By: Jeff Cater
For those unfamiliar with wrestling lingo, years ago the wrestling community started rating matches to quantify the “work rate,” and five stars was the highest possible score. That’s the genesis behind the name of Serious Parody’s 5-Star Wrestling. It seems the developer took one look at the squared circle and decided it could use a lot more power bombs and less… everything else! The end result is a roster full of caricatures of old and new wrestling favorites, and, unfortunately, that’s pretty much it.
The game is easy enough to pick up and play, moving your wrestler around with the left stick and trying to grapple an opponent with the right. You can also run by pressing square, though it’s really only good to get away from someone because the hit detection on running attacks leave much to be desired.
That aside, once you’ve grappled another wrestler you can press R1 and L1 to perform different slams and contortions, or press circle to Irish whip them into the ropes with the quickness. In case you just want to smack them around a bit you can mash the X button, but as mentioned, the hit detection can be off. The flawed hit detection also spares you from having to press R2/L2, both of which perform counter-moves.
Every wrestler looks like they’ve been dipped in vegetable oil and are almost blindingly shiny. And those are the real wrestlers! Jokes aside, this game looks pretty bad. The framerate is consistent enough, but 5-Star isn’t pushing the visual envelope.
Wrestlers will constantly clip through the ropes and mat, attacks clip through opponents, clips clip through clips; it’s insanity. At least there is no one in the arena to disappoint with all the “action” of the match, as the venues in which you fight seem to have completely forgotten to sell tickets to the events.
Playing this really reminded me that we’ve come such a long way since the days of the WCW/NWO games on Nintendo 64, but not everyone seemed to have jumped on the train to the future with us. 5-Star Wrestling is visually comparable to some of the worst looking mobile games, or some of the best Nintendo 64 or PlayStation One titles.
During the match, you will be treated to some crunchy butt-rock that would fit perfectly in any Dynasty Warriors title, but coupled with the barren visuals (plus the fact that the crowd can be heard clearly, but not seen… ever) just further cheapens the experience.
With no career mode available, game time is pretty much limited to local versus or playing against the AI, both of which offer a pretty similar experience to handing the second controller to an apricot.
So you’ve picked Ragnabrok (5-Star’s answer to Brock Lesnar) and are ready to whoop some ass. As mentioned, however, the real opponent always turns out to be hit detection and unresponsive attacks. Making your way through the 40-hour “Challenge” campaign, you’ll be tasked with completing certain objectives while in the ring, like “attempt three pinning moves in a row” or “land five attacks from the top rope”. But that hit detection… just refuses… to make things easy on you.
Each wrestler takes damage to certain portions of their body throughout the match, and it does actually have a pretty drastic effect on gameplay. For instance, weakening your opponent’s legs might mean they can’t lift you up to perform their signature move, or hurting their arms will weaken their grappling state.
The trouble that comes along with that is the fact that none of the moves in your move list describe which portion of the body is about to be attacked, so there’s a lot of experimentation involved while trying to hamper your enemies efforts. Ultimately, though, 5-Star’s clunkiness makes it too difficult.
Serious Parody may have had all the best intentions of bringing us a wrestling game that shared spirits with the best of them, but something went completely wrong. As a mobile game for 99 cents, 5-Star Wrestling would be a no brainer to buy. At $25 on the PlayStation Store, though, you’re better off doing $25 worth of damage to your PS3 with a steel chair, brother.