I'm old enough to remember the classic 1991 original arcade Wrestlefest, one of the most addictive, fun and frustrating games from the coin-op era I've ever played. It was a total button masher despite my best efforts to put together clean button combos, but as a kid and wrestling fan, I loved it.
Now available on iPhone and iPad, this isn't an updated version but pretty much an exact port of the original with a mix of old and new WWE superstars from Macho Man to Stone Cold to Randy Orton. Just as it was a button masher back in the day, this is a screen masher as you frantically try to win the grapple and pull out the moves to take your opponent down.
It's a tough, tough game to get right on iPhone so the bigger screen size on iPad is the way to go giving you more room to place your thumbs on the virtual joystick on the left, and the two manoeuvre buttons on the right. But it's not just the controls, it's all the graphical 2D style and sounds that make this such a fun retro title.
It plays exactly as it used to, with all the enjoyment and screen busting frustration that saw so many of my coins go into the old machines. Luckily this is only a one off payment (unless you buy DLC from the in-game shop) and for the price there are a number of different game modes and match styles including Royal Rumble, Saturday Night's Main Event Tournament, Tag Team, Gauntlet, Online Multiplayer and Road to WrestleMania including story lines.
By today's standards the gameplay is quite one-dimensional and crude but at the time it was cutting edge and to relive that is what makes Wrestlefest so appealing to older fans. Unless younger gamers understand that this is a faithfully recreated throwback, flaws and all, then they aren't likely to find much joy.
WWE Wrestlefest is a charmingly kitschy and childish title. It evokes all the feelings of old and it plays like a good old fashioned, clunky arcade game. The simplicity of it all makes it a lot of fun but it's also overbearingly difficult at times, just like it used to be, begging me to have another go.