WrestleQuest is an aggressively amorous love letter to the 1990s, mixing an old-school JRPG with pro-wresters and setting it all in a kid’s toy box. Yes, that does mean both Jack the Snake Roberts and Mr Potato Head exist within this game world. It’s sheer madness!
Of all the 90’s influences, it is professional wrestling that stands astride WrestleQuest like a lurid lycra-clad colossus. The Sport of Kings’ fingerprints can be seen everywhere – like Gunther’s fingerprints on a particularly pale-skinned jobber after a few too many chest chops. Take Randy “Muchacho Man” Santos and Brink Logan, our paired protagonists on the treacherous path to global wrestling superstardom. Both are clear homages to wrestling icons Macho Man Randy Savage and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart – not exactly subtle, but then neither is pro-wrestling. Not only that, but toy versions of wrestlers from across the spectrum will turn up to help and hinder. From Jeff Jarrett and The Legion of Doom to Andre the Giant, it’s a who’s who of legendary greats. In short, if you are a grap fan you will love the copious wrestling nods and homages – there are more of them than you can shake a large foam finger at.
But you won’t be wrestling with your controller’s sticks and button combos as you play. WrestleQuest is about as old-school a JRPG as they come. It’s an early Final Fantasy with a healthy dose of vitamins and saying your prayers. Wondering across the charming retro 2D pixelated over world or dungeon, meet some baddies, and engage in turn-based fisticuffs is the name of the game.
Turn-based combat is initially tremendous fun. Rather than spells or summons, you can use ‘gimmicks’ or get your manager involved for some referee-baiting shenanigans. Tag-team and trio moves are spectacular showstoppers and require careful management of your wrestling stable to unleash.
QTE button prompts are required to make attacks more effective or to pin a downed opponent. The QTEs soon get repetitive, so what proves much more fun and engaging is building up the hype meter. Here you must do your utmost to impress the watching crowd with varied moves and zinging taunts to receive helpful buffs. Fail to listen to the audience and your plummeting hype meter will make encounters far more difficult. It’s a wonderful mechanic and leads to matches that feel far more authentic in their back-and-forth momentum than anything seen in WWE 2K23 or AEW: Fight Forever. WrestleQuest may star luchador cockroaches and hockey-puck-wielding moose, but that doesn’t stop it from delivering better pro-wrestling action than any other wrestling game this year.
It’s unfortunate that WrestleQuest rather overstays its welcome. At 30 hours in length, the game feels bloated, and this is exacerbated by the constant and unavoidable enemy encounters that really kill the pace. A dodgy save system certainly adds to this frustration, as do oddly lengthy loading screens. Still, that doesn’t stop WrestleQuest from mostly being a joyous, fun, and entertaining RPG. As such WrestleQuest bears a resemblance to the current Bloodline storyline in WWE; it’s very slow going but once it sucks you in you’ll be hopelessly addicted.