Over at a special coffee shop experience put on by Skybound Entertainment, we got a chance to sample the JRPG-inspired Wrestlequest a bit later in the day. If you’re a fan of the almost archaic (when compared to modern graphics standards of course) approach of the NES Final Fantasy or the SNES Final Fantasy II (in the US) you’ll feel right at home in this title. Doubly so, if you’re a fan of the golden era of Hulk Hogan-led WWF professional wrestling in the ‘80s, you’ll probably be jumping out of your seat at this one. This game features at least the likeness (and possibly some playability) from some of the greatest WWF wrestlers. In our demo we saw references to Macho Man Randy Savage, the Junk Yard Dog, The Road Warriors and Diamond Dallas Page. The game’s art also eludes to the presence of Double J Jeff Jarrett, Sergeant Slaughter and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Our guide Tim Hall, Producer for Skybound Games couldn’t tell us whether there were more real-life personalities slated to appear, but he did indicate every one that was present, was negotiated either with the personality himself, or in the case of deceased performers such as Macho Man or J.Y.D., with their families respective estates.
The game is a cute take on JRPGs featuring a character Randy Santos—who pretty quickly comes to the conclusion he should perform as the Muchacho Man—exploring a world where the aspiration to become a famous champion professional wrestler is a lifelong effort for many. He works at a gym that teach green wrestlers the basics of how to craft their gimmicks, taunt their opponent and perform basic maneuvers. There’s a sense within the story that the various aspiring wrestlers are well aware of the how pro wrestling is not exactly “real” (“predetermined” is what a smark or “smart mark” would call it), but that the large sunglasses glad Santos doesn’t seem to really understand is the case. In our brief vista into this world, we see the basics of the in-games fight scenarios (which BTW, always amount to an in-ring match even if you’re just walking about in everyday life). There are taunts to psych your opponent out, methods to bring the crowd on your side and the standard power moves to devastate the opponent before trying to bring them down for the three-count pin. We were told that as the game progresses your “party” as it were would expand to feature numerous characters and some embody some of the archetypes common to role playing games (such as healing). There is even mechanisms for valets that can be their own mechanism of bonus effects or distractions much like the real-world pro wrestling would have.
Our one “quest” involved helping a local wrestler retrieve face paint as they fleshed out their character for a dark match at a local live event. This particular character explained himself to be stuck incapable of deciding on whether he should go for surfer face paint, or moody goth face paint (a not too subtle jab at legendary WCW wrestler Sting). All the while, in-game there is a giant statue of the late Macho Man Randy Savage that looms over Santos and the wrestling obsessed world he occupies. We’re told Wrestlequest will boast over thirty hours of gameplay and will see an early 2023 release.