Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Wrestling MPire Remix [official site], creator Mat Dickie claims, is “the PC’s biggest and best wrestling simulator”. I think he’s probably right.
Dickie makes mobile games these days. There’s a superhero sim, a school sim, wrestling sims, an MMA game, and more besides. Even though the settings are varied, they all play similarly. At school or in prison, you suplex people who piss you off, and almost every item in the world can be picked up, lobbed, set on fire and used as a weapon.
Wrestling MPire Remix is a re-release of a 2008 game. It’s free to download and it has a great deal in common with Dickie’s later work – it’s chaotic, messy, unrestrained and feels like playing with a bunch of action figures. Whether he’s making a Jesus simulator or a pop music management game, Dickie takes the same approach: throw everything at the wall and hope at least some of it sticks. It’s a style of design that suits professional wrestling, which often seems to operate on similar principles. How else to explain The Shockmaster or Isaac Yankem?
The weird chaos of Wrestling MPire sometimes creates situations that feel more like wrestling than any big budget licensed sim ever could. It can be incoherent and the AI often struggles to cope with the basics, but look up a random episode of Monday Night RAW from years gone by and you’re likely to see some of the same incoherence and in-ring struggles. The loose and playful design allows Wrestling MPire to capture the strange appeal of professional wrestling, for better and for worse, and Dickie’s move to mobile deprives PC folks of a vital competitor in the world of virtual grappling: the independent travelling carnival to sit alongside 2K’s corporate empire.