Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Review: RetroMania Wrestling

RetroMania Wrestling, the official sequel to WrestleFest, is now available! Just this week it was released on Nintendo Switch, and I’ve been playing it on my PC via Steam. If you’re a fan of pick-up-and-play arcade wrestling video games, then this is the one for you!

With 16 playable characters, including legends like Road Warriors Hawk and Animal and modern day combatants like Nick Aldis and John Morrison, RetroMania wrestling is both a celebration of the glory days of wrestling and an evolution of a tried-and-true formula made popular 30 years ago when WrestleFest hit arcades.

Taking into consideration all of the player customization options, you can have more than 50 match variations! In RetroMania Wrestling, you can take part in any of the following match types: Singles, Tag Team, 6-Man Tag, 8-Man Tag, Three Way, Four Way, and the Retro Rumble. All are customizable with these match options: Elimination, Tornado, and Steel Cage! With the Steel Cage, you will have two options: the chain link and the classic big blue steel cage! I’m partial to the big blue steel cage because I grew up watching the WWF in the 1990s.

In addition to the aforementioned match variations, there’s an epic story mode where you can play as Johnny Retro (i.e., John Morrison). I don’t want to give away anything because it’s well written and highly entertaining. Let’s just say you’ll come face-to-face with a variety of wrestlers, be put in interesting predicaments, and encounter witty dialogue the entire time.

In the Ten Pounds of Gold mode you’ll work your way through a string of wrestlers, similar to an old-school fighting game like Mortal Kombat, until you reach the top of the ladder, where you’ll challenge The National Treasure Nick Aldis for his NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship (i.e., the Ten Pounds of Gold). I love what the NWA is doing, so I was thrilled to have this mode included in the game.

RetroMania Wrestling has a really unique grappling and reverse system that is important to understand if you want to master it. It’s very logical, as you make your way from weaker moves to stronger moves, eventually ending up with your finisher. However, if you try and skip ahead, you’ll end up in trouble. I love how it reflects the cadence of a real match, just make sure you’re familiar with it so you can get the most fun out of this game.

I’m really loving RetroMania Wrestling. It’s a substantive arcade wrestling experience that is well worth the price of admission; and Retrosoft Studios is supporting the game with upcoming DLC, including new characters. Clearly, this game was a labor of love. I remember playing an early build of it at the ECW Arena (i.e., 2300 Arena) before COVID and being impressed by the look and feel of the game. Since then it has gotten 10 times better. With a ton of customization options, classic and modern grapplers, numerous arenas, and surprisingly deep wrestling mechanics, RetroMania Wrestling is a game that everyone needs to buy. It lives up to the hype . . . and then some!

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