Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lucha Libre AAA: Héroes del Ring Review

When I first heard about a lucha libre wrestling/fighting game, with a Mexican publisher and Latin American developers, I was estatic. Growing up Latino in the US during the 1980s is a mirror of racial harmony and backlash. As a young kid, I wanted to fit in with the kids in school, but not made fun of the food I ate at lunch. Young latin kids, to this day, must find a balance between this dualness or veilness. Because of the aforementioned ideas, Lucha Libre AAA is a very important IP to the young latin kids the game will undoubtedly be marketed to.

The company, Slang, who is behind Lucha Libre AAA is based out of Mexico City and has been in the video game distribution business for countless of years in Latin America. An interview with myself and Federico Beyer of Slang, detailing their motivations is hosted on bitmob. Lucha Libre AAA has enough features to hold its targeted audience of adolescent boys and young men who are into the wrestling and fighting genre, but the game has key critical flaws.
One of the core features is the build your character. While other games like UFC and Fight Night, only feature certain subset of physique options. In Lucha Libre AAA having the option to build costumes and masks, hours could be spent alone in creating ones character. The options continued with a customizable ring-set of moves. While wrestling moves seem similiar, there are unique moves to Lucha Libre like La Hurucana and La Campana.

The story mode campaign, which must be played to unlock wrestlers, are actually two. One side you play as a technico or as rudo. As one progresses, the technicos are the heros and the rudos are the heels. The game awards players with star-points (move sets are based on reward points labeled as stars) all leading up to a finishing move. As a tecnico, fairness and highflying moves get extra points, whereas a rudo, gets awarded points for fighting dirty and outside the ring.

The culmination of winning matches, with your custom wrestler, is the historical/documentary style video of Lucha Libre. These vidoes show the beginning of Lucha Libre in Mexico, the Super Campeonato and the dynasties of Mexican luchador families. The hometown heroes, as my mother is from La Cormaca Lagunera, is the Wagner Family; Dr Wagner, Dr Wagner Jr and Silver King.

It is also interesting, but not relevant to the review, Silver King played as Ramses in Nacho Libre and recently, change his name to Silver Cain. Dr Wagner Jr, recently has a feud with his brother Silver Cain, with Cain showing a video of their deceased father claiming Cain is the better wrestler. Drama.

Lucha Libre AAA does indeed have its flaws. Besides the miniscule glitches; sound going off and on, long loading and multiple screens between fights. There are two issues that plagues the game. First, the difficulty level balance. Easy is too easy and Normal is ridicously hard. While playing on Normal, the AI countered every move, and while knocked down on the canvas, repeatedly pressing X to get up was tiring and frustrating. On Easy, the notch of difficulty was as simple as a few body slams, and then the finishing move all within a quick minute. For future iterations, there must be a better balance between the difficulty levels.

The second issue was the relaince on the counter move, where counters are super important in Dead or Alive and other fighting games, in Lucha Libre the counter relies on a time press of the L1 Button. Too early or too late, your wreslter gets hit. But when one becomes the master of the counter, the later stages of the story mode the game becomes a one button-fest. And with the later stages reling solely on countering, frustation starts to set in as the timing seem to be off at times. Forget in trying to attack the AI, as the computer controlled wrestler will counter every move.

Lucha Libre is a good game, even with ill timed game-breaking flaws, the highlights outweigh them. The wrestling and fighting genre is thick marketplace, but Lucha Libre AAA has enough quality attributes to give a chance on. For Latinos living in the US, with enough support, we may see Slang try for an encore American release in the near future.
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