TOH Dev Open Invitational #1: Wrassling

This is the first entry in my regular series, the Tired Old Hack Developer Open Invitational, in which I challenge developers to send me their games for a guaranteed review. I don’t promise positive coverage, I only promise a review: so if I don’t like it, it could backfire. If you’re a developer (be it triple-A or a one-man indie) and you’re confident your game is good enough to pass the test, check out how to submit your game. I’m not a snob so all genres and budgets are welcomed.

Wrassling review panelGiven that the Tired Old Hack Developer Open Invitational is blatantly inspired by the WWE and John Cena’s US Title Open Invitational, it’s perhaps fitting that the first developer to brave my inbox came bearing a wrestling game.

Wrassling is the work of indie devs Colin Lane and Folmer Kelly, and is a physics-based wrestling game with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek.

It’s set in the land of Slamdovia, where champion ‘wrasslers’ are considered the greatest athletes in the country.

You play as one such wrassler, and it’s your job to defeat all-comers by chucking them out of the ring, battle royale style.

The controls are about as basic as it gets: an on-screen controller lets you move left, right and jump, and two other buttons make your rotate your arms clockwise or anti-clockwise. That’s about it.

The result is a brilliantly daft form of ‘wrestling’ in which you approach other chaps and try to spin your arms around to grab them get them over your head in order to force them over the ropes and out of the ring.

Because its physics are looser and slipperier than a [removed for decency] you’re never truly in control: this initially feels very much like a game in the same vein as Surgeon Simulator, Octodad and the like.

In time though you do pick up some techniques that help your chances, if not exactly turning you into an unstoppable suplex machine. You learn that jumping when lifting someone gives you extra leverage in a grapple, you learn that holding the jump button also makes your arms spin quicker and therefore give you more power, and you learn that your wrestler looks cool as fuck in a cowboy hat.

Here’s some footage I took in silky smooth 60 fps-o-vision to show you this control system in action, while also letting the ladies and gents get another taste of my sultry, bassy voice. Or something.

It’s clear Lane and Kelly like daft hats, and these are the incentive to keep playing. A series of challenges is present throughout and each time you complete one you unlock a new hat: I’m talking beanies, top hats, goldfish bowls and the like.

Some of these challenges can be luck-based: eliminating five opponents while keeping your hat on may seem straightforward enough but as you can see in the video above that’s easier said than done. Still, I suppose if they could all be done in an hour that would eliminate the need to keep playing for some.

Wrassling pic 5Visually, it’s a treat. Its deliberately shit and lo-res pixel graphics (actually a brilliantly accurate tribute to early Commodore 64 games, right down to a fake C64 loading screen) give the game a sense of personality that makes me smile.

Special mention must also go to the brilliant chiptune soundtrack, courtesy of Australian composer IsYourGuy. Its brilliant SID chip style Commodore 64 sound perfectly complements the graphics.

Give Wrassling a go. It’s free and will make you chuckle like an idiot. I’d like to see more added to it as time goes on: right now it’s basically a high score challenge and nothing more, and the hilarious dialogue in the brief tutorial shows there’s a clear writing ability that the developer should be making more of, perhaps in some sort of level-based story mode.

For now though, for what it offers, thumbs up.

4 Stars

Wrassling is available as a free download on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play store.

Are you a developer? Reckon your game’s good enough to conquer the Developer Open Invitational’s five-star rating system? Looking for some coverage, and willing to risk it being bad coverage? Come get some.

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