Hands-on: TNA Wrestling iMPACT! for iOS/Android

On Wednesday night, I was at Namco Bandai’s big carnival of exciting new videogames or “press event.” A whole slew of their latest stuff was on display, including the new TNA Wrestling iMPACT!, which I had a chance to play around with a bit.

I’m not a huge wrestling fan, per se, but I do appreciate the entertainment value of gigantic men hurting each other, so it’s nice to see this being brought to mobile gaming in full force. For a mobile game, TNA Wrestling iMPACT! offers an incredible robust amount of options, including character creation, career mode, achievements, and multiplayer. Hit the jump for an in-your-face piledrivin’ powerhouse of preview! Oh YEAH! </machoman>


TNA Wrestling iMPACT!

Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

To Be Released: February 22, 2011

The gameplay itself is ambitious, allowing players a virtual touch-screen thumbstick (is there an official name for those things yet?) to control their wrestler’s movements, and buttons for attacks. The fist makes him punch, the grabbing-hand makes you grab, and the icon of a guy running is for your special movie. While playing, other buttons will pop up momentarily for time-sensitive moves, like pinning your opponent.

I didn’t really get into the storyline of career mode much, but there seems to be a fair amount going on there, and there’s a nice little dialogue system that entails a fair amount of Hulk Hogan calling you “brother.” But that’s par for the course, really.

In career mode, players can create their own wrestler, customizing everything from his special moves down to his hairstyle, and fight in matches until they’re crowned TNA Heavyweight, Tag Team or X-Division champion. There are a total of five different match types, including cage match, tag-team, and submission, and twenty in-game achievements to earn.

The pacing of the gameplay in wrestling titles has never been my favorite, probably because it seems sluggish compared to fighting games where you can throw fireballs, so I’m probably not the best person to gauge how TNA Wrestling iMPACT! handles. Compared to other wrestling games I’ve played, it felt about right for a mobile touchscreen title. (Still, needs more fireballs.)

I played the game first on an iPad, and then on a smaller HTC touchscreen phone. By comparison, playing on the phone was a lot more enjoyable, since it felt like a handheld. The size and placement of the buttons made me want to keep the iPad flat on a table, but the joystick is something that seems to work better if you pick the device up. The iOS version, however, features multiplayer support through the iTunes Game Center, which is a big selling point.

TNA Wrestling iMPACT!
will be hitting the full spectrum of mobile devices. This includes iOS, Android, J2ME, Java, BREW, Windows Mobile and RIM. The versions I played were for iOS and Android, and they look great, but it’s nice to see versions of the game are being released for non-powerhouse mobile phones. From what I’ve seen, the lower-tech iterations have a nice 16-bit feel to them. It’s nice that Namco Bandai hasn’t forgotten that not everyone’s phone can render full 3D environments.

The iOS version is universal, and will sell for $4.99. The other versions have not been priced yet. All versions will be available on February 22nd.

Max Scoville