booking revolution

His name was Caliber Winfield. He was a friend of mine. After booking him in a brutal tables, ladders, and explosives match, he left this mortal coil as he entered it; screaming bloody murder.

The suplex, from the top of a ladder to the outside of the ring into a mess of the aforementioned tables, weapons, and explosives, was a high spot for the ages…and the last one of young Caliber’s life.

The next show was literally dedicated to his honor.

That’s the kind of chaos you get up to in MDickie’s Booking Revolution on iOS and Android. Technically a ‘parody’ game – allowing it to feature some ‘real life’ wrestlers – Booking Revolution is anything but a joke. It’s one part Franchise, one part ECW, and a game brimming with imagination, personality, and balls-out insanity.
It works like this: After creating your player character, you select a promotion: The WWE-esque AMW, UFC-inspired Strong Style Wrestling, or one of the several of Indie Feds. You are now the head booker.

From there the game is broken into two sections; the gameplay side and the backstage side.

Lets start with gameplay. On a given show you book several matches, with the goal being to entertain the crowd and generate good ratings. So, you need to have good matches and that means switching between the characters in order to secure the proper ebb and flow – the controls are standard, with buttons for attack, taunt, grapple, and run; and like WWE No Mercy, you fill a ‘special’ meter that lets you launch your wrestler’s finishing move.

Matches are graded on a star-based rating system that also ebbs and flows based on the intensity of the match; so unlike WWE2k, the objective isn’t to win, it’s to have the best match possible. It’s more akin to a Tony Hawk game in that regard.

Booking wise, your charged with putting on as entertaining a show as possible, building to monthly PPVs and special events. The idea is to have faces vs. heels, and also have competitors engaged in a pre-existing rivalry. If there isn’t a rivalry, you can always start one via a pre-match promo.

And yes, tables, ladders, chairs, cages, fire, glass, it’s all here if you choose to use it. As are multi-man matches, guest referees, run-ins, and other stipulations to add a bit of a jolt to a match. There’s also ‘real life’ animosity to consider and other backstage factors; like wrestlers that hate getting hardcore.

Speaking of backstage, that’s entirely different part of Booking Revolution, but just as juicy. Dominating the ratings will take some time. Unpopular wrestlers will need to work harder, and take more risks to get that good rating – but if they do, their popularity will see a spike. Popular wrestlers cost more to book, but are more likely to get a good rating for doing less. The better your shows are, the more people will show up to the next one, the higher your ratings soar, and the more money you make.

Matches of course take a toll, and wrestler health and stamina play a part – engaging in a brutal five-star affair at a PPV means they might not be at 100 percent for the next TV taping. Of course you can still book them…but that may piss them off, and make them not want to resign come contract time.

(You can also fully customize names and outfits and movesets. So you can make change Jock Lazer to Brock Lesnar, Jimmi Sierra to John Cena, and so on.)

It really does feel like running a wrestling promotion, from crazy characters to insane happenings; wrestlers demanding costume changes, the ring crew forgetting the actual ring, black outs, fines, the gang’s all here, as they say. This results in a situation where Booking Revolution feels like a perfect combination of Madden’s standard ‘Franchise’ mode and The Oregon Trail’s gameplay loop of random hilarious and heartbreaking happenstance.

And it is here Booking Revolution blows WWE 2K out of the water. My issue with the WWE 2k series, and its Universe mode, is that it’s a sandbox. The run-ins, title shots, auto-generated cards require a hefty dose of your imagination to be exciting; the same goes for career – there’s no goal or challenge. The game is too easy to make the challenge of winning alone exciting.

What Booking Revolution does is provide you a jungle gym instead of a sandbox – the goal is to climb to the top, but there’s a variety of fun things to get upto along the way. It’s a real challenge to put on good, mostly safe matches night-in and night-out while managing health, ego, booking fees and finances.

It’s wonderful. There’s a spirit to this game that’s lacking in the major WWE games. Like ECW, it’s rough around the edges (even feeling a bit grimy), but makes the absolute most of what it has to the point where it’s nearly impossible to go back after sampling it. Hopefully Vince stays far, far away and doesn’t attempt a buy-out any time soon.

Booking Revolution is available on iOS, Android, and Ouya (yes, really).