Garrett Hobson Reviews Chikara AAW

Per Wikipedia, the Chikara name and logo come from the Japanese kanji meaning strength. Is the Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling game a game worth of that name and logo? The answer – probably not.

Chikara is a fun US based professional wrestling promotion based out of Philadelphia. They never take themselves too seriously and they involve celebrities and wrestlers of all types to participate in their fun. One of my favorite things to watch is the Chikara King of Trios tournament, where 3-man teams from inside and outside the company compete to be known as the best 3-Man tag team in the known universe. It is everything about what is fun and cool about independent wrestling. This spirit of fun is absolutely what the game is trying to capture as well as being an easy and accessible game of wrestling.

The game has tried to simplify wrestling gaming in a way that hasn’t been done in a while. Unlike the WWE 2K series or the Fire Pro wrestling series, the game basically is two buttons (punch and grapple) and a switch focus button. You go through a short tutorial when you fire up the game for the first time so you can understand what each button does and when to use it, and then you are ready to go to town. You have a strike and strike combo, you have quick and long grapples, a few heavy strikes, running strikes, a few dives, and some weapon interaction. Once you pick it up, you won’t really have to think about it too much to get into it. There are no fancy gimmick meters or extravagant button combinations. The game is as arcade as the title, you have some life bars and you just hurt your opponent until you can hit them with your finisher (often a strong grapple where you hit both buttons. The developers are patching regularly since release, but you still have some strange collision detection issues and disconnected animations, especially as you get closer to the ropes, but I imagine that many of those will be resolved soon. The real problem with the game is the action is lifeless. The AI isn’t great, and unless you are sitting down with multiple controllers and playing with friends, you are going to be facing the AI. The AI doesn’t do much on normal mode except standard grapples. They don’t utilize throwing out of the ring or doing diving moves very often. Because there isn’t a huge amount of variety, you’ll find yourself repeating the 10 grappling moves that your character has to wear out your opponent. There is a block for strikes, but grapples you mostly dodge, or hit at the same time to get into a button smashing minigame for control. The camera always stays in the same orientation but does move with you when you go outside the ring (though has some strange issues in a multiple person match).

Moves are flashy and fun as the Chikara roster has quite a cast of characters, including throwing fire or electricity. In general gameplay is responsive, but you can find yourself not being in the exact right place
to pick up your opponent or climb the corner.

The game has a fairly sparse set of modes, as it is a budget title. 1 v 1, tornado tag matches and elimination matches are available. The tutorial can be accessed at any time, and you can also access download creations as well as the character creation suite. The character creation suite might be the real focus of the game.

There are already amazing creations in the character creation tool, and it is a deep tool that allows you to make just about anyone you want. There is a great #2 pencil, and the roster from NES Pro Wrestling. The arena creation is great as well, and there are already wonderful options available for download. You can scroll through a set of featured creations, or the most downloaded, or search by keyword or creator. I would have liked to be able to see creations by “new” or random so I could see what other great stuff is being done by other creators out there, but the creations that are available are awesome.

The creation suite itself gives you quite a bit of creation options as far as look/hair/accessories/body type. You can upload textures for parts and have full color select abilities. The options in there can almost be daunting if you want to make someone/something simple, but there is a good chance someone created a great version of what you were trying to make online already.

I was unable to match with someone online to see how that plays, and I’ve read that it is a common problem. Considering that playing against people instead of AI is a far more enjoyable process, hopefully as the days go by, more people will be online to play.

Final Thoughts
There is a good audience for this game, for people that would like something like a basic fighting game, or people that like wrestling, and want to see fun matchups in the game without having to look at the menu every five minutes. The price for this title and the simple fun put this likely right in your wheel house. For those of you that enjoy the depth of Fire Pro or WWE 2K games, this game will not come close to scratching the itch for you, and it is probably not even worth the budget price.

3 Stars