or SFX toggle in the options menu do anything to eliminate it. So either you have no sound, or it’s Audiene-Fest 2012 up in here 24/7.
The controls are easy enough to understand, but even allowing some amount of awkwardness for how crappy fake buttons and joysticks on a touchscreen always are, they’re still pretty stiff. Most of the time your wrestler does what you want him to pretty much as commanded, but not usually before rapidly touching the button you wanted to cleanly press for a half-second. In other words, they’re workable, but they never feel good, so take that one however you will.
Finally, the online component was a little disappointing. It has a bunch of great features like random matchmaking and local wireless, and it syncs pretty seamlessly with GameCenter, but I could almost never find someone to play with, and I when I did, there was a bunch of lag even with a perfect connection, and it was glitchy as all get-out.
Bottom line, Wrestlefest Premium is not so great, but if you loved the original game, or are a huge sucker for all things early 90’s wrestling, it’s worth the three bucks for a hour or two of weird nostalgia.