The wrestling genre is pretty slim in terms of selection. While other choices to the blockbuster franchise do not measure in terms of visual presentation, they do offer healthy alternatives to gameplay and entertainment. Then on the complete other side of the spectrum, there’s CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling; a wrestling game that promises to take your willing suspension of disbelief to a whole new level.
CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling Review
Stripped of complexity found in other wrestling games, CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling debuts in full spectacular arcade fashion. Emphasis on “arcade.” This does not make the game bad, but it is worth noting that the game purposely targets a market of accessibility and not just wrestling fans. With that said, if you like the wackiness of Lucha Libre or enjoyed the immersion of Lucha Underground, then this game is worth giving a shot. There are other points of the game that even a sports-centric wrestling fan, like myself, found enjoyable.
Gameplay – Simple, Easy to Pick up
CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling lives and breathes the concept of arcade wrestling. The control scheme focuses on directions and face buttons for gamepads and minimizes the amount of buttons when playing on a keyboard.
Sticking to few controls despite the available configs greatly helps the arcade feel. You spend less time trying to remember combos and more time focusing on the match at hand and experimenting in and outside of the ring. The game also prompts you with a narrated tutorial once you first load it up to make sure you grasp the key fundamentals.
Beyond that, the game is much what one would expect; however, the fluid animations did surprise me. The selling isn’t too over the top which many of those who prefer the simulation type games will find welcoming.
Match pacing is consistent with the length of matches only being affected by skill and difficulty. One thing I really like about CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling is that it cleverly ties in a scoring system much like WWE games. Although in CHIKARA, wrestling spots are called out and displayed on the screen to help players boost scores, add move variation to the match, and convey different actions that can be performed, some of which I had no idea I could do.
In popular arcade fashion, players can pick up buffs to help with staying alive and kicking out in clutch moments. You can even expend them in times of need to instant break a pinfall. It’s easily presented as an arcade game through and through making it very approachable.
Presentation – It Really Should be in an Arcade
Visually, the game is nothing to write home about, but the graphics do have their charm. As an arcade game, stylization is to be expected and the game can run at a 1920×1080 resolution. Lighting and detail are spent on the wrestlers and immediate ring environment.
Unfortunately, there aren’t entrances for the wrestlers, but it doesn’t stop the game from presenting a worthwhile wrestling atmosphere. The crowds are lively with options to lower or raise the volume. Commentary is absent, but there is an announcer who calls out boosts and buffs. Also, the background music is quite catchy. You can turn it off in the options if it’s not your thing. The UI is simplistic, as it should be, and easy to navigate, but in the end, it’s CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling’s blend of 2D visual detail on 3D models that shows off its uniqueness.
Game Modes – Bare Bones with More to Come
I was surprised to see few game modes in CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling. Currently, you can play offline in an Exhibition mode that offers a small variety of matches.
- 1 v 1
- 2 v 2 Tornado
- Trios Tag Tornado
- Battle Royal
- 3-Way Dance
- 4-Way Dance
- 4-Way Elimination
There’s also an online mode; however, you can only play one on one with more matches to come later.
CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling does offer a creation suite with the wrestler editor being a separate program altogether. This is one area that needs work and shines at the same time. Due to relying on internet connections, you have to sign up with an email to upload your wrestler for even offline play. The basic options do not offer much, but for the creatively inclined digital artists, there’s a lot to chew on.
The editor lets you export UV maps of your wrestler and edit the texture. Using this tool, you can add tattoos, logo to boots, anything you can think of. On top of that, certain items allow you to upload normal maps offering full control of over mock 3D detail. Of course, you’ll need to know what normal maps, UV maps, and gloss maps are and how to properly save them.
In its entirety, the game lets you create wrestlers, arenas, and federations which subsequently allows for the creation championships. Not a whole lot of crazy options, but the editor is well thought out and gives users a chance to really create a vastly diverse roster of characters. The moves list, while not as deep as other titles, still has some pretty cool moves included. the naming conventions are different from other wrestling titles, but you can preview each move before choosing. There are some wacky moves, like force lightning, but surprisingly it does not detract from the game as one might think.
Longevity – Decent TV Time
It’s hard to gauge whether or not the game has a long-lasting lifespan. If you’re into arcade fun then you may very keep this installed for months or years to come. If you’re coming from WWE 2K or Fire Pro Wrestling, you may only stay for a few matches and some decent creations. The potential is there, but CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling is going to boil down to play preference.
It’s an arcade game made to be accessible to anyone, wrestling fan or not. This is evident in its design and stylization. The lack of game modes may be a detriment for many and really hurts the longevity of such a game, but the controls are solid and the game runs beautifully. There’s not much more one can ask for in an arcade experience.
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CHIKARA: Action Arcade Wrestling