Category: Games Seller:THQ Requirements: iOS 5.0 or later Compatibility: iPad (iPhone, iPod touch version available) File Size: 166MB Version Reviewed: Price: $3.99 (free Lite Version and $2.99 iPhone / iPod touch version available) Age Rating: 1.01
Seems that every time I review a wrestling game for iOS or Nintendo, I get nostalgic for the grapplers of my younger years. I’m not going to do that here, although WrestleFest HD certainly warrants it. It’s a wonderful recreation of the classic WWF Wrestlefest arcade game, retaining the charm of the original while slightly updating the appearance and heavily updating roster. It’s the roster that’s important, because although I mainly wanted to control Jake “The Snake” Roberts, my children were all about John Cena. Why? I don’t think they’ve seen him wrestle once. It’s because he plays Fred’s dad in those Fred movies on Nickelodeon.
So, we’ll focus on roster for a moment. WrestleFest HD starts you off with eight grapplers: the aforementioned Roberts and Cena, along with Rey Mysterio, The Rock, Randy Orton, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker. For $0.99, you can download the first expansion pack that includes Big Boss Man, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk and Sheamus. THQ promises additional wrestlers and arenas every 30 days.
Each of the wrestlers come with faithful physical recreations and their signature moves, although said moves don’t quite have the impact in the game as they do in the ring. In my first match, I was able to deliver Jake “The Snake’s” DDT finisher, but the Big Boss Man kicked out after a one count (locked wrestlers are available now for computer control). Rather, you have to wear down your opponent’s energy with various moves while retaining enough of your own to get the pin.
Control is handled by a virtual joystick on the bottom left and punch/kick buttons on the bottom right. The two buttons perform different tasks depending upon your wrestler’s placement: on the turnbuckle, above a prone opponent, locked up, etc. The combination of moves can prove confusing, but I prefer this over a multiple button scheme as it allows you to focus on the action, not on the positioning of your fingers.
If all you did was wrestle in single matches, that would be enough. But THQ provides a full console-like experience in the diverse match styles. Exhibition Match is for quick bouts, while Royal Rumble, Gauntlet, and Tag Team matches will be familiar to fans. There’s even a Saturday’s Night Main Event Tournament, as well as a Road to Wrestlemania series of challenges in which you take a single WWF/WWE superstar (you can’t create your own wrestler) through various bouts in an attempt to win five different WWE titles.
I didn’t even know there were five titles. Does King of the Ring still matter?
Of course, with a game like this, multiplayer is important. As such, THQ has included Game Center support for wireless matches. I’m not sure if iPad players can take on iPhone wrestlers, but will find out soon enough.
And that actually leads me to one of my complaints about the game. It’s too bad THQ didn’t make this a universal app. The price for both versions is fair ($3.99 for iPad vs. $2.99 for iPhone and iPod touch), but it doesn’t seem to me the versions are so different that they require different downloads.
The other complaint isn’t so much an issue with the game as with the typical iOS virtual controls. Developer Seed Studio did a good job with what they have, but the lack of physical feedback somehow takes away from the fighting aspect…it doesn’t feel quite as real. Ironic? Maybe, but the act of locking up with an opponent and tossing him against the ring ropes feels kind of hollow here.
Still, WrestleFest HD is a great fighting game that otherwise lovingly captures the spirit of the original while modernizing it for today’s iOS devices. And as new wrestling packs are announced, it’ll only get better. Terry Taylor? Owen Hart? Mr. Perfect? How long until we can find out what would have happened if Steamboat beat Hogan. And how about a Georgia Championship Wrestling pack with Steve O., Steve Kiern, JYD, Tony Atlas and others. I’d be all over that.
Oh, is that the nostalgia again? Sorry…I promised I wouldn’t do that.