In 2009, Total NonStop Action (TNA) Wrestling was released. Surprisingly, it was a turn-based strategic wrestling game, with RPG elements, enabling your wrestler to "level-up". That game later disappeared from the App Store, with players in the thread suggesting their license expired. Now, another TNA Wrestling game has been released by Bight Interactiveand Namco Bandai.

TNA Wrestling iMPACT [$4.99] opens with bright lights and an electric guitar soundtrack, which introduces the entertainment spectacle that is modern wrestling. It's a good introduction, and perfectly sets the scene for just how over the top this kind of wrestling is.

Career and exhibition modes are offered, with three levels of difficulty. Career mode let's you to play as either your favorite TNA superstar, or a custom made character. There are three career tournaments to play, including TNA heavyweight, X-division and tag-team. Winning matches in career mode improves your wrestler by enhancing their power, toughness, speed and/or charisma. Winning all three tournaments will unlock Hulk Hogan. In Exhibition mode, there's six match types, each with different win conditions, namely: Standard, Submission, Falls Count Anywhere, No Disqualifications, Cage and Tag-Team. Multi Player is available locally via bluetooth or wifi, or online via Game Center.

The game features 24 TNA wrestling superstars, each with their own entrance, costume and signature moves. Alternatively, you can create-a-wrestler, customizing the name, fighting style, signature moves, physical appearance, costume and attributes. Each wrestler is either a brawler, powerhouse or high-flier, which determines their fighting style and special moves.

Wrestling fans will be pleased to know there's a variety of moves available, including: Body Slam, Suplex, DDT, Piledriver, Spinebuster, Facebreaker, and the Backbreaker. Finishing moves include: Blackhole Slam, Border Toss, Running Leg Drop, Olympic Slam and Chaos Theory to name a few. You can also pick-up objects like bats from the crowd, or chairs, as weapons.

The controls consist of a virtual D-Pad, with buttons for attack, grapple and run. Additional special context-sensitive buttons appear when required for finishing moves, pinning the opponent, climbing (turnbuckle or cage), entering / exiting the ring, taking weapons or tagging your partner. Completing attacking moves successfully fills up your "impact bar", which makes your special finishing move available.

High scores and achievements are integrated with Game Center, with over 25 achievements. Extra content, such as outfits and alternative ring themes can be accessed by installing and starting certain other games, to earn the "TNA Stars" necessary to make the purchases.

I'm sure this all sounds amazing if you're a wrestling fan. Really, TNA Wrestling Impact offers a lot of features; but given the dubious history of wrestling games on the App Store, is this one awesome to play? Sadly, the answer is "not really". It's okay, not superb.

The first disappointment occurs during the introduction, when the characters speak without voice overs. With games like FIFA 11 and Fight Night providing quality commentary and other voice work, it's disappointing to see the wrestling characters communicate via subtitles, while their animated mouths flap endlessly and the same hand gestures loop over and over. It's difficult to convey the energy, showmanship and bravado of wrestling via sub-titles.

Once the match begins, the wrestler's movements feel slow and cumbersome, rather than smooth and exciting. Opponents occasionally fall over without any contact being made. Graphical glitches occur regularly, with the opponents boots disappearing inside your body, body parts being obscured by the ring or one wrestler walking straight through another. Brushing against a barrier outside the ring causes your superstar to collapse. The pumping music at the start disappears during gameplay, leaving the unrealistic sound of the crowd, who appear to be related to each other. At least, the same figures, in the same clothes, appear repeatedly. Interestingly, from some angles the audience are all facing away from the ring.

The game sometimes surprises by busting out a new move, like pummeling the opponent while standing on the ropes and pinning them in the corner. There's also satisfaction to be had from pulling off moves successfully, especially of the aerial variety, but overall the wrestling gets repetitive quickly. Overall, TNA Wrestling Impact seems to have a lot of potential, but ultimately fails in overall execution, which seems to be par for the course for most wrestling games-- Especially in the mobile world.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Blueknight1st

    Is anyone really surprised that it sucks?

  • ReasonJP

     Sadly, the original TNA Impact game on iphone from a couple of years ago is unavailable now, but took an RPG/adventure game approach with dialogue trees and turn based combat. It proved wrestling games on the phone could be fresh fun and original, three things this isn't.

  • Maximilian Meyer

     It's not that bad, better than "WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010" and the Graphics look better, too, aswell as the Gameplay.

    I wonder if THQ will ever port their WWE-Series to iDevices, as Infinity Blade shows us, the Graphics can be much better than on PSP.

  • thomas

    smack down vs raw is beter 

  • Guest
  • Scott Morris

    The few positives first: graphically it's basic, but competent, and there's a decent roster selection.

    The negatives are everything else.

    There are things that are out and out missing, like match commentary, or pretty much any sound effect at all. There's no in-match music, and I hope you like the first fifteen seconds of the theme song as you'll be, bafflingly, hearing it on a ear-achingly annoying loop in every menu, including the create-a-wrestler mode.

    The otherwise reasonable CAW mode hints at the other problem with the game, as you select the two (yes, two, as in one more that one) moves that your wrestler can perform in the normal course of things. Two? C'mon, folks. I suppose it's accurate for Hulk Hogan, but it's lobotomised for everyone else.

    Things are no better in the ring, with no atmosphere, sluggish movement and super-dodgy timing leading to missed moves aplenty. Which, actually, might not be a bad simulation of an actual TNA match, but it makes off a disastrously poor video game.

    Marvel at the number of times you ponderously attempt to stomp on someone halfway through a standing up animation. Wonder at the number of times the AI decides the best thing to do is run away from you, off the ropes, and let you get a free drop kick in, which has such dodgy hit collision you can practically perform on the other side of the ring and still see the other dude fall over. Thrill to DDTing a guy ten times in a row because, as Pulp teach us, there's nothing else to do.

    We're only scratching the surface here, folks, but if you want to waste your cash on a catalogue of disappointments then this is the game for you. This is an embarrassment to all concerned, and I worry about the number of 5 star reviews this had. They must be fraudulent, as I cannot fathom the mind of anyone who could claim this is competent, let alone enjoyable. Even at the current sale price, it's a total rip off.

    Dreadful.

TNA Wrestling iMPACT Reviewed by Troy Woodfield on . Rating: 3