WrestleQuest was one of the last-minute titles I've had the opportunity to play hands-on today at PAX East and I'm so glad I had the time to stop by. There's a special place in my heart for games that feature the likeliness of real characters and place them in unique scenarios. One of the earlier examples of this was the classic fangame Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, placing the titular basketball player in a JRPG environment. A few years later, Kanye Quest was released in the same spirit. WrestleQuest is another passion project, combining the unlikely blend of wrestling and JRPGs with the intent of being the cream of the crop---Sorry.
As mentioned, Macho Man Randy Savage is featured in the game as the central character the main protagonist looks up to. The protagonist himself bases his entire gimmick and personality on Randy Savage and it seems the town he's from feels the same. WrestleQuest's biggest twist is that the wrestlers and fighters are all toys rather than real people. The whole "toys based on existing properties" gimmick. In 2010, a fan game known as Duel Toys was a fighting game that turned many existing IPs into toys. It was a fun concept at the time and I'm glad it's making a comeback here.
Players who are fans of Super Mario RPG will immediately catch on to WrestleQuest's gameplay. The player can use strikes, which will knock their opponent into the ropes. A follow-up attack can be input with a quick prompt for bonus damage. A character's set of "gimmicks" are their special skills. The most important gimmick here is the Pin, as it's not enough to beat your opponent to a pulp. To win most fights, like a wrestling match, is via Pin Fall. When an enemy is knocked out, the player can pin them via a minigame. Should the player fail, the enemy will recover with health yet each consecutive pin becomes easier.
There are multiple protagonists and different wrestlers who can join your party, which is called a "stable" in this game. Tag team matches are more traditional RPG fights where each character gets a turn to fight. There are also specific qualifications in certain matches that must be fulfilled, further referencing wrestling. In wrestling, it's not enough to win as sometimes you're expected to "job" to other talents. There are fights that you are scripted to lose, but you still need to make the matches close.
Overall by the time I finished the demo, I was surprised how in-depth it was. The developer, as a fellow wrestling fan, snuck many references to the wrestling culture. Classic wrestlers, modern wrestlers, terminology, and various organizations are all referenced and it's humorous if you understand it. Even if you're not the biggest wrestling fan, it's a surprisingly solid JRPG that combined the developer's passions at once. The release of WrestleQuest is around the corner and it's definitely a title I will love to get in the squared circle with. Ooo yeah!
Here's a title that I'll admit completely piqued my interest from its design alone. It is no secret that I am as much of a fan of Rhythm Games as I am of Racing and Fighting. When I saw the preview for this game, I was instantly hooked on the idea of playing it. The story involves Sprout, a groovy Onion who is on a quest to save the world. How? By dropping sick beats of course. On the Steam page, it states the game is "self-aware" and I expect some very "fourth-wall-breaking" dialogue in the full release.
The demo build had four songs to play that will cycle at random once gameplay begins. There are three "buttons," where any of the face buttons are pink and the d-pad buttons are yellow. The shoulder buttons are the blue buttons, that will appear occasionally usually during a bass drop or similar.
I'd chalk it up as the expo hall being super loud, but the timing for Rhythm Sprout is less forgiving than I thought. It seems as if the timing was a bit late and I was getting B rankings when I was sure I pressed the notes to the beat. I hope in the full build there's a way to change the offset when it comes to timing as all monitors and computers are NOT created equal (Laptop players suffer the most)
Depending on how well you do, the area's "boss" shows up occasionally and the player has to fight them. The notes are altered and the song changes up, usually with a more difficult chart variation. This section reminded me of Muse Dash, where occasionally a "boss monster" would appear in the track's most intense bits. There are many rhythm games that this reminded me of aside from Muse Dash, with Gitaroo Man's duel system being a thing as well.
The music is done in-house by the devs themselves and it's a blend of different genres. There's fast tempo hardstyle, slow "lofi" garage music, and everything in between. I was very impressed with what I heard and all of them were catchy. My favorite was the ice level as I'm a fan of the "2-Step 90s Dance" music. It reminded me of "Satin Panties" from Friday Night Funkin', which I'm sure was an inspiration. As the devs themselves weren't present, it was all speculation on my end. I'd love to talk with the Rhythm Sprout devs themselves and maybe geek out about rhythm games for hours.
Currently there's a demo out on Steam that features three songs that players can play to their hearts content. To get a better feel for the game, I played a little bit of it in the media room on my laptop. I was done for the day and I wanted my rhythm game fix, so, rather play it in the quietness of the press room yeah?