Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 05.11.2019

Review for Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling on PC

Ladies and gentlemen! Tonight is a very special night for wrestling fans the world over. Chikara, the ultimate wrestling promotion, has arrived on home computers everywhere. Thrill in the arcade-styled action, as your favourite wrestlers battle for fame and glory. Los Ice Creams, Cajun Crawdad, Mr. Blank, and so many more hit the ring in a spectacular flurry of bone-crunching mayhem. Pummel the opposition with lightning-quick strikes, or earth-shattering slams. From bats to broadswords, you can batter your rivals with a bevy of foreign objects. When the going gets tough, gain the advantage with a power-up. Do you have what it takes to beat the competition, and take home the gold? Find out in Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling.

There's no better time than right now to be a fan of pro-wrestling. Dozens of promotions, all filled with amazing talent, are vying for your attention. AEW, NJPW, DDT, AAA, and the list goes on and on into infinity. Regrettably, fans of pro-wrestling video games don't have nearly as many choices. There's the WWE 2K series, which has its ups and downs, and Fire Pro Wrestling World is fantastic, but its steep learning curve can make it a little tough to get into. Variety is the spice of life, and it couldn't hurt to have more titles on the market. Eugene Tchoukhrov and Dave Horn, the tag team behind VICO Game Studio, have just released their own spin on the genre, and it's called Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling.

Based in Philadelphia, Chikara's penchant for colourful characters and quality ringwork has earned the promotion a dedicated following. It took almost two decades, but they finally got their own wrestling game. It's different… but in a good way. It shares a resemblance to arcade classics like Saturday Night Slam-Masters and WWF Wrestlefest. The controls are designed for exquisite simplicity. Basically, you don't have to memorize cumbersome combinations. On a stock Xbox 360 pad, the X button strikes, and the A button grabs. Under the right circumstances, combining the two buttons allows wrestlers to climb turnbuckles, lock in submission holds, or perform running attacks. Winning grapples depends entirely on whoever's faster at button-mashing. This approachable control scheme allows for anyone to jump in and play.

Screenshot for Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling on PC

Mastering the combat system is mostly just a matter of knowing when to go for strikes or grabs. If, for example, you see your opponent rear back, then that means they're going for a huge slam. Immediately punishing their attempt with a jab is all it takes. Heavy strikes have good range and damage, but are easy to block. Also, take advantage of every move available. Wrestlers who perform the same suplexes or throws become more susceptible to reversals. Each successfully-executed technique results in points, which will unlock rewards such as new taunts, championship belt customizations, and wrestlers. In short, you'll want to put on a good show.

How do you tell the difference between a beginner and a pro? It's all in their understanding of the power-up system. Occasionally, power-ups will appear in the ring, which boost parameters or add other powerful effects. You're going to want to grab hold of these, but don't let your opponent grab hold of you. Wrestlers can get the power-ups slammed out of them, creating an opportunity for somebody else to scoop them up. Be on the lookout for "call spots," as well. Following simple directions like "perform a submission hold" will result in health replenishment and other benefits. Try and balance out your ruthless aggression with a tinge of tactics. Whoever lands the most spots will become a force to be reckoned with. Having a stored power-up can also be a lifesaver. By pressing the Y button during a pin-attempt, you'll sacrifice your power-up to immediately kick out.

Screenshot for Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling on PC

Although the fighting action isn't as refined as in some other wrestling titles, it's clear that the developer had its heart in the right place. There are a wide variety of moves to perform, including comically absurd techniques like spinning piledrivers and fireballs. The Y button also serves as a "switch-target" button in multi-wrestler bouts. Thankfully, it's possible to hit multiple rivals at once. Due to the way the targeting system works, wrestlers will soar across the screen to land flying elbows and planchas. It looks outright hilarious at first, but it beats attempting to judge the max distance one can leap, in order to ensure that their air assault connects. Of course, high-risk manoeuvres can still miss, provided the opponent gets out of the way. This just helps to keep the pacing fun and exciting.

Alongside standard 1v1 bouts is an array of tornado-style tag modes, three-way or four-way dances, and even a 10-figher battle royale. Though their peculiar attire may suggest otherwise, the heroes and villains of Chikara don't often participate in gimmick matches. In short, don't expect to fight in cages or exploding rings. Tables and chairs can be used as weapons, but there isn't a single ladder to be found. Currently, there isn't a traditional tag-team mode. Tornado fights are good chaotic fun, but some might appreciate the strategic nature of tagging their partner in. This game receives frequent updates, so hopefully standard tag is in the cards.

Alongside a large selection of Chikara favourites is a potentially infinite roster of created wrestlers. By downloading the Chikara: AAW Wrestle Factory application, you'll be able to design your very own wrestler from scratch, and then decide on what moves they'll perform. Furthermore, rings can be customized, to give your federation a more personalized touch. It'll take some time to understand how the CAW features work, but the level of depth is very impressive. You're able create anything, whether it's a WWE Superstar or a #2 pencil. Naturally, all of these creations can be shared online.

Screenshot for Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling on PC

Besides exhibition matches, Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling doesn't have much in the way of single-player content. Some sort of story or career mode would've been nice, but perhaps that's a little too ambitious for a two-person project. Needless to say, if you have the imagination for it, you should invent your own storylines. The aforementioned championship belts are available for setting up the all-important title bouts. Amateur bookers can also take a "hands-off" approach, by letting the AI handle the wrestling. If you've got the know-how, you could even put together your own "King of Trios" tournament. Just be sure to use Windows Notepad or an Excel spreadsheet to track the necessary details. All that said; this receives frequent updates, so there could be an arcade-styled "tower" mode down the line.

In its current state, the enemy AI isn't anything to write home about. They'll perform the basics necessary to win matches, but any reasonably-skilled player will quickly take them out. Setting the difficulty to hard alleviates the issue somewhat. This feature is one that's still in the testing process, so it may take a while to perfect. In the meantime, it's highly recommended that you fight your buddies in local multiplayer. Up to ten players can choose to participate in online matches. Bear in mind that you'll have to use the Steam community features to send invites or join parties, so try and make a few friends in the forums.

Screenshot for Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Though it still has a ways to go, Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling is a worthwhile pick-up for wrestling fans. Matches are raucously entertaining, and there's enough variety to keep fans occupied for hours upon hours. The CAW feature is brilliantly implemented. Once you get the hang of it, the potential is boundless. Some issues, particularly the AI, still need to be sorted out, but the developer is really keen on delivering consistent updates and fixes.


VICO Game Studio


Reverb Triple XP





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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