WrestleQuest is a game that plenty of people – ourselves included – have had their eye on since its announcement over a year ago. Its premise of a retro-inspired JRPG set in a world that revolves around wrestling is a massively intriguing one, and add to that its gorgeous visuals and its promise of endearing character and addictive combat and progression mechanics, and it becomes even more of an alluring game.
Last year, shortly after the game’s announcement, in an interview with creative director Zack Manko, we learned plenty about WrestleQuest’s story, combat, progression mechanics, and much more, but of course, with the game’s launch now just around the corner, there’s plenty more information about it that’s become available. To follow up on all of those details and learn more about the game in the lead-up to its release, we recently reached out to developer Mega Cat Studios with a few more of our questions. Below, you can read our interview with Mega Cat Studios founder James Deighan.
"The lifeblood of both JRPGs and pro-wrestling is story and larger-than-life characters. We wanted to give players that epic-scale JRPG story they expect, told through a wrestling lens."
How much of an emphasis is WrestleQuest placing on story and storytelling, especially given its JRPG influences?
A ton! The lifeblood of both JRPGs and pro-wrestling is story and larger-than-life characters. We wanted to give players that epic-scale JRPG story they expect, told through a wrestling lens.
One of WrestleQuest’s most interesting visual elements is how it represents its characters as action figures. How did the idea for that first come about, and what does it add to the experience?
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have a unique visual identity, maintain a pixel art aesthetic, and evoke a strong sense of nostalgia. For many of us, our strongest and earliest memories of wrestling started with the action figures. It also allows us to capture some of the fantasy that we wanted in WrestleQuest, from the animation to the feeling of being “in the playroom” throughout the game.
WrestleQuest is of course making use of plenty of external licenses. How complex has the process been of managing to nail those down, especially given the game’s unique premise and how it intends to use those licenses?
The licensing was interesting with WrestleQuest. We made a constant effort to do our due diligence as to not step on WWE’s toes, and make sure that, front and center, we were doing the character and estate’s justice to put them on the pedestal they deserve. Having a unique gameplay genre, visual identity, and use of licenses allowed us to follow our WrestleQuest dream as we’re exploring the use of these characters in a way that hasn’t been done before.
WrestleQuest is looking like Mega Cat’s biggest project ever, and by quite some margin. Can you talk to us about what that behind-the-scenes escalation has looked like and how your studio has grown to deliver a game on this scale?
I wish I had a more romantic version of the story. At one point, we decided that life is too short, and we may as well love the games we’re working on. As any indie studio can attest, it’s a constant challenge to stay excited and engaged with work for hire projects when the entire reason you joined the games industry was to make an impact, build a legacy, and contribute something to the fandom you’re personally invested in. WrestleQuest is our big bet on ourselves.
"We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have a unique visual identity, maintain a pixel art aesthetic, and evoke a strong sense of nostalgia."
The quality and volume of optional content can tend to make or break JRPGs. What should players expect from WrestleQuest on that front?
WrestleQuest does not pull any punches in the content department. Each legendary wrestler has their own themed side-quest, which unlock the game’s best rewards. For example, if you complete the Andre the Giant quest, you get the ability to summon him into combat, where he picks up the entire ring and slams it down, damaging your enemies.
Add that to numerous minigames, risk-reward arenas, and 40+ hours of core story content, and you’ll see that WrestleQuest has more than enough to keep you in the ring for the long run.
What can you tell us about the enemy variety and bosses in WrestleQuest?
Creating a spectacular combat system was one of our primary goals with WrestleQuest. We wanted to take that classic turn-based JRPG system and wrestlify it to make it better than ever.
Our enemies are a large part of that wrestlification process. Some enemies are just grunts that can be taken out easily. However, enemy wrestlers aren’t out when you reduce them to zero HP. To truly eliminate them, you’ll have to Pin them through the game’s reaction mechanics. Fail, and they’ll kick out with HP restored, ready to fight again.
Bosses go one step further in their presentation and spectacle. Before each major battle, you’ll perform a customizable walk-on routine down the entrance ramp. After that, you’ll cut a promo on your opponent, talking trash on the mic. Both of these systems allow you to build Hype, so you can start the battle with some buffs!
Additionally, boss battles themselves are themed after various match types, to increase the drama. You’ll take part in tag-team matches, hair vs hair bouts, multi-opponent rumbles, and more!
What can you tell us about the different locations and worlds that players will explore in WrestleQuest, and how varied they’ll be in terms of their design, visual style, and the kind of content they’ll have on offer?
WrestleQuest wrestlifies the tired, stale JRPG environments we’ve all been through time and time again. Rather than one more medieval-themed fantasy world, WrestleQuest is full of fresh locations. You’ll springboard off turnbuckles through ring-themed dungeons. You’ll track down a wrestling cult through a face paint store. You’ll battle through the corporate enclaves of scheming pro-wrestling execs.
Furthermore, each town in WrestleQuest is themed after a different regional style. Puroshi, for example, is themed after Japanese strong style puroresu. Early in the game you’ll come to a hardcore/extreme wrestling city. There is an entire continent inspired by lucha libre. We wanted to show every spice wrestling has to offer.
The Xbox Series S features lesser hardware compared to Xbox Series and Microsoft is pushing it as a 1440p/60 FPS console. Do you think it will be able to hold up for the more graphically intensive games as this generation progresses?
Seeing what Unreal 5 is capable of, I’m excited for the next generation of consoles. That said, I do think that great games don’t require great hardware, but great hardware makes great graphics accessible to developers and players alike.
"Creating a spectacular combat system was one of our primary goals with WrestleQuest. We wanted to take that classic turn-based JRPG system and wrestlify it to make it better than ever."
What frame rate and resolution will the game target on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S?
For frame rate, we’re looking at a buttery, baby oily 60 fps on PlayStation and Xbox platforms.
What are your thoughts on the Steam Deck? Do you have plans for any specific optimizations for the device?
We are absolutely massive fans of the Steam Deck, and have included it as a target device since its launch!