I hate wresting. I hate wrestling games. I LOVED TNA! Welcome to one of the best RPGs on the iPhone.
I’ll be honest, I never even heard of Spike TV’s “TNA Wrestling” until I played this game. So basically, when I picked up TNA Wrestling, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I did, however, have my own expectations about wrestling games. I have generally found these games to be both boring, and difficult to control. This probably comes from the fact that I’m simply not a fan of “soap opera” wrestling, with all the trash talking, fake moves, etc.
TNA Wrestling is not just a wrestling game for the wrestling fan, it’s a wrestling game for anyone loves a good solid RPG. That’s right, TNA is a role-playing game that puts you in
the shoes of a wrestling rookie as he strives to make it in the world of pro wrestling. You start out with the ability to make your wrestling name, and customize your character with basic items. Eventually, once you get signed, you have opportunity to change your name, as well as your digs.
The writing and plotline in TNA is filled with hilarious one-liners, cheesy characters, and dramatic plot twists. All of these falls on the good side of the fence, and works perfectly for this kind of game. The most intruiging part of TNA is the classic “good or evil” decisions you are constantly making, whether it be in the wring, or in the locker room. I would say that at least half the game is dialogue and interactive cutscenes. In each situation, you have the ability to choose whether you want to be nice, or a jerk. These decisions have direct impact on what people think of you, and what options you are given in the future.
As you level up your character, you can gain points for being both good, bad, and for winning matches. These points unlock new moves, as well as boost your stats. It’s possible
to max out either good or bad in one game, but I’m pretty sure you can’t do both. This means that you will get quite a different experience if you decide to replay the game through again, doing the opposite of what you did originally. I have full plans to play through TNA as a total A-hole, since my run-through for this review was mostly good.
The wrestling gameplay is done through action points, and wrestling combos. You have an ever expanding palette of combos to pull off, and each one requires a certain set of moves to be performed. As you level up, you get an increasing number of action points, which allows you to pull off either more moves, or more extravagent moves. Each move is done by simply tapping one of the supplied options at the bottom of the screen. Depending on what is going, different moves will become available. For instance, if you throw your opponent out of the wring, the option to slam his face with a folding chair becomes available.
As you fight, your crowd power meter slowly fills. This gives you access to perform moves to do things like increase your own action ponts, or decrease your opponents crowd power. This also replenishes your counter moves, which are absolutely key to winning matches. Reversal moves allow you to avoid, counter, or reverse your opponents attack. As the game states, it’s best to save these moves for larger attacks so you don’t lose the health. As your crowd power increases, these defense moves will replenish.
To make fighting more interesting, the throw and finishing moves, along with counters, require a quick mini game of tapping and swiping. Don’t worry, this works very well for the game, and adds some interactively that otherwise wouldn’t be there by just tapping the moves and watching them play out. Since the interactive event for specific moves is the same, it gets easier if you have a favored move you like to use a lot. If you can tap or swipe fast enough, you will simply pull off a lesser move.
The bread and butter of TNA Wrestling is it’s fantastic single-player story. You undoubtedly get attached to your character and the relationships and drama that ensues. The first time I got betrayed, I was heartbroken, and determined to not let that happen again. However, there is a full-featured tournament mode for those that just want straight up action. You can train, play alone, or tag team with another wrestler to take on opponents. There are even other wrestling modes like Ironman that mix things up.
TNA is done in classic sprite style. which for the most part works alright. The problem comes when you’re actually in the ring, where many of the moves just flat out look weird. It doesn’t help that the animation is extremely choppy, especially when performing finishing moves. I honestly couldn’t tell what exactly I was during these, where the screen flashes and you see about 3 frames before the opponent is knocked out. Because this game is so good, it’s not a huge deal, but certainly a slight disappointment.
The music also left something to be desired. The menu screen music is some wannabe Limp Bizkit band, and the song is pretty lame. I’ll quote one of the lines: “Everybody’s doin’ what everybody’s doin’, everybody’s doin’ the same thing. I’ll be doin’ what I’ll be doin’. I’ll be doin’ my thing!” Wow. Inspiring! The crowd sounds during the game are cool, but not consistant. The biggest let down is the completely lack of fighting sounds! No face pounding, bone crunching audio here. As with the visuals, you’ll be so sucked into the experience of the game, you may not notice, but I’m shocked this was left out.
Presentation & Graphics
The sprite graphics are fine for this type of game, and the backgrounds look good. Unfortunately, the animation is very choppy, and often pretty awkward when trying to show various wrestling moves. It looks fine during dialogue segments though. The UI for fighting is perfect, and the game feels very polished overall.
Kind of a missed opportunity in some respects. Absolutely no fighting sounds at all. Good, but inconsistant crowd sounds. Annoying menu song. Other music in the game, though mostly generic, works alright. Nice tough with rock music coming in when a wrestler is close to being defeated.
Fun as hell. So fun, that you probably won’t care about lack of full sound or choppy animations. A fantastic plot that changes based on your decisions, hilarious characters and jokes that will make you laugh out loud, a huge collection of great wrestling moves that you unlock as you level up, finishing moves you learn from opponents you beat… the list goes on and on.
It took me around 7-10 hours to complete the story, and I plan on going back to play as a new evil character. That’s potentially 14-20 hours of gameplay… and that’s just the single player! I would have liked to see some wifi turn-based multiplayer using your single player character, but the tournament mode will provide plenty of replay value for those who want to hone their skills.
Game Rating – EDITOR’S CHOICE
I would like to repeat that I am not remotely a fan of wrestling, yet I am now a HUGE fan of this game! It is easily worth the $4.99 price tag, and will keep you thoroughly entertained from start to finish. I really hope that TNA Wrestling makes it to the front of the App Store somehow, because it’s a game that no iPhone gamer should be without, and there was obviously a ton of love and work put into it. If you’re looking for a true story-driven RPG experience for your iPhone, look no further!
P.S. I’m going to include more screenshots below, because there’s simply too much to this game to show it all in the usual 3 screenshots.