I’ll be brutally honest. I’m not a huge fan of wrestling. It’s a product of both my sheltered childhood and my lack of interest in the sport, but WWE Legends of WrestleMania has kindled childhood memories of years past, memories which I no longer thought I had. The elementary school arguments on the playground concerning who was stronger, royal rumbles in the family room of my friend’s house while their parents were out picking up frozen pizzas, and sneaking views of late night matches during sleep overs all came rushing into my head with the first glance at the title screen and subsequently the first cinematic.
WWE Legends of Wrestlemania is a pretty straight forward wrestling title. The game features forty characters from the first fifteen WrestleManias who are sure to hit that nostalgic nerve, and over 100 characters after you import the Smackdown vs. RAW 2009 roster (including your created character). In addition to the larger-than-life character models, there is a fully animated 3D crowd which, though blurry at times, adds to the effect that this game’s scale is also larger-than-life. And, of course it still has all the wrestling that you would come to expect from a YUKE’s Co. Ltd title. From the controls to the video montages that the WWE made specifically for WWE Legends of WrestleMania, this game has a reminiscent value that hits a very sweet spot, a spot which hasn’t been hit in a long time.
It is immediately apparent that this game controls different than the Smackdown vs. RAW series. The shoulder buttons and the right analog stick have no uses whatsoever. This leaves the entire game completely controlled by the left analog stick (or the D-pad) and the four face buttons. Though it may seem like a terrible mechanic that reduces the depth that you’ve grown used to, rest assured that it does not. It adds to the nostalgia as if this is a game from your childhood, and captures the depth for those willing to take the plunge.
The main single player mode of the game, which they’ve called Wrestlemania Tour Mode, has three different gameplay options: Relive, Rewrite and Redefine. With Relive, you’re given the opportunity to relive history by taking control of the winner of a past WresleMania. Rewrite gives you the chance to change the outcome. You take the place of the loser and are tasked with rewriting history. In Redefine, you get to change the match rules, who was involved, what arena it was played on, etc. For each of these tour options, you’re given optional objectives to help in making a faithful representation of the events you’re taking part in. When you complete enough of them, you’re given a medal which you can view in the Hall of Fame — and Achievements, of course.
In my time spent with the game, I felt my childhood coming back to me. The intro music for each character, the arenas, the character models, even the WWE edited footage from old Wrestlemanias all combine to create an experience that casuals and hardcores can both enjoy. Top it all off with the biggest roster in a YUKE’s Wrestling game, Xbox Live support and simple yet depth-filled controls, and we’re looking at a game that is getting my thumbs excited for some bodyslams off the turnbuckle.