When you think of wrestling in video games, you might not necessarily think of JRPGs, but developer Mega Cat Studios is concocting an experience that looks infuse those two worlds together with the upcoming WrestleQuest. Pixel art visuals, a story- and character-driven experience, and quests and side quests aplenty promise to entice JRPG fans, while with its unique combat system, renowned superstars and more, it seems to have more than enough to appeal to wrestling fans everywhere.
It’s a curious and exciting blend, so of course, we have been itching to learn more about WrestleQuest. To that end, we recently sent across some of our questions about the game, learning quite a bit about the game’s structure, combat, world, and more in the process. Below, you can read our interview with WrestleQuest’s creative director Zack Manko.
"Between a deep narrative spanning toy continents and playsets, a large playable cast that would make any stable tremble in their tights, and drama that unfolds both inside the ring and behind-the-scenes, the game puts a premium on narrative and characters."
WrestleQuest is combining old-school RPGs with the world of wrestling, which isn’t a combination we’ve seen all too often. How did the idea for that first come about?
It’s the shared DNA between pro-wrestling and RPGs. Just like a good JRPG, pro-wrestling has always been about story. From rivalries and partnerships to in-ring surprises, dramatic reveals, and behind-the-scenes machinations, part of the spectacle of wrestling is its amazing narrative and characters. With storytelling being so fundamental to both pro-wrestling and JRPGs, WrestleQuest doubles down on this element. Between a deep narrative spanning toy continents and playsets, a large playable cast that would make any stable tremble in their tights, and drama that unfolds both inside the ring and behind-the-scenes, the game puts a premium on narrative and characters.
What are the biggest ways WrestleQuest is looking to leverage its wrestling motif on the gameplay front? In particular, how have you approached how to build the game’s combat system?
On top of a story of heroism, redemption, and some seriously sweaty body slams, WrestleQuest offers JRPG players something fresh—a slamtastic battle system. Our goal with the combat was to turn up the excitement and engagement of JRPG battles by capturing the drama, action, and spectacle of pro-wrestling matches through a number of combat-specific features.
The most important of these is the Hype Meter. Every battle in WrestleQuest takes place in front of a live audience, and the Hype Meter is an on-screen indicator that represents the crowd’s interest in the fight. If you keep them engaged and entertained by putting on a good show with plenty of variety, you’ll increase the Hype Meter and unlock buffs for your party, like extra damage or extra experience. Some special moves require the Hype Meter to be above a certain level, so controlling the momentum of the fight is paramount to your success.
However, you won’t be the only ones vying for control of the audience’s interest. Your enemies can also generate hype with every attack and ability. If they can put on a better show than you, the Hype Meter will swing in their favor—meaning you’ll be hit with debuffs and penalties instead of bonuses.
Similarly, pinning opponents was an easy thing to adopt from pro-wrestling. While reducing an enemy to zero HP is enough to claim victory in most RPGs, enemies are not truly defeated in WrestleQuest until you go for the 1-2-3 count. Nail three button presses and the enemy is down and out, but miss one and they’ll kick out with partially restored HP, ready for vengeance.
Of course, wrestling isn’t just about the battle in the ring—it’s also about the battle on the mic! Before pivotal boss battles, you’ll have the opportunity to do some trash-talking when Cutting Promos to get inside your opponent’s head, gain Hype, and start the match with a huge advantage. Beware, however, as your rivals will also get the chance to sling some insults and get the crowd on their side instead.
There are several other wrestling-based combat systems we have in store, and combat isn’t the only element that’s been wrestlified. We’ve also taken a wrestle-first approach to other aspects of the game, including many familiar JRPG mechanics. For example, instead of “find the key to unlock the door” trope from JRPG dungeons, players will be slamming through tables that block the way. Even NPCs have been given a fresh, wrestly coat of face paint.
"There are several other wrestling-based combat systems we have in store, and combat isn’t the only element that’s been wrestlified. We’ve also taken a wrestle-first approach to other aspects of the game, including many familiar JRPG mechanics."
It seems WrestleQuest is going to focus quite a bit on various wrestling icons and use them as a basis for the places players will visit in the game. Can you tell us more about that? How directly will different worlds be influenced by different wrestlers?
Truly a wrestling fan’s dream project, WrestleQuest features legendary wrestlers like André the Giant, Booker T, Jeff Jarrett, and Macho Man Randy Savage—our roster spans decades and promotions, featuring talent from all over the world. These larger-than-life icons appear as Statue of Liberty-esque shrines across the land, inspiring new generations of slam junkies to get into the ring and chase their dreams!
Each of these statue-shrines offers a side quest that is based on the wrestler. For example, the Road Warriors shrine holds the key to an exciting adventure through a Mad Max-style desert wasteland. Completing these quests results in powerful loot, unforgettable battles, and even the chance to summon these wrestlers into battle! That’s right, while other RPGs might let you summon a dragon or monster to the battlefield, only WrestleQuest lets you call in Jake the Snake to rip an earth-shaking DDT on your foes.
Some of the wrestling legends play a more intricate role in the game’s central storyline, but we don’t want to give away anything, so you’ll have to play to find out.
What can players expect from WrestleQuest in terms of what kind of side content it will offer?
WrestleQuest is definitely a JRPG in terms of its main storyline and character arcs. However, there is plenty of side content to explore. For example, the game offers a crafting system, and to get the best components for it, you have to defeat enemies with the Hype Meter above a certain level, which means putting on a good show during combat.
Additionally, the game offers numerous minigames, like Pile Driving Racing, Kaiju Gauntlets, Pachinko, and more. You’ll encounter several of these as part of the main story, and you can revisit them in the game’s arcade. Getting the high score on all the arcade cabinets can be quite rewarding…
Of course, the biggest chunk of side content comes from the Wrestler Statues. Each real wrestler shrine serves as the starting point for a special side quest dedicated to that wrestler. Most of them are optional, but they lead to some of the game’s most powerful abilities and gear.
How much of an emphasis will the game put on exploration?
Getting through the main quest line is as easy as following the steps in the Quest Tracker and the objective markers on the minimap radar. However, you’ll miss out on a ton of content if you only follow these guidelines. Many treasure chests, side quests, and other rewards await those willing to search for them. This is especially true of late-game content, where the most challenging (and rewarding) quests and dungeons are optional and require some exploration to be found.
"While other RPGs might let you summon a dragon or monster to the battlefield, only WrestleQuest lets you call in Jake the Snake to rip an earth-shaking DDT on your foes."
Can you talk to us about WrestleQuest’s progression mechanics? How expansive will they be, and what can players expect in terms of how much the game emphasizes options and build variety?
At its core, the character progression in WrestleQuest is similar to that of a classic JRPG, with stats increasing and new abilities unlocking upon level up. However, we’ve injected some player choice and customizability within that framework. For example, the game has a Face/Heel (karma) system that impacts what type of passive abilities are available for each character.
Additionally, players have complete control over how they influence the Hype Meter through the Hype Types system. Hype Types are classes players can assign to units to determine how they generate hype. For instance, the Powerhouse type will generate hype by attacking and scoring critical hits. Technicians will get a bonus by applying debuffs and submissions. The Showman type taunts and pulls off button presses to raise the meter.
Any character can take any Hype Type, so finding the right mix adds depth and customizability to the combat. How you approach battles and the Hype Meter is up to you—and it’s also just one thing you’ll have to consider in between the slams and suplexes.
Equipment is another avenue for customization. Many accessories and other gear will give you more than just a stat boost. For instance, a character equipped with the Gusher Badge will generate hype when they take damage, encouraging the player to use them as a damage soak. Combine this with the Underdog Mask, which raises damage when the unit’s HP is less than half, and you’ve got a powerful combination.
WrestleQuest also offers a massive stable of playable characters, each with their own flavor. More importantly, these characters can tag up for tandem Tag Team maneuvers. Players can pick their party based on a well-crafted hype generation strategy to achieve combat superiority, or based on which characters appeal to them the most. It all comes down to slamming the way you want to slam.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of WrestleQuest be?
WrestleQuest will keep you slamming and adventuring for 40-50 hours, and more for anyone that wants to explore every corner of this sweaty universe. We hope that WrestleQuest’s storyline, characters, and fun stay with you for much longer!