Wrestling games. How many are there these days? WWE has an unfortunate monopoly on the genre and, as of late, I feel it has affected the quality of the franchise even after the transition to 2K (though still developed by Yukes). That’s why 5 Star Wrestling Regenesis is important, but that doesn’t make it great. Though it’s not currently in the championship race, it has all of the potential to be a contender in the future, so if you’d like to learn more, read on for our 5 Star Wrestling Regenesis Review.
Given that your only comparable product is a major company’s triple-A title, you’d be forgiven for coming down a bit harsh on 5 Star Wrestling’s dated look. I ask you to bare in mind that this is a budget title on the Playstation Store. That said, the game isn’t that bad to look at. There are some glitches that occur and a few awkward animations – my characters once fell through the ring repeatedly before emerging in a suplex – but all in all, the arenas and characters are passable. What may be more important is to state that the game’s wrestlers are parodies of real-life superstars, and their names and entrance music gave me a great chuckle. Hearing the opening for “Raging” Andy Organ had me genuinely amused and these little bits and pieces come together to keep you interested in what may have otherwise pushed you away. It has a lot of charm in that respect, but it’s not all smiles. The entrances themselves are incredibly basic, and though they’re faithful to the parody aspect, they don’t have any real impact. I’d like to have seen the entrances expanded upon to add an opportunity for more referential comedy.
There are a fair few arenas and alternate costumes to unlock, and the finishing move animations are remarkably familiar, as is the intent, but there’s not exactly a lot to see, and if Serious Parody continue with this franchise, I hope to see some of these personal preferences addressed. It’s already as good looking as I feel it needs to be, so I’d love to see it focus on being more consistent in performance and develop what makes it charming even further. For the time being, it’s on the right track.
The game has three main modes that all result in, obviously, some wrestling. You can set up a match in the traditional Exhibition with custom set-ups, you can dive right in with a randomly generated match using Quickplay, but the meat of the product is in the Challenges. There are 16 Challenge sections, each with a different theme. Go in further and you’ll see numerous scenarios to jump in to and take on. They mostly have three objectives to achieve, and these can range from “Taunt within 30 seconds of the start of the match”, “Win by submission” or “Earn a 5 star rating”. These objectives usually fall within the criteria for the character you’re controlling and the section you’re in. You may have to perform that character’s unique strike combination and win undefeated in a 2 out of 3 Falls match type. There are a great many challenges to try, so I’d never say the game was light on content, just light on variety.
It’d be great to see a Career Mode of sorts, or some sort of story driven content, but certain allowances are given to a small project like this, we’ve just been conditioned to expect more from a Wrestling game in terms of things to do. That doesn’t detract from how much there is to do in challenge mode, however, and that mode alone can keep you involved for the days ahead, even if it won’t last forever.
If this being a wrestling game hasn’t done an adequate job of being self-explanatory, I can spare a sentence or two: You’ll choose or be put in the shoes of one of the eight playable characters and strike, grapple and pin your way to victory. You can focus on damaging body parts to render them ineffective, though I found only the damaging of the legs to result in a significant gameplay. That said, I do appreciate the realism of working an opponents legs so that when they attempt a lifting maneuver, it fails and they fall to the mat.
The key to victory lies in filling the momentum meter and performing your finishing moves. This meter can be filled by successfully attacking or taunting the opponent. One impressive new mechanic I’ve never seen before is the altering of the finishing move in to a “Strong” finishing move by holding L2 when initiating it. This ability is available to all characters for all finishing moves and deals a much greater amount of damage as well as featuring an extended/variant animation of the move itself. I do feel there should be a special circumstance or a different meter to fill to initiate a strong version of your move, as it can be overwhelming given how simple it is to pull off, but its a smart inclusion nonetheless and a mechanic I’d like to see given more love.
Each wrestler has their own move set as well as special techniques based on affiliation. For example, a heel character can deal significant damage with illegal moves, but if they commit three of these they’ll be disqualified. A face, on the other hand, can use “Bulk Up” to gain an immediate refill to their momentum meter one time per match. These extra touches give a bit of variation to what would otherwise feel like a palette swap. The characters perform equally for the most part and could certainly do with some statistics that impact their movement, counter timer or damage dealing capabilities.
Speaking of the counter system, I do feel it’s overly generous in the time you have to press the R2 or L2 buttons to reverse an incoming strike or grapple. Often times I’d win my matches by constantly striking because being countered was pretty inconsequential, then reversing their grapple attempt and repeat the process. It does feature an interesting one-chance attempt though, so button mashing is detrimental here. It behooves you to wait for your opportunity to reverse, that opportunity is just too forgiving.
Criticisms aside, it features all of the high-flying, over the top rope, irish-whipping and running strike attacks we’ve become accustomed to in our wrestling experience and does them all pretty well.
For the most part, this game plays fine, but there are some odd collision detection issues and positioning problems resulting from certain moves, like the wake-up taunts. You’ll rarely find yourself in the finisher position after the wake-up taunt is used, meaning you’ll have to briefly navigate your character back in to the the required state. This would be a bigger problem were it not so easy to put yourself back where you need to be, but it’s still a nuisance and breaks the immersion.
I see a star in the making here. No pun intended. It’s rough around the edges, but there seems to be a real passion for wrestling at its core. The question ultimately becomes whether or not Serious Parody can turn this in to a legitimate competitor. Retaining the humour will be vital if they hope to improve upon this, but if they manage to get a Career Mode in there and fill it with your own created character going up against hilarious parodies of our favourite guys and girls of the industry, this could be huge in a time where the big brother of wrestling isn’t delivering a product with soul. For now, it’s a fun experience that’s a little too simple for my liking and could do with some additional modes. I’ll still go back for those Challenges though. Uncle Curtis Angel will Uncle Slam them all.
Game: 5 Star Wrestling ReGenesis
Review Format: Playstation 4