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AEW: Fight Forever Review for Nintendo Switch

Human history has long been defined by combat: as civilizations thrived and grew, it was natural that disagreements, greed, and the stresses and strain of limited land and material would drive people to battle. In the modern day, war is something that is avoided at all costs, and for good reason. However, some people hunger for battle, and there are plenty of avenues for them to fulfill their destiny. Martial arts competitions, boxing, and wrestling certainly get the blood pumping, literally in some instances, but there’s nothing crazier than All Elite Wrestling: with dramatic backstories, team-ups, and character arcs for their wrestlers, as well as nearly unrestrained and unlimited brutality permitted, the sport has garnered quite a lot of fans. And with the success of other combat sports games, why wouldn’t the AEW want to try and land a hit in the market?

Unfortunately, that blow is a nearly complete whiff. While there are good bones to the game, it is bogged down by unclear instructions, oversimplification, and a general lack of polish. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to rewind to the first round and give you the blow-by-blow. AEW: Fight Forever is a third-person brawler that puts you in control of the fighters in the ring. Developed by Yuke’s Co., the developers behind the WWE games until their replacement in 2018, the game seems to have been in good hands. Boasting a lineup of pulse-pounding music, some seemingly original, a diverse roster of real fighters, and an immersive character creator built to customize not only your appearance, but your moves, combos, abilities, taunts, entrances, victory celebrations, and even the effects that play when you’re called in by the announcers. The game currently features 3 arenas to fight in, likely with more on the way considering the recent (and quick) announcement of future DLC.

That said, this is where the criticisms begin. The game throws an early left-hook into your immersion and enjoyment with just how slow everything feels. Maneuvering through menus feels like a chore, and load times are longer than feel reasonable for the game. Like most players, my first instinct was to rush into the character creator and build my own abomination of a fighter. However, the process was restrictive and unintuitive, and I wasted 30 minutes of work only to seemingly save my fighter and realize that none of what I had made was usable. The cosmetics on offer are somewhat diverse, but there are glaring flaws in the system. Why can’t you change the color of an article of clothing BEFORE you put it on your fighter? How do you equip any of the full-body clothes when it requires you to remove ALL of your other clothes, something that you (reasonably) can’t do? All of this compounds with the delay of your every input and action, and you REALLY begin to notice it after just a short while.

AEW: Fight Forever Review for Nintendo Switch

It was a frustrating, uphill battle, but I finally managed to make my own character. I couldn’t even begin to try to understand the different moves that I could choose, so default attacks it was. That’s not a complaint against the amount of options available, just the overwhelming way that they are presented. Regardless, Luigi Mario takes the stage and is ready for a scuffle. Yes, I did my best to recreate the iconic Nintendo brother, and seeing him in action was the best part of the game for me. I’m not necessarily certain that was their intention, however. After picking between the three nearly-identical arenas, which all share the theme of an enclosed square with an audience watching nearby, Luigi was ready to Brawl fight. He didn’t receive that warm of a welcome, as the announcer’s two cookie-cutter “title” lines felt phoned in, especially considering the professional energy and excitement given for his opponent. Regardless, the match began.

The combat in AEW: Fight Forever is relatively simple to explain. You have two different buttons to attack, presumably being a light and heavy attack respectively, and a button to grab your opponent. You also have two different defensive options, allowing you to block an attack or break out of a grab if you press the buttons with correct timing. Lastly, you can duck outside of the ropes by pressing another button and re-enter the arena with the same button. …that’s it. Immediately that should explain how dry the combat felt. There are so few options, which is hidden by the diversity in each fighter’s moveset. Every professional wrestler has a unique set of moves, but even then there aren’t that many to use. Exiting the arena allows you to grab weapons conveniently set out for your fighters, just like in the real matches. However, from my experience, it seemed to serve functionally no purpose otherwise. You get disqualified within three seconds of exiting the arena if you can’t re-enter in time, and you can’t use your weapons too much or you get disqualified for outside interference. 

The match was going back and forth, with both fighters desperately scrambling for a knockout… which was when I started to wonder where my health bar was. Slowly but surely, I realized that there was no health system in the game, at least not one the player is shown. The game serves like a slap-boxing match, as both fighters trade blows to try and fill up their special meter and unleash a match-winning special attack. Of course, this isn’t the only way that you can win a match: at any point in time, you might find your opponent knocked down to the mat. This is your opportunity to pin them, and if they can’t escape in the count of three, you win. If you’re the one pinned, you’re given an opportunity to mash buttons to escape your opponent’s grasp… which seemingly does and doesn’t work at random. Both systems of achieving victory leave something to be desired and feel both unintuitive and unrewarding. But hey, at least you get to beat up your unconscious opponent for ten seconds after winning.

These blows against the quality of the game aren’t the only thing wrestling its quality down, such as its annoying music and how the computer’s complete understanding of the game’s flawed fighting system gives it every advantage. However, that’s all a bit too subjective for me to bash it for. And, besides, how can I say that the game is completely terrible when I had fun? It’s true: while the game has many problems, playing against my friend and watching Luigi pummel and be pummeled by professional wrestlers was entertaining in its own right. I think, at the end of the day, that’s where I got the real enjoyment out of the game: playing as goofy characters and beating each other up in brutal fashion with glee. Neither of us fully understood what was going on, and I think that just added to the magic of it. Is the game perfect? No, not by a long shot. But if you have a friend or a group of friends that you want to kick back, design some crazy characters with and beat the stuffing out of, then this might be the game for you. With all of that said, here’s my last bit of advice: mute the music. You’ll thank me later.

Only good if not taken seriously.

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Related: Reviews by Aaron Grossmann

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Gaming is a passion that I, like many other people, hold near and dear to my heart. As an aspiring Game Writer and general Storyteller, I enjoy looking into the vast worlds and deep stories of every game I can. Then again, sometimes bad guys just need a good pummeling, and I am more than happy to provide!