If you grew up in the '80s, it's impossible not to feel a pang of nostalgia when it comes to the campy antics of wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior.
It was an age of neon tights, shouty nonsensical promos to camera and gimmicks that included live snakes, being extremely fat and erm... liking Honky Tonk music. WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania's appeal is built on this more innocent age, and as a result feels like the first fresh wrestling game we've had in years.
It's not just a handful of wrestlers and arenas either; the integration of a wealth of old TV footage is a brilliant way of reminding yourself of the ridiculous feuds between the various faces of the WWF (or World Wildlife Fund, as it used to be called).
There are three separate 'tours' to play through, and every one has between six and seven chronologically ordered match-ups complete with a video of the context and then the events of the actual match. The meatiest is the Relive tour, which lets you play some of the Federation's famous matches between the most bankable stars.
It's perfect both for reminding old-school fans and informing newer wrestleheads as to the importance of the match, and is the kind of thing we'd like to see in more retro sports games.
The in-ring action has been changed, too. For a start, the brawling is much more straightforward, fast and accessible than previous games in the series. Rather than a bloated grappling simulation, this pares wrestling down to the fun stuff - large men knocking seven (mostly neon) shades of Spandex out of each other.
Complex moves and finishers are executed through multi-stage quicktime events, but because they're not the be-all and end-all of a match they're less frustrating than most QTEs.
There's also a neat new mechanic in Tour mode that requires you to perform memorable moments from the match in-game. You'll progress as long as you win the match, but attempting to grab those gold medals is compulsive and satisfying.
Sadly, only the Relive tour has unique objectives - the other two just have generic ones, such as Perform a Finisher or complete three strong grapple attacks. Given that the developer went to the trouble of compiling footage for every match, how hard would it have been to tailor some unique goals based on the actual event for the player to complete?
Pain in the ring
There's only one real problem with Legends of Wrestlemania's focus on the days of yore, and that's the lack of variety in the moves. Watching the Honky Tonk Man perform the same lame leg-punching move as Jake The Snake robs them both of some of their personality. In a game that's about the most brash characters the Federation has produced, it's a bit of a shame they're not more uniquely identifiable. Our other quibbles are more minor.
It would have been nice to see more classic tag teams represented. Also, while an option to import characters and wrestlers from Smackdown is welcome, Legends has more match types, and more longevity. Surely an export option would be more useful?
Otherwise, WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania is a likeable spinoff, and in travelling back in time it also returns the wrestling game to the realms of arcade simplicity that has been missing from recent grappling games.
Okay, it's a lighter package than the annual Smackdown update, but with the inclusion of a huge hunk of videos and a pitch-perfect retro flair, this return to the golden age of wrestling is well worth a look.
The change of scenery and pace works well
- Classic wrasslers
- Great archive video
- Objectives are satisfying
- Small set of moves
- Won't last long