WWE TapMania Review
I really love wrestling but recent wrestling games, and especially the mobile ones, haven’t been a great experience for me. WWE Champions was enough of a Puzzle and Dragons/Candy Crush clone that I wasn’t terribly interested and never actually got around to downloading and trying it. Plus, the art style did no justice to the wrestlers as caricatures and, if they didn’t have voices with them in the commercials often aired during live events, I couldn’t connect them. WWE Immortals felt like an ill-fit for phone-sized mobile devices. NetherRealm Studios worked on this one and it really shows with the Mortal Kombat and Injustice-esque combat but trying to combo simply didn’t work for me on a mobile device. WWE 2K feels like it would be much the same. 2K’s other game, WWE SuperCard, is another one that never really caught me as card based games were never anything I was particularly interested in. WWE TapMania from Sega and The Tap Lab feels like the perfect intersection of platform, style, and game.
If you’re looking for true 3D models or hyper realistic renditions of your favorite wrestlers, this really isn’t the game for you. But if what you want is bright, colorful, and easy to read? Then I think we might have something for you. The art here is a lot like if someone looked at Serg Acuña’s art for the current Boom Studios ongoing then made SD chibis of the main roster. There are time when that style ends up clashing hard with the wrestler’s actual appearance. Xavier Woods and Big E of the New Day, Naomi, and Shinsuke Nakamura all feel slightly off in some ways. Every full body wrestler as you see them in ring is built on a similar base that would make adding folks like Nia Jax awkward and means that the Usos are near impossible to tell apart in your team but distinct as fraternal twins can be in their portraits. However, none of this breaks the experience entirely.
The gameplay here is incredibly straightforward and that simplicity is its saving grace: you tap to hit your opponents, those opponents drop Cash for leveling, Main Events (every ten matches) bring you more Cash and sometimes a WWE Superstar you can unlock. You can add superstars to your team in ring and take on bigger and bigger opponents. Sometimes a gold briefcase will show up to give you, well, money in the bank. If you’ve ever play Cookie Clicker, it’s the exact some concept but with WWE branding and a few interesting perks like team synergies, perks that boost stats, and classifications that award specials like High-Flyer and Technician. One of the biggest things about this game is that, very quickly, I don’t feel like I need to tend it, somewhere many mobile games end up falling short. Even if I haven’t opened the app in over 8 hours, I haven’t felt like had to in order to collect the things I want. There’s even a perk to allow you to earn more idle Cash. The only times I may feel the need to open often are during special events but they happen frequently enough and currently don’t see to gate content, so not participating or only idly participating feels perfectly fine.
As this is a mobile game, it would be strange to not mention the microtransactions in this. It’s a system I don’t see terribly often and one I don’t think many games could pull off. There’s the usual real money currency (Gold Bars) that allow you to pick up new cards that unlock wrestlers or give boosts. These range from $1.99 for 180 Gold Bars in the Stack of Gold to $99.99 for 15,000 Gold Bars in Ric Flair’s Estate. Duplicates of cards unlock more perks for your wrestlers. You can also flat out buy fully unlocked cards for $24.99. However, all of this can be unlocked over time and by completing events, objectives, and achievements. You can even watch ads to hurry things along a little and boost money earned while away, unlock more cards, or swap out wrestlers. It reminds me a lot of how Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm especially handle microtransactions and earned rewards. At no point so far have I felt terribly compelled to actually spend money on it unless I want to and it’s refreshing.
Sega and The Tap Lab’s WWE TapMania is currently available on iOS and Android as a free download. Pick this up if you like having something idle to do during commercial breaks of weekly wrestling shows.