In the world of wrestling, the narrative is what's most important, but what would happen if a wrestler didn't believe in the narrative? What if there was a wrestler who was so consumed in the spectacle and showmanship of wrestling that they genuinely believed everything they saw in the ring was real? WrestleQuest is a Paper Mario-inspired RPG set in a world of toys where wrestling is the most important aspect of life. Follow the story of an unlikely duo, and the up and comer Muchacho Man Randy Santos and the heir to the NPW Brink Logan as they dismantle their way through every challenge that stands in their way to the top of the PAW. Will they make it to the top shelf or will they be forgotten at the bottom of the toy box?
Much like the Paper Mario games that inspired them, WrestleQuest gets a lot of mileage out of it's chosen aesthetic of toys. Major locations are referred to as "play sets". The new equipment for your characters are interchangeable limbs, plastic clothing or actual in package accessories and of course, the enemy variety; who didn't get all their toys to fight each other when they were kids? You'll fight your way through action figures, legally distinct building block minifigures, plushies, army men, virtual pets, etc. There is a good chance that everything you've ever done with your toys gets represented here in some way.
My biggest concern when I first discovered WrestleQuest was whether it was possible to make a turn based wrestling game engaging; luckily, WrestleQuest delivers. Just like in the Paper Mario series, you will need to time your button presses to maximise damage but on top of that, each character has a selection of tag team moves, Chrono Trigger style. Being a wrestling game, you will obviously need to pin enemies to win matches. Once an enemy reaches zero HP, you will then be prompted to pin them, entering a small button timing minigame. Get your timing right and you defeat the enemy but mess it up and the enemy recovers. As you level up, some characters gain abilities that will instantly knock out an enemy when inflicted with certain status effects. Most important of all is making sure the audience is enjoying the match. The better you do, the more bonuses you get in battle; do poorly and you'll gain some hefty penalties. Each character can be assigned a "Hype Type", which gives them variables for certain abilities and makes the audience more excited when performing certain actions. Do you give your characters a hype type to maximise their ability to hype up a crowd or one to make up for their weaknesses?
Another one of WrestleQuest's strong suits is its writing. Going through Randy Santos' story and unravelling why he looks up to wrestling legend Macho Man Randy Savage and his inability to understand that wrestling matches are scripted gets a good laugh out of me every time. Meanwhile, you'll switch up and journey through Brink Logan's more serious story about honouring his family and his roots as the son of the owner of NPW, which is clearly inspired by Shane McMahon. This dichotomy gives WrestleQuest the same kind of feeling you'd get playing a game in the Yakuza series.
- Fantastic theming
- Engaging combat
- Fun writing
When the player is first introduced to Brink Logan, you find out that he works for his father as a Jobber for the NPW (for those who don't know wrestling lingo, a Jobber is someone strong who is written to lose matches to make newcomers seem more powerful than they actually are) and at the same time, you are introduced to alternate objectives in combat, things like hitting an enemy with a specific move or exploiting an enemy inflicted with a status effect or debuff before ultimately taking a dive. This felt like a fantastic way to implement the duty of a jobber into this turn based battle system but after the first fight, this idea is dropped and only shows up again in boss fights as a way to gain strong items after fights and I found that to be a massive disappointment.
The implementation of having to pin your opponents to defeat them slows the combat down to a crawl. Once you get an enemy down to 0 HP, you then have to wait until one of your party member's next turns to initiate a pin and if you manage to mess up the pin, you will then have to waste a turn reducing the enemy's health back to zero and then another turn to initiate another pin. I love the theme of this but boy does it slow the game down considerably.
Early on in the game, you are introduced to the game's morality system. Certain actions you take in the story will make your characters lean towards being a face or a heel (good or evil) and your party will gain different benefits depending on their morality. While I was playing, I decided that I wanted to play Randy Santos as a face and Brink Logan as a heel so I could experience what both sides were like. To my dismay, I learned about 4-5 hours in that the morality system isn't exclusive to each character, meaning I was at neutral and receiving no morality benefits.
- Not enough done with Brink Logan
- Combat can be slow and tedious
- Morality isn't exclusive to each character
Final Score: 6/10
WrestleQuest is a game that I adore but I ended up getting more and more disappointed in it the further I got into the game. It's an idea I love but unfortunately, it mishandled some of its ideas in ways I was not expecting. Ultimately, it is a great game but WrestleQuest ends up dropping the ball on some very obvious concepts.
Thank you for checking out our WrestleQuest Switch review and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: