5 Star Wrestling
As wrestling has developed over the years from "athletic sport" to "sweaty soap opera", it has provided a wealth of material for fantastically competitive video games with great characters and entertaining gameplay. The genre truly seemed to come into its own at the turn of the millennium as the go-to multiplayer game, with releases of entries like WWF's No Mercy and Smackdown! on the Nintendo 64 and Playstation respectively. Here was a softcore-violent, spandex-clad respite from the endless FIFA 2000 exhibitions with your mates into the wee hours.
5 Star Wrestling tries to hark back to those days, yet doesn't look or play quite so well as those aforementioned titles, now 15 years old. Billed as the Pro Evo of wrestling games (presumably due to its lack of a license to incorporate real stars of the wrestling universe into the game), it's intended to be a loving send up of the classics.
Indie developers Serious Parody do live up to their name here, as there is a good sense of lampooning that runs through every facet of the game. For example, there are nods to real life wrestling stars like Randy Orton, with 5 Star's own Andy Organ, who also comes with some very similar signature moves. But how much can the tongue-in-cheek references make up for a game that ultimately doesn't feel ready?
The control layout is simple enough to pick up the pad and jump straight in without much reading up, though it quickly becomes apparent just how buggy and unresponsive the game is. Impact between the two wrestlers can be a mile off, and the movement is laboriously clunky. Aesthetically the graphics are a generational throwback, but nothing we haven't come to expect from indie games these days. Which is perhaps where the problem lies; the megabucks blockbusters of current generations usually provide us with realer-than-real visuals while the indies make up for their lack of sheen with fun and exciting gameplay, but even that is remiss here.
5 Star Wrestling does provide players with some other game modes besides a simple exhibition match, though the choices are quite limited. There's also various unlockables such as arenas, costumes etc. but there doesn't seem to be enough to keep players engrossed for long should they manage to get past the troublesome gameplay.
All in all 5 Star Wrestling provides a few chuckles that soon become stale, and frustratingly teases you with the sweet nostalgia of those glory days of wrestling video games. Unfortunately though, not even a pair of rose-tinted glasses are enough to see past this games many faults.