You know what wrestling is? It’s a story told between moves. It’s a Hurricanrana off the top rope, a clothesline from outta nowhere and a scoop slam that can end nations. It’s pulse-pounding back and forth action between the ropes, as giants, masked luchadores and colourful personalities pound away on each other. After all, if sport is entertaining then professional wrestling is the apex of that school of thought.
Wrestling at its best isn’t just silly, it’s aware of the bonkers nature of this carnival act. There may be plenty of promotions out there featuring athletes in gaudy ring-gear, from AEW to NJPW and beyond, but seeing dedicated games for each promotion? Now that’s rare. Enter Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling. Based on the Philadelphia promotion that has been busting heads since 2002, Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling focuses on two things: Simplifying the control scheme and keeping the action flowing.
It’s easy enough to get to grips with Chikara: AAW. You’ve got a mere two buttons to learn the ropes with in addition to the directional pad. Strikes and grapples flow from each input, with combinations of the two allowing for all manner of other moves in and outside of the ring. Locked up in a grapple? Pound away at the button until you escape. Want to deliver a few haymakers? Hammer away at that button to turn your opponent’s face into a raw hamburger patty.
The end result is a game that just about anyone can hop into, augmented by a style of action that gives you control over superhuman high-flying murder acrobats whoa aren’t bothered by such trivial things such as the laws of physics or fatigue. Every attack has its pros and cons, with heavy haymakers being susceptible to blocks and follow-up parries and suplexes easily falling victim to reversals if used ad nauseum.
It’s a simple, if sometimes raw, control scheme that is amazingly deep in execution. While you can get by a quick mash of the buttons, it’s well worth sticking around for Chikara’s tutorials to get every single possible combination of strikes and combos memorised so that you can create a grappler who’s a master of the tight-rope and a dab hand at escaping a corner.
Even better, matches will frequently throw power-ups at you, boosts to stats that can deliver some devastating damage or be literally knocked out of you if you get too cocky. You bundle all of these elements together, and Chikara quickly finds its groove: High-flying action with a layer of tactical fisticuffs that has the potential to provide the kind of arcade action that hasn’t been seen since the Genesis days of the WWF.
There’s a moderate smattering of modes on offer as well, ranging from traditional one on one slobberknockers to tag team tornado chaos and even a ten-men melee mosh pit, featuring all of Chikara’s colourful roster. You’re more than able to create your own superstar using the Chikara: AAW Wrestle Factory application, with the options being almost endless. Bad News Bonthuys, lives again for some high risk leaps of logic off the top rope yo.
Admittedly there are several rough spots in Chikara Action Arcade Wrestling, but considering that this much game was whipped up by a mere two man team with three hands between them, it’s nothing short of phenomenal when it comes to just how well the overall game plays. It’s action-packed without needing to shed blood, it’s colourful without needing to wring a few extra coins out of your pocket just so that you can unlock a table to set on fire.
Last Updated: November 21, 2019