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Action Arcade Wrestling Review

Action Arcade Wrestling

Developer: VICO Game Studio
Publisher: Reverb
Platforms:Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, Playstation 4, PC, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $14.99 – Available Here


Wrestling games are one of the oddities of the industry. At one time, we saw as many as four to five releases over the course of a year to satisfy fans. During the last decade, we’ve been lucky to get the one big title that ate up the rest of the fish in the pond. Luckily, there have been a good number of smaller names, all sticking their feet in the door – attempting to bring back the feeling from our childhoods. Action Arcade Wrestling is the latest of this batch. This wrestling title puts gameplay and creation at the forefront of the experience, hoping to snag some spotlight from the other competitors in the market. How does it stand up? Let’s find out. 


This is the part where I would usually detail a season mode or some other narrative driven portion, but sadly – Action Arcade Wrestling does not yet have that to offer yet. I don’t personally find that to be a detractor as it really didn’t affect my own time with the game, nor did I miss having a story mode like you would see in a traditional title from the genre. Wrestling games are all about the player using their own imagination to create moments. While a little tournament mode or even a title chase would have been nice to see, VICO obviously omitted that feature to polish up gameplay – and in this case, it was for the better. Can you still recreate Andre vs. Hogan or Rock vs. Cena? Sure, but it will be up to you to create a narrative within this title, and again – that is perfectly fine for what’s offered here. 


This is where it matters. During the last year, I got to experience MDickie’s Wrestling Empire and RetroMania, both of which had some interesting takes on a game engine for the squared circle. Wrestling Empire was focused on creating solid mechanics built around its own season mode, resembling what we saw in WWF No Mercy and the other AKI titles at the start of the millennium. RetroMania by contrast was scaled back, offering up a more arcadey feel, with over-the-top animations and characters to make it seem as if you are poking quarters in a machine. Action Arcade Wrestling is different, as it’s not trying to fulfill nostalgia through gameplay, but instead offers up a completely new and exciting feel for the little sport we all love. 

Wrestling matches feel great here, with the most fluid engine I believe we have seen in the market from an independent developer. Players all have a unique set of moves and grappling and strikes all are easy to perform and master after just a few matches. Most tie-ups result in the execution of a light grapple, where light grapples can evolve into stronger attacks as the opponent’s health bar is drained. It is a progressive style of gameplay, which is something that most will be familiar with where you build up power before finally finishing up a foe. What makes Action Arcade Wrestling unique are spots and power-ups, both allowing for either side to gain an advantage at any time. 

Power-ups are about what they sound like, where players can obtain visual boosts by performing well executed spots in a match. Sure, the objective of any fight is still to pin or submit an opponent, but there is a lot more than that going on here to make that feel closer to the actual product. This engine isn’t about going in there and doing moves until an HP gauge is depleted. Instead, it is as if you are an actual entertainer, calling spots to your opponent that you must choreograph while still obtaining the win. Every match feels scripted in the best way because of this, as if the curtain has been pulled back for the player, making you feel like the purveyor of your own bout. Executing this correctly rewards a power-up, which can drain HP, boost speed, and so on to move the needle closer to a decided victory. It may sound a little complicated, but I found it to be one of the most enjoyable and welcome features to come in a wrestling game in years. 

When I first booted up Action Arcade Wrestling, I was a bit taken back. It felt bare bones as it initially gives a first impression of a very bland landscape, with just a small set of original talent in the roster and no special match types outside of a battle royal to add variety. Once you start to peel back the layers, this game expands due to the creation suite – contained within an app you can download for the PC (via Steam) dubbed “Wrestle Lab”. Think Fire Pro but add in the ability to transfer all your finds and creations to any version of the game, including this Switch Port I am reviewing. Want to do Rock vs. Hogan at Wrestlemania 18? Now you can! Want to have the Power Rangers fight at the command center? You can do that too. This app is very user friendly and easy to apply your creations to the game, but I do think that most who do not have the ability to download it will feel a bit hindered as they deal with the standard offerings of the main package.  

There are a few glitches and shortcomings that can be a bit of a headache, as characters can get stuck at times and AI still seems to need a little work. With that said, Wrestle Lab had me hooked on the experience, where I was constantly adding downloadable finds and trying out new matchups, as there are endless possibilities. This may be the cleverest way we have seen to add mods to a console title to date and is what will ultimately make Action Arcade Wrestling have legs to run in the future. 


All character models are clean and have a cel-shaded look that makes them look vibrant and smooth. Arenas also look great, only being enhanced with whatever you decide to add in with your own creations. The true accomplishment for this very small team, however, is how tight and fluid the animations are. Moves flow very consistently, and all resemble what you would see on television. Even techniques with a lot of set-ups still manage to keep this flow going, adding depth and realism to the overall experience. High praise aside, there are still some issues with models clipping each other that can bring the player back to reality. Hopefully, these will all be patched later as outside of those nagging takebacks, there is still a lot to like here for the price tag. 


The music is fine, but a little basic. I don’t think I expected anything too stellar due to the constraints of the team involved, but it would be nice to see more added such as entrances to give our characters and the game (as a whole) more personality. There is even commentary. I honestly didn’t expect this and truly, it is not very consistent or present, but it does feel welcome as it adds a little more flare to the overall package. 


Action Arcade Wrestling by itself (meaning for what you download at the time of purchase) is a fine wrestling sim with a lot of heart applied. There are mechanics here that make it feel unique within its own market, and most wrestling fans will have no problem finding a lot to love within the base package provided. Once you add in the creation tools, the value increases dramatically, being one of the first wrestling games since Fire Pro to utilize a community to enhance the longevity of the original product. That is quite a feat for such a small team to make, as Action Arcade Wrestling can now gracefully add its name to a running list of one of the easiest wrestling titles to recommend on the platform. 

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Action Arcade Wrestling may look like small game, but easily is one of the most fluid and innovative wrestling titles to release across platforms in years.
<i>Action Arcade Wrestling</i> may look like small game, but easily is one of the most fluid and innovative wrestling titles to release across platforms in years.Action Arcade Wrestling Review