Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend Review (PC)
In early 2004, I reviewed "Total Extreme Wrestling" from creator Adam Ryland. I put a lot of time into playing the game and ended up believing that "Total Extreme Wrestling" would be better suited for the hardcore wrestling fan as opposed to the casual fan. When Grey Dog Software asked if I would be interested in their latest title, “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend”, I decided to give Adam Ryland’s wrestling vision another shot. Right after installing my license I saw tremendous improvements, which made this game extremely easy to dive right into. The same formula is here, and it's still a text-based simulation, but the largest difference with “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” is that the "extra" graphics were already there; there was no importing, and no trying to figure out how to improve the presentation.
When I started setting up the game, I was happy to see all the little things that Ryland and his crew had added. From the pictures of the wrestlers, to little snapshots of the players doing demonstrations of the different moves; these things made things much easier in determining move sets for your wrestler, or when editing the other wrestlers. Everything is still extremely configurable. Not knowing much about “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend”, I was surprised to see initially how much different it was then "Total Extreme Wrestling". Instead of focusing on developing a wrestling federation or promotion, you completely concentrate on taking your newly created rookie wrestler from the nowhere to the glamorous world of professional entertainment.
INSTALLATION & INTERFACE
After downloading the game, installation was a snap. This is one of the few games that did not install across all the usernames on my main computer. When I wanted to play on one of my other Windows XP usernames I had to go and find the icon to play it. It's a minor issue, but can be an annoyance. Getting the license was quick and painless. I was able to install it to both of my computers quickly and easily. This game is not a system hog by any stretch. The interface from the get-go is easy to use, easily maneuverable, and quick in results. Getting information about the wrestlers or federations is easily obtained. Menus are set up to be self-explanatory, but help text pops up immediately when you're not sure what a button does. I never needed to look at any help files until a few days later - just to see what was there. The help files are very useful, so if you don't want to guess your way through, you can prepare the proper way and read first.
GRAPHICS & SOUND
As this is a text wrestling game, the graphics and sounds are going to be minimal. "Minimal" may not be the best word, however. "Pertinent" is a more proper term for the graphics. When some people think of a text game, they think of just what you are seeing here, a bunch of words and some beeps. Well, those people would be wrong in this case. The graphics in “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” are no different than what you'd see in the vast majority of menus of the most popular console games. The backdrops are colorful and easy to read, and the information is placed in easily found places. The sounds in “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” are a very positive highlight in the world of text gaming. From the opening musical theme to the wave files that are used during the matches, the “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” realm tries it's hardest to put you into the world of wrestling and succeeds on almost every attempt. Some of the items will sound repetitive after a while, but in any game, that's bound to occur.
MODES & GAMEPLAY
The actual gameplay options are rather straight forward and to the point. Exhibition mode lets you choose any of the wrestlers in the database in numerous types of matches. Only basic matches are available in the initial stages of Exhibition. Once you have played one of the career modes, you'll start unlocking other types of exhibition matches. The next mode is the meat and potatoes of the game. This is Rookie to Legend Mode, where you'll start from scratch. Once you have created a name and some vital statistics, you'll then need to customize the character. This process is time consuming, but well worth it. The choices you make here will set your course towards how you will progress throughout the early stages of your career. These choices are not basic by any means, either. The vitals you've given your wrestler will determine what moves are going to be available to choose from as well as how effective they are going to be.
“Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” is a game that shocked me. After reviewing "Total Extreme Wrestling", I didn’t expect so much out of "Wrestling Spirit", but what I've seen here in “Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” has me anticipating the release of Ryland’s next text wrestling simulation: "Total Extreme Wrestling 2005".
“Wrestling Spirit: Rookie to Legend” delivers the ingredients needed to let your imagination run wild, and immerse you into the career of an up-and-coming wrestler. There are times that you feel like you're stuck in the middle of a re-occurring dream, but with a little bit of patience, you can have a lot of fun with this title. This game is a good time-killer for a quick break from the repetition of work, or something that can be enjoyed for a couple hours at home or on the road. If you enjoy text games, this one is right up your alley - even if you really don’t care for professional wrestling. If you have never given a text game a shot, this is a good place to start. Congratulations to Adam Ryland and Grey Dog Software for delivering a winner.