System: Nintendo Switch | Publisher: MDickie | Developer: MDickie
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch | Released: January 2021
Wrestling Empire is an N64 styled, old school wrestling game, the game has been around as Wrestling Revolution 3D on PC for many years, created solely by MDickie. Dickie’s creation now makes its way over to Nintendo Switch as Wrestling Empire, that brings arcade wrestling back to the forefront, something many hardcore wrestling fans have missed getting from the current market.
MDickie’s wrestling game is an arcade 64-bit inspired game that is simple yet highly contagious with its easy to learn controls yet satisfying when you pull off the moves. The game itself is simplistic to look at, the game looks like something we played back in the late 90s, an era that a lot of hardcore players will remember, but Dickie has poured so much love into this style of game that it works better than a lot of modern wrestling games. This game has 3 modes, training, exhibition, and career, it might not seem a lot at first glance but the work this one man has put in, is nothing short of exceptional.
Wrestling Empire does not go near the simulation style wrestling we get in todays market, it sticks with the silly, over the top arcade style, I grew up playing, even the early Smackdown vs Raw games were great for this, obviously more polished than this game or the games it clearly took inspiration from. The controls are simple, yet amazingly easy to learn, your four main buttons on the joy con are for grapple, attack (punch/kicking), run and pick up. The grapple button works like a lot of games from the older generation like WWE Smackdown here comes the pain (a personal favourite) were once you press the grapple button you can then pull off moves using the directional button. There is no combo button hold to pull off moves just the simple style that makes this highly approachable, even for first time players to the series. A criticism I have is that even though you can pause the match at any point and see the control layout, the game does not tell you every control, which means at the beginning there is a lot of figuring out for yourself, for me this was an endearing trait as it made me constantly try out new things to see what the game had in store for me. Although there is a training tab on the main screen which is quite in depth even though it still does not fully explain all the mechanics, it is recommended to avoid going into the game blind, plus there is a sparring match within the training to try and put everything you learn into practice. The game is designed to experiment and learn the controls as you go once you have the basics nailed down.
The exhibition tab lets you set up the match the way you want to play, there are 26 match types to choose from and each match type can be altered, like a triple threat match you can tweak to have a triple threat tag team match that if you throw an opponent out the ring they get eliminated as well as have a match with no ring. Its designed to let you have the matches you want.
The career option is where the bulk of my time has been spent, this has been so lovingly crafted that you can see the passion for the wrestling business Matt Dickie has. I have already completed 2 full calendar years and it seems to be endless, like the same way football manager just keeps going year to year. This is not a complaint as I have no where near had my fill of this game or the career mode, there is over 300 characters in this game over 12 rosters and you must play the story, get signed to different promotions to unlock all the characters in the game. Once these new characters appear in your career one check of the roster shows they are now unlocked. The career mode has you starting at the training school, but soon enough different promotions will enter contract negotiations with you which you control what you accept and what you do not. After every event there is a Wrestling Review of how everyone is doing on the show from that night followed up by a financial report which shows your earnings to date and what you got from that event, if anything.
Now this game is not licensed by any promotion like WWE or ECW, so all the characters are made up but one look through their 64-bit exterior you can recognize who some of them are meant to be, the made-up names are hilarious as well such as Hal Coogan who is in fact Hulk Hogan, and thanks to the editor tab you can rename the wrestlers to whoever you want, which is fantastic as you can either build your own unique wrestling characters or re-create the real wrestlers from today or yesteryears. You can not rename the promotions which was disappointing but maybe something that could be added to the editor tab further down the road.
Creating a character is not really in the game, the only way you can create your own character is by choosing an existing wrestler in the game and changing their name, look and wrestling style. This was not a big issue for me as there are plenty of original created characters designed that are meant to be their own thing that I could override and start my own wrestler. The creation tools are fun to mess around with as not only can you change how you look, but also your move sets and even your taunts. You can not create entrances as you control the wrestler during an entrance to a match which allows you to walk to the ring your way. Its amazingly simple but an aspect I love.
Wrestling empire graphically, would not be out of place on old school consoles such as the Nintendo 64 but it fits right at home on the Nintendo Switch. The animation can feel janky at times but again that’s part of the games charm and the fact the game knows it, as you can get t-shirts worn by the wrestlers in game that say, ‘worst game ever’, something that made me smile every time I seen it.
The soundtrack in this game was brilliant, the main music every time I booted the game up – My Time by Wolves, had me pumped and ready to go. The theme music for characters is music with no lyrics, but each theme was unique that suited the characters coming out to them.
I have easily lost over 15 hours to this game so far, its not designed to have a finish per say its more designed to just pick up and play whenever you are in the mood for such a game. Yes, the game has its issues, it can be janky, and chaotic but the game runs incredible smooth even when the screen is filled with 20 to 30 wrestlers. This is the most fun I have had with a wrestling game in years, it is crazy and obviously not realistic like the simulation style wrestling games we get nowadays, as you can grab dynamite and throw it at your enemy. There is a high level of charm and love poured into this game that has its hooks in me, something I have not felt with a wrestling game in many years. Remember this game was made by one man, this is an amazing feat. It can be buggy at times but for hardcore fans of wrestling this is a must play, for casual players you will find something to enjoy in this product especially when it is easy to just jump in and play. I already cannot wait to jump back in and continue my career, it is a highly additive game and if you can look past the obvious flaws then you are sure to have a great time. It’s time to play the game.