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PAX East - First Look: Wrestle Story

While at PAX East, I had the privilege to play not one but two RPG wrestling games, WrestleQuest (which you can read my preview here) and Wrestle Story. And while both games are RPGs, they feel so vastly different. And I’m happy to say I’m just as excited about Wrestle Story as I am about WrestleQuest.

The first blaring difference is the art style. While WrestleQuest’s art feels inspired by traditional JRPGs like Final Fantasy, Wrestle Story’s art is much more like a Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, when I chatted with the devs about the art, I stated that it seems to be inspired by cartoons like Ultimate Muscle - the response I got was a big smile. The art is flashy and over-the-top, much like the sport it portrays. I’m all in on this art style.

But it’s not just the art that reminds me of cartoons. The writing is silly, in a good way, and the bosses are straight out of an anime. In the demo I played, I could wander around and explore the rich world of Wrestle Story. And before matches, two announcers (one face and one heel) talked about the competitors,

and it was a nice touch, a way to drive the story forward but still feel like wrestling. Between the goofy minions and the colorful landscape, I just couldn’t stop smiling and wanted to explore more.

The battle system is also much different than WrestleQuest. In Wrestle Story, you pull off moves by landing short quick-time events. Perfectly timing your actions will increase the damage you do as well. I wasn’t if the tag-team aspect would work since matches play out similarly to traditional RPGs, where you have your team on one side of the ring and your opponents on the other, but the action feels natural. And when you pull off a special move, it again taps into the Saturday morning nostalgia, having this anime feel.

As you progress, you’ll get new gear for your stable of wrestlers. Again, similar to RPGs, different gear will increase certain stats for each wrestler. There wasn’t a lot of equipment in the demo, but enough for me to get a sense of how deep and interesting this mechanic could get.

When the demo concluded, I was heartbroken. Not because the game didn’t meet my expectations, it exceeded them. But I wanted more. As a kid, I was a huge fan of M.U.S.C.L.E. men, and the NES game we got back in the day wasn’t great. Wrestle Story fills that void, and I can’t wait for this game to release.



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