Title: 5 Star Wrestling
Platform: PS3 (reviewed)
Developer: Serious Parody
Publisher: Serious Parody
Release date: March 10th 2015
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Let’s get this straight: 5 Star Wrestling does not take itself seriously. You won’t find the same deep system and gameplay found in 2K’s WWE franchise. As its developer’s name, Serious Parody, connotes it is somewhat a parody of today’s wrestling with clever wrestler’s names to sound (and somewhat) look similar to some of today’s stars; such as Harvee Dee (RVD a.k.a. Rob Van Dam) or Andy Organ (Randy Orton). So is 5 Star Wrestling a five star frog splash or does it fall flat on its face?
First the presentation is pretty basic and straightforward. No fireworks or fancy visuals. Long time wrestling fans will immediately recognized “alternate” versions of parodied wrestlers’ themes. Besides the atrociously long loading times (by today’s standards), you’re thrown into a simple menu with a few options to get yourself directly in the heat of the battle. You can either play a Quick Match, Exhibition or Challenges. Quick Match lets you quickly jump in a match by choosing 1 of the 8 wrestlers. Exhibition lets you choose an arena and match type on top of your wrestler. Finally, Challenges throws you a plethora of different objectives to accomplish such as Taunt your enemy or perform X-move. You’re given 60 minutes to accomplish 3 specific objectives per match. Accomplishing such objectives will net your Gold points which can in turn be used to unlock character skins, arena match types. A nice change of pace in today’s gaming world filled with DLC.
One of the game’s strong suits is that it is a bit simpler than WWE’s more intricate battle system. Punching will actually hit and you won’t constantly be on the receiving end of an ass whooping. Sure, veterans of the WWE franchise will laugh this off, but it is actually fun to see a wrestling game with a more simple premise and is also a bit of a throwback to the good old days back on the Super Nintendo with games like WWF Royal Rumble and WWF Raw. It gives more casual wrestling and gaming fans something fun to chew on. Countering, pinning your opponent or executing your character’s finishing move is easily accomplished by pressing the adequate on-screen button prompt. For example, when your opponent is about to grab you, pressing R2 as soon as it’s prompted on-screen, you will successfully counter your opponent’s move. Although this is where one of the game’s issues surfaces; timing can be off sometimes – even when perfectly timing a button prompt. And when you’ve dished out enough damage to your opponent you’ll be able to execute the finishing touches with the triangle button; but be careful as your opponent can counter if they are still in pretty good shape. Seeing the Finisher prompt does not always mean certain victory.
The AI isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed either. Although the opponent AI can be adjusted in the menu, some of the AI’s behavior can be seen as odd – even on Normal difficulty setting. Often times, while I was standing, awaiting for a counter-attack, my opponent would climb the top turnbuckle and wait….and wait…and wait. The only way to get him down was to either go near and suffer damage or exit the ring. This kind of behavior happened in 1 out of 2 matches; even during Challenges.
Although it’s a simpler game compared to 2K’s WWE juggernaut, this game has more bugs than you can shake a stick at. During a few of the many matches I’ve played, I’ve encountered a few glitches such as a character going through the ring after climbing the top rope, punching through the opponent without contact and opponents that magically stand up a mere half second after being knocked down, among other issues. Loading times are also atrocious when booting up the game and also once you’re about to jump in a Quick Match or Exhibition match. The lack of commentary can also make this a pretty mediocre experience. Parody commentating could’ve been the cherry on top of the sundae.
5 Star Wrestling definitely shows that some indie games can be (very) rough around the edges. Sure the game has a huge uphill battle due to some issues such a bareboned presentation, long loading times, lack of create a wrestler, limited roster, pretty steep pricing ($24.99 NA, €24.99 Euro and £19.99 UK) but wrestling fans wanting something different and more simple will find plenty to love here. The Challenge mode is sure to keep wrestling fans busy for quite sometime. Those who take the time to invest and dig deep in 5 Star Wrestling will be reminded that having to work through challenges to unlock new content is (still) pretty rewarding. You know the old saying: Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Winner by Pinfall
- Clever fake wrestler names
- Actually unlocking stuff is rewarding
- Huge move lists despite the limited roster
- Simpler mechanics than the WWE games
- Long loading times
- Annoying bugs and glitches
- Limited roster
- A bit expensive for the limited content
5 Star Wrestling is rated T for Teen in North America and PEGI 16+ in the UK due to blood, violence and realistic violence.