Right, so let’s get one thing out the way first: Puroresu Yaroze is not a wrestling game. It is barely a game for a start, and wrestling is a mere skin for some super basic rock paper scissors battling.

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You’re not working a wrestling match here, not building to finishers, not allowing your offense to develop in complexity and danger, and certainly not listening to the crowd and making decisions to suit. Instead, you have a tiny arsenal of three moves available to you. Those three moves are steadily unlocked or purchased from a library of 150 on initial release, and fit into one of three categories. Strikes, slams and submissions are arranged in an RPS format, but that doesn’t mean that a strike will always beat a suplex. Instead, your moves have a damage value attached to them; if you go with a weak chop of 50 damage and your opponent a German suplex of 250, the game rules mean you get a boost, but only to, say 80. The move with the higher damage value wins every time.

That, apart from the wrinkle of being able to counter an opponent’s attack once per match, is all there is to Yaroze. It is, in fact, an even simpler take on wrestling than Sammy’s recent ProWrestler o Tsukuro, which had a similar take on match structure, but a broader range of moves to choose from at any point in a match. Here you have the same three moves throughout, even if it makes the matches seem disjointed and choppy, as you find yourself mysteriously teleported outside the ring to catch a quebrada, for instance.

Still, it romps along at a quick enough pace that the limited arsenal doesn’t make things too repetitive. A match takes a minute, tops, and then it’s onto the next opponent in a variety of leagues. A regular campaign of beating NJPW stars to advance is joined by five daily matches that dole out more experience points and thus more virtual currency, a random series of tune up matches, and special bouts that restrict certain moves. There’s none of the tag teaming or faction warfare of Tsukuro though, and an altogether less social, community driven feel to the whole thing.

The kokeshi is as rarely hit, and Honma is as easily beaten as in real life, it appears.

The kokeshi is as rarely hit, and Honma is as easily beaten as in real life, it appears.

What gravitates wrestling fans like me to the game in the face of weak community and multiplayer features (try as I might, I couldn’t find an online game) is that New Japan wrapper. 27 NJPW stars come up as opponents, despite most wrestler models looking like they were made by having a wrestler described to an artist rather than actually having the artist, I dunno, watch some wrestling. Their vocal jibes, too, admirably directly recorded from the real life talent, are ridiculously low rent, sounding like they were taken from wrestlers in an echoey locker room before a show, and without a shred of energy. It really puts the ‘eh’ in ‘yeaoh!’.

You unlock a ridiculous amount of gear to put on your created wrestler, though, and the 150 moves here are fairly well animated. Go to an NJPW live event or meet and greet, and you’ll be able to download extra secret content, and it appears as if the previously unheard of Zex and NJPW are looking to support this heavily going forward. It’s just a bit of a shame that New Japan finally stepping back between the gaming ropes in the current environment means producing something that’s, while inoffensive, more than a little bland.

THE PAYWALL

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There is some fairly stringent free to play nonsense to deal with here. Standard FTP twin currencies are present, and there’s a stamina system in place, too. The game’s pretty generous with giving you create parts, and only the more hardcore fans will likely tip money into getting a Shinsuke Nakamura taunt, say, but moves are the big issue here.

Powerful moves are a must against stronger opponents, and to get enough virtual coin to get those meatier maneuvers without spending real cash takes some serious grinding. Grinding that is, of course, restricted by the stamina system. The game rarely makes you wait long to get back into the ring, but five minutes is enough to make you shrug and jam your phone back in your pocket, forgetting about the game. More gross is an injury system, where you’ll occasionally get hurt, forcing you to spend stamina, and thus chances to play the game, in order to heal.

Then there’s the fact that a lot of potential moves is gated behind a gacha system because this is Japan. A gacha chance can only be purchased with premium currency. Fine, but if you want to enter a gacha for a new move, these are tiered according to their efficacy. If you want a move that will be useful against an opponent from the second of the game’s five tiers, that’ll cost ten coins. Against a level three opponent, 15. This means that by the time you’ve ground enough currency to buy a move that’s useful against one opponent, you’ve likely moved onto the next tier by sheer luck and persistence, until the inevitable hard wall is run into.

This is a case of every trick in the freemium book being thrown at Yaroze, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. Just a gacha, or premium shop for special parts or moves? Fine. A stamina system restricting play? Fine. Both at once? No thanks.

About The Author

Gamer, Educator, Writer of Stuff, wrestler of professionals (sometimes)