Action Arcade Wrestling has the most appropriate title in the world of wrestling. There’s action, duh, it features pick up and play arcade controls (no UFC style configurations here), plus there’s an abundance of wrestling.
Understandably there won’t be an overview on the narrative – there isn’t one. There aren’t campaign options either, so if you’re looking for some melodrama and a career in the sport, watch WWE/soap operas and perhaps get down the gym and follow your dreams.
Do we have to have a campaign option? I almost exclusively play games in solo mode and would argue that it’s essential to have a story of some sort. It’s not missed in Action Arcade Wrestling. Pick your exhibition match, choose the rules and who’ll fight, then get on with it.
There isn’t any showboating with official tracks by Saliva, Nickelback or Run The Jewels. The fighters are already in the ring as the match starts with their dukes up. The only exception would be tag matches and the Royal Rumble as the contenders enter the ring a few moments from each other. So what modes are there?
Action Arcade Wrestling offers the following:
- 1 vs 1
- 2 vs 2, and 3 vs 3 Tornado Tag
- Battle Royal
- Royal Rumble
- 3-Way, and 4-Way Dance
- 4-Person Elimination
- 1 vs 2
- Tag Team
- 3 vs 3, 4 vs 4, and 5 vs 5 Tag Team
- 3 vs 3, 4vs 4, and 5 vs 5 Elimination Tag
Quantity doesn’t mean quality, but these are a good selection and add to the replayability. While there are chairs to imprint your opponent’s faces on and out of the ring experiences, there aren’t any backyard-like shenanigans.
Pulling off a move is easy with a good selection of punches, kicks and grapples, along with a direction for modifiers. It makes the game massively accessible to young children, who you can proceed to practice on until you’re good. Saying for a friend. Even the signature more is an easy feat and nothing like that Battlegrounds nonsense. The only issue with combat would be the targeting as during a Battle Royal or Royal Rumble, it’s tricky to lock on to a specific person.
Something about Action Arcade Wrestling feels a little fan-made in the positive sense. While it lacks a little polish and doesn’t have the same explosive elements as WWE games, the character modelling is pretty decent, and the movesets complement the animation. The thumbnails of available fighters on the Switch in handheld make it a little hard to appreciate, but in-game, the graphics are impressive.
If you’re a wrestling fan – new or old, you might be looking for some licensed fighters. There aren’t any ‘out of the box’, but the line-up is diverse enough to make it enjoyable. However… the community in this game is brilliant, and one of the features is being able to download custom characters – even on the Switch! Before my first match, I downloaded Brett Hart, Kane, Optimus Prime and Beastman from He-Man. The golden age of wrestling.
VICO Game Studio provide the option to dip into these custom characters from the menu, but you’ll need to download the companion app to make your own. It’s free, of course.
I’m pleased to tell you that the sound effects are also good. Each hit on the turnbuckle or your opponent hitting the deck is brilliant – even the commentary is pretty decent as it’s neither excessive nor annoying. Considering its counterparts, Action Arcade Wrestling did good on the minimalist approach.
Is there anything I didn’t like? The loading times were frequent and a bit sloppy. Text will show ‘Loading wrestler 1’ and so forth, and it looked ugly. My biggest beef was the exiting of a match each time I paused it. Reviewing games while the family is home is full of interruptions, so naturally, I will pause it occasionally. Upon returning, there would be a dialog box saying the sign up has changed, and I’d be logged out. Fortunately, there’s no career progress lost, but it’s annoying nevertheless.
Is Action Arcade Wrestling the greatest wrestling game of all time? Probably not, but it’s the best title I’ve played in the last few years and will therefore be my go-to for the genre aside from WWF WrestleFest, but I don’t own the arcade machine. And considering the customisation options, this has a ton of replayability; there’s no faffing about with overdramatic storylines, and just about anyone can play it without having to squeeze into tight pants. That’s optional.