When I reviewed the PSP release of WWE All Stars back in April, I commented how good it looked and played for a portable port. Imagine my surprise when I put in the 3DS version and found that it looks even better, is without the glitches I identified in the PSP version, includes all of the character DLC from the console versions and even has new modes. This is no throwaway port. It is a fully realized version of the high flying, arcade-style wrestling game from earlier this year.
For those that haven’t followed wrestling for some time or played one of the more simulation-oriented Smackdown vs. Raw (renamed this year to WWE ’12), WWE All Stars features the kind of ring action you remember from the Nintendo 64 era. The move sets are more streamlined, and the action is exaggerated to the point of absurdity. While the simulation games feature realistic looking moves, WWE All Stars kicks it up a notch with Superstars thrown high into the air and crashing with a thud, all while painted in brightly colored streaks of light as the background is washed out to accentuate the insanity.
The game features two groups of wrestlers: Legends of years gone by and Superstars currently making their names in the ring. All of the most popular names are here: Hulk Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Andre the Giant, The Rock, Randy Orton, Triple H and more. If you have a favorite wrestler, chances are he is here. Yes. I said “he.” There are no Divas in this game and, no, the included creation tool does not even give you the option of making a female. This is strictly big men throwing each other around.
Each Superstar falls into one of four classes: Brawler, Acrobat, Big Man and Grappler. You have a general idea of what you are getting into with each wrestler based on his class, but the signature and finishing moves are all here, differentiating each. Entrances are abbreviated, but are present, as is the in-match commentary provided by JR and Jerry “The King” Lawler. It’s great to have the commentary since that is something often left out of portable WWE games.
The game features a huge number of modes, including five returning match types and the new Score Scramble and Gauntlet types. Gauntlet pits you against every other Legend and Superstar in consecutive matches. If that doesn’t sound like a big enough challenge, your health does not automatically regenerate. You have to earn it back by accomplishing goals laid out for you during the match, like winning by KO instead of pinfall. My only gripe with Gauntlet mode is the loading that takes place after every three opponents. It’s a challenging mode, and a good way to unlock new people for your roster.
Score Scramble comes in two varieties. The first challenges you to reach a target score first. The other is a timed match, with the winner having the most points at the end. You’ll earn points by executing combos and grapple moves, with signature and finishing moves earning big bonuses.
In addition to Exhibition matches, the game features three campaigns leading up to a big match against The Undertaker, Randy Orton or DX. There are also 15 Fantasy Warfare matches that pit two similar wrestlers, one a Legend and one Superstar, against each other. These are preceded by fantastic videos that look great and provide some cool information about the combatants. Ever wonder what would happen if The Rock and Hulk Hogan squared off? You can pick a side and play it out in Fantasy Warfare.
The game looks great, with cartoony wrestlers that look more like their action figures than they do in real life. The game loads quickly, even while creating a wrestler. The options are fairly basic when compared with WWE ’12, and you probably won’t have too much success filling in holes in the roster, but it’s great to have it.
The sound is wonderful, and it seems that my concerns from the PSP version were addressed. The persistent sound glitch I encountered when executing a signature or finishing move is nowhere to be seen. The effects are great and, as I mentioned, the commentary rounds out the package.
My biggest gripe with the game was the use of a single touchscreen button for a wide variety of functions including climbing the turnbuckle, entering/exiting the ring, pinning an opponent and more. Thankfully, executing signature and finishing moves is handled by pressing two buttons simultaneously, far easier than hunting for the right spot of the touchscreen and taking your eyes off the screen (especially when the 3D is on). Also, just like with the other versions, countering and reversing seems far too difficult, especially when the AI seems to pull off those moves frequently. Finally, the 3DS became a bit uncomfortable to hold, largely because the game uses every button, often in combination or rapid succession. The speed of the matches combined with having to move your hands around often, lead me to shorter play times than I would have liked.
If you are a wrestling fan with a 3DS, this is a great game for your library. Matches play quickly by yourself, or with a friend, via the local play option (each player must have their own copy, though), and having a huge roster of personalities from throughout the history of World Wrestling Entertainment means lots of replayability. WWE All Stars won’t do anything to change your mind about wrestling. It’s a love letter to fans of the sport, and for that, every Hulkamaniac should be grateful.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher.