Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

WWE All Stars

Review: WWE All-Stars

9:00 AM on 03.29.2011 // Nick Chester

As someone who grew up in the ’80s, I have fond memories of these rubber WWF toys that I’d ricochet all over my house. Drop Hulk Hogan on his rubbery toes in just the right place and he’d spring forward, smashing face-first into an unsuspecting “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Savage would return the favor, and then I’d tumble them around in the air, textbook wrestling moves amped up to a thousand by my overactive child mind.

It was pretty awesome.

With WWE All-Stars, THQ has managed to successfully translate that childhood rush into a videogame.

I think it’s pretty awesome, too.

1

WWE All-Stars (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP)
Developer: THQ San Diego
Publisher: THQ
Released: March 29, 2011
MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) / $49.99 (Wii) / $39.99 (PSP)

I’m about to say something that, depending on the era in which you grew up playing videogames and the kind of gamer you are, may have you foaming at the mouth: WWE All-Stars is a bit like a mash-up between NBA Jam and AKI’s incredible Nintendo 64 wrestling titles. 

The NBA Jam bit certainly makes some sense -- Sal DiVita, along with many former Midway folks who now work for THQ San Diego, were instrumental in bringing NBA Jam to the market in the ’90s. We’re talking about a team of individuals who specialize in accessible, fast-paced, quarter-munching game experiences. (This also isn’t DiVita’s first time working with the WWE; he worked on 1995’s now-classic WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game.) 

WWE All-Stars is all about action, from bell to bell. It doesn’t give you more than a few seconds to breathe, whether you’re opening up a can of whoop-ass or you’re on the business end of a Tombstone Piledriver. And it’s some of the craziest, most over-the-top action you’ve ever seen in a wrestling game. Superstars effortlessly toss one another across the ring like rag dolls, sometimes from one end to the other. I was quite literally giggling with delight as I performed Mr. Perfect’s WWE All-Star Perfect-Plex for the first time -- he spins backwards numerous times through the air before slamming the poor superstar on the receiving end into the mat. The on-screen action is preposterous -- we all know pro wrestling is “fake,” but it’s at least grounded in the laws of physics -- but that’s half the fun of WWE All-Stars

From a gameplay standpoint, All-Stars is immediately more approachable than THQ’s SmackDown vs. Raw series, which has arguably become an overly convoluted mess. Here you’ve got light grapples on one button, and can perform a series of moves with the simple tap of any other. You can even move the analog stick to change your wrestler’s position and perform a whole new set of moves from that new lock-up situation. There’s also a strong grapple, which your wrestler will reach for at a reduced speed, but the payoff is a more destructive assortment of moves. 

You’ll have melee attacks at your disposal, ranging from quick strikes to slower, more powerful heavy attacks. With fast-paced combat in mind, WWE All-Stars encourages chaining these attacks together with one another, as well as with the game’s grapples. The most basic might be something like two light punches followed quickly by the grapple button, which will make your wrestler launch right into a takedown. Again, it’s all about keeping the match moving, and knowing the right combinations of moves to string together is the key to success. 

You can also juggle opponents with strikes. Yes, “juggle,” as in Tekken-style air juggles. Most wrestlers have a few moves in their arsenal that, if used in the right way, can pop your opponent into the air. Once off the ground, you can follow up with a series of well-timed strikes or even grab them out of the air for a devastating move that will send them crashing to the ground. Many characters can even string together these pop-up moves for a wild sequence of classic pro wrestling attacks. 

Because no in-game combo list exists (something has to get you interested in that Prima strategy guide, right?), there’s a lot of experimentation involved here. Fortunately, many of the combo strings are easy to discover, and most players will naturally find them over the course of a few matches. And although many seasoned gamers might see it as a weakness, most of the combos translate from wrestler to wrestler. Perhaps adding more variations would have gone a long way in making All-Stars a deeper fighter with a more difficult-to-master roster. But on the flip side, the game’s accessibility is one of its biggest strengths, and I think THQ got this one just right. 

WWE All-Stars also applies a similar blocking and reversal system to that found in AKI’s popular Nintendo 64 wrestling titles. Carefully timed shoulder-button taps will reverse holds, and it’s even possible to reverse the reversals if timed properly. For every move that can be reversed, a reasonably large icon appears near your wrestler’s HUD to let you know when in the animation the reversal can be performed. This kind of feedback goes a long way toward cutting down the habit of “reversal button mashing” that a lot of folks fall into while playing many wrestling games. While you might get lucky, knowing the timing for each animation will greatly help you both frustrate an opponent and subsequently win a match-up. 

The ultimate goal is to wear down your opponent with all of these tools, while at the same time building up meters to pull off your signature moves and, when all is said and done, your finisher. Up to three signature moves can be banked at a time, and they’re usually hyper-stylized versions of attacks you’d normally associate with that particular superstar. The “finisher” meter takes a bit more time to build up, but is the ultimate show-stopper. While you can pin opponents for the win, if an opponent’s health meter is drained to the point where it’s blinking red, one finisher will result in a KO. We’re talking a lights-out, automatic victory. 

Finishers and specials build up relatively quickly, too, particularly if you’re competently landing a wide variety of moves. There aren’t any matches that really last longer than a few minutes. Two skilled players could theoretically go back and forth in a game of cat and mouse, but whoever can land that finisher first usually has a good chance of hearing their name called after the bell. 

These signature moves and finishers are the few attacks that can’t be reversed, which I found to be a bit frustrating. Yes, it takes timing to pull off most of the moves. And because most of the signatures and finishers start with slow grapple animations, it’s possible for an opponent to evade or interrupt them with an attack. But once you’re caught in the animations, there’s simply nothing you can do. It would have been nice if you could reverse a finisher to avoid a certain loss with a combination of careful timing and use of your banked finisher or signature move. One has to assume that the developers carefully looked at their options, and decided it was in the game’s best interest to leave that out. Still, while I like the quickness and arcade-style brevity of the matches, I think those kind of last-minute “oh, damn!” finisher/signature reversals might have gone a long way in adding an extra dash of drama to matches. Regardless, what’s here is absolutely a joy to play -- to an extent because it all comes together in such a ridiculously over-the-top manner, but mostly because it just feels so smooth.

WWE All-Stars also offers up a few ways to unleash your aggression while no one else is around, including “Path of Champions” and “Fantasy Warfare.” There are three “Path of Champions” scenarios, each of which “tells a story” through entertaining in-game cut-scenes as you work your way through the ten matches of the mode. This is pretty basic stuff, and doesn’t change regardless of your character choice. The latter matches of each path can also get progressively frustrating on even the game’s default difficulty, as the game tends to stack the AI deck against you. One particularly memorable cage match had Hulk Hogan reversing nearly every grapple attack and strike I dished out. When it came time to escape the cage, inhuman Toshiyuki Takahashi-style button mashing was definitely going on behind-the-scenes. And outside of Achievements and Trophies attached to completing them with various characters, there’s not much replay value here. Still, it’s a good way to get your footing while learning gameplay beyond the basics.

The same can be said for “Fantasy Warfare,” a series of “what if?” (and a few “remember when?”) matches between current WWE Superstars and past Legends. In this case, though, THQ was sneaky, tying these matches to significant game unlocks. You can choose whichever wrestler you want for each match; in some cases, choosing the right character and winning will unlock that character for other game modes. Each match-up also features an entertaining and well-produced intro video that wrestling fans are sure to eat up. Despite the incentive to play through them and the slick fan service, it’s a fairly straightforward way to present the game to folks playing alone. While that does sort of fit the game’s arcade vibe, a deeper career mode would have been a nice touch. 

As a staple of THQ’s WWE games, a “Create-a-Superstar” mode is included in All-Stars. It’s nice to be able to craft your own fighter, although this is probably the most basic we’ve seen the mode in a WWE game in some time. There’s plenty you can do appearance-wise, but moves can only be assigned in sets based on characters already on the disc. You can choose your finishing move, but taking away the ability to customize the entire move set undercuts the experience a bit. Part of the problem comes from the fact that the on-disc roster is so incredible that there’s little chance anything you make will be able to stand toe-to-toe with these greats. 

Those gripes aside, WWE All-Stars really shines when you’re battling it out against other players. The number of exhibition game modes isn’t mind-blowing (the most interesting being a one-on-one steel-cage match), but there’s enough to keep the party rolling. While I wasn’t able to try them out before the game’s official launch, online battles are also supported. From what I can tell, the options here are pretty basic. There’s no way, for example, to create a “round-robin” game room that might mimic arcade or couch play. A handful of friends could maybe join an Xbox Live party and then hop in and out of games, but spectating on and sizing up your competition is sometimes half the fun. 

Folks who don’t play sports games (or even watch sports!) will drop everything to get in on a game of NBA Jam, thanks to its quick pace and easy-to-comprehend gameplay. In that respect, maybe WWE All-Stars is the NBA Jam of wrestling games that gamers never knew they wanted. Which, when you think about it like that, is pretty awesome.



THE VERDICT

8

WWE All Stars - Reviewed by Nick Chester
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Editor-in-Chief @ Destructoid.com nick at destructoid.com  more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
WWE All Stars


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Emily Wants To Play has come to mobile (and I wish it would go away again)

Six Reasons Why YOU Should Buy Soul Sacrifice Delta For $8!

Mega Man X Drinking Game: The Super Smashed Bros

Video Gaming Bits -- Rampage: Total Destruction

Roses are black, PS4 lights are blue; This is a game, and it has valkyries too?

Cblogs of 02/10/16 and WONDER-isms

Modern face of survival horror

Discussion Discussion on Games

PStoid Episode 38: Doomed from the Box Art

Cblogs of 2/9/16 - Only Slightly Late Edition

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

TheKodu avatarTheKodu
So I'm hearing the UN called Japan in to discus "Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women " Which by Anita's standards = any Violence able to be done. Japan sent a 40 page long NO back to the UN in reply.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Why did I have to read that Austin Grossman was going to be one of the writers on a cancelled Half-Life 2 episode?
Parismio avatarParismio
Dammit its 3 and i cant stop reading cute gay romance mangas.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Going to be honest; I love out-of-context anime screenshots. They're... kind of incredible.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Retweet of the year goes to President of Worldwide Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., Shuhei Yoshida.
Voodoome avatarVoodoome
Just got home from Deadpool and ... it's not good. I liked the jabs at Green Lantern and the previous movie Deadpool, but that was about it. The rest was just painfully forced dick jokes. Wife fell asleep.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Larxinostic rule34
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Looks like I'm not gonna be able to 100% Tearaway Unfolded until Monday at the least. I'm definitely writing about it this weekend and am trying my hardest to get my screenshots off of my PS4 (especially hard as I don't do social media anymore)
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
I've never done a blog before, so I may as well try one with a review of Stranger of Sword City....well, when I get entered into that contest of course
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Shakedown Hawaii is giving me good GTA vibes. I missed the topdown GTA games when they were a thing. I have to decide what platform to get it for since it's coming to 3DS/Vita/PS4/PC (probably the Vita version for moi).
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
You think your art sucks? Here's the rule34 I made of Larx yesterday. Look at it and despair.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Hey Dreamweaver? If you think your art sucks, you should have a look at my magnum opus. It's of Cloud from the popular game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I never thought this would happen, but here I am. all of my 700+ pokemon gone in one day. My cart stopped working and there's nothing I can do. I quit, you can't just rebuild all that. Time to find something else.
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Tom Collins is a pretty great drink, and well suited for poutine. consumption
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
It may be because I've been drinking but... We need some dung beetles from ark for the front page. Move that dung on out.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Does anyone know how to get PS4 screenshots onto a PC without needing a flash drive? I don't have a spare.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
This is an example of how bad my drawings are. I honestly think drawing stick figures would've been easier on the eyes. :( The worst thing about this image is that this was made after I got BETTER. Trust me, you don't want to see my earlier stuff. T^T
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
So I received a mysterious box in the mail today. When I opened it I was blown away...The friends I've made here on Destructoid are amazing (More pics in the comments).
Parismio avatarParismio
FRISK PACIFIES YOUR FACE!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
Woe is me. This month's Cblog theme is basically an excuse to draw pretty girls, and here I am with no time.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -