AEW: Fight Forever | Review | Switch - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, August 10, 2023

AEW: Fight Forever | Review | Switch

Ever since it was announced, AEW: Fight Forever has been on the radar for many wrestling fans across the globe. The game promised to hearken back to an era of wrestling games that the genre has strayed away from over the years. Simply put, expectations were high and the game had a lot to live up to. Fight Forever is finally here, but is this something wrestling gamers need? Is this just for casual AEW fans? Should this just remain on the shelves, forgotten? We’re here to talk about all of that and more in this in depth review. Let’s take a look. 

Controls are a bit complex but come as second nature once you’re used to them. High strikes are performed with Y, kicks with X, you can run with B, strike guard with R, grapple guard with L, taunts with the right stick, you can change opponent targets with the push of the left stick and initiate grapples with B. Just as with classic AKI games in the past, a weak/strong grapple system has been implemented in Fight Forever. A tap of B initiates a weak grapple, while a long press does a strong one. Once in a grapple, you can do a variety of moves by pressing the face buttons and a direction. 
Special moves are also often tied to the grapple system as well. For many of the wrestlers, once you build up enough of your meter on the bottom of the screen, the flick of the right stick will give you the ability to perform a special move. Reversals and blocks are also possible with the press of R and/or L. Of course, this is all based on timing. This aspect of the controls can be challenging, but fun. Being able to correctly gauge your opponent’s attacks or grapples is key, especially when playing on higher difficulty levels. Simply put, the base controls feel great, the action is fast paced and there is a lot of nuance to the gameplay.

There are over 50 playable wrestlers in Fight Forever. Fan favorites like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Adam Cole, Anna Jay, John Moxley, Jack Perry, Chris Jericho, Darby Allin, Brit Baker, and others are all here. Legends like Sting, Owen Hart, and Paul Wight are also playable. There really are a lot of wrestlers to choose from. Even with that said, some of the attire or choices are not quite in line with the roster for the past six months to a year in some cases. I started watching AEW shortly after I tried out the game at Tokyo Game Show in September 2022, and I find myself disappointed that certain wrestlers aren’t included. I would have loved to see The Gunns, The Acclaimed, Swerve Strickland, Kip Sabian (maybe I’m the only one there) and others join the roster. Given the lengthy development time for the game, I do kind of understand the possible reasons as to why these wrestlers aren’t included as of right now. The world of AEW doesn’t sleep, and stars rise and fall for various reasons on a weekly basis. The season pass will add more wrestlers over time, which is okay. It will be interesting to see how the roster and game in general evolves over time.

Match Types & Modes
After you boot up the game, you’ll see all of the modes and match types that are available in the game. Across the top, you’ll see Exhibition, Online, Custom, Road to Elite, Challenges and Shop - we’ll get in to these later. As for match types, the following are on offer in Fight Forever:
  • 1 on 1
  • 2 on 2
  • 3 Way Match
  • 4 Way Match
  • Casino Battle Royale
  • Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match
  • Ladder Match
  • Minigames
  • Training
I think most of these are pretty self explanatory (even more so if you’ve been watching AEW for awhile), but I’d like to get into a few of these. The Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match is just as crazy as it sounds. In this, you play in a one-on-one match against your opponent with the ropes replaced with explosive barbed wire. If you throw your opponent into the wire, they’ll get quite a shock. After a set amount of time has elapsed, the whole thing explodes dealing out damage to everyone in the ring. It’s crazy and actually pretty fun. 
Ladder matches can be a bit tricky when it comes to implementation in games. However, what’s on offer in Fight Forever is quite fun. Just in case you’re not familiar, these match types put players against each other with a simple goal - the first one to scale the ladder and grab a belt or item hanging over the middle of the ring, wins. The ladder can be used as a melee weapon and can also be jumped off of in high risk / high reward situations. Climbing the ladder is pretty simple. To initiate the climb, you simply press ZL, press ZR once at the top and then follow the button prompts on the screen to reach the the prize. If you can do this before you opponent knocks you off, you win. I thought this match type was well done. Some games from the past required players to mash buttons to make their their way up, which, quite frankly, was just not too fun. This is a bit more stress free and pretty enjoyable.

Minigames are also a part of the package in Fight Forever. These usually have no relation to action in the squared circle whatsoever. Instead, these are optional side games that can be ran through relatively quickly. It looks like they would be fun with to play with other people, however, playing against the CPU is just okay. Controls are often simplified and things feel a bit shallow. Also, it’s not available as of the time of this review, but Stadium Stampede, a battle royale mode, is coming to the game in the near future. It will definitely be interesting to see what comes to the game down the line. If this is the only game you’re going to buy this year and are a huge AEW fan, this might seem cool. For those who just want to focus on wrestling, this mode is worth trying, but it likely won’t be something you go back to very often.
Fight Forever offers a handful of customization options. Of course, the coolest thing here is the ability to create your own wrestler. There are quite a few options here to create the wrestler of your dreams. Ring attire, casual attire, moves, and meticulous ring entrances are just some of the things you can tinker with here. It’s pretty robust. 
There are some limitations with wrestler creation and in editing the existing roster. Some items can’t be mixed with others. Seemingly simple things, like changing outfits for existing wrestlers is almost impossible. You are able to make some slight changes, like giving them different shirts, but it’s not as extensive as you might expect, which is disappointing. There are some other odd problems with the game when you’re customizing things, especially with the CAW. Going through long lists is extremely tedious, as things will move through at a glacial pace. Not only that, but the game will sometimes slow down trying to catch up with everything. 

Road to Elite
Road to Elite is essentially the story mode of Fight Forever. In the mode, you choose any wrestler you like (real or created) and go through a calendar year of AEW. You’ll compete in Pay-Per-Views as well as weekly shows like Dynamite, Rampage and more. Not only this, but Fight Forever does an admirable job at trying to give players a feel of what life is like “on the road” for wrestlers. Once you arrive in a town, you have four “Turns” to do various activities. You can work out, visit famous locations, eat local cuisine and go to press events. Most of the time, these will net you health points or in game currency. The currency can be used to upgrade your created wrestlers, purchase items (ring attire, moves, unlockable characters, etc.) and more. Health also plays a role in RtE. If you go into a match (or workout) at less than your best, the chances of getting injured increase. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t feel too fleshed out. For me, being a pretty meticulous, risk averse gamer, I always err on the side of caution, and in this case, make sure that I’m usually 80% or better before I step into the ring. if your character gets hurt, there are simple enough ways to get them patched up, but it’s more of an annoyance than anything. 
Road to Elite contains various video clips featuring key moments in the promotion’s young history. For someone like me who is relatively new to AEW, it’s cool to see these to get a better understanding of how things went down over the years. Still, going through the mode multiple times will bring up the same events occasionally depending on which “path” you go down. 
You’re encouraged to play through the mode multiple times for a couple of reasons. First, this mode is the best way to be able to boost up your created wrestlers. Second, it’s great way to earn some in game currency that can be used to pick up a variety of moves and clothing for your creations. Lastly, depending on how you win or decisions that are made along the way, matches, feuds and more will come about differently. 
On paper, while there is quite a bit on offer, I still found Road to Elite to be a bit lacking. Road to Elite is cool, but it’s kind of formulaic. While something like this might have been groundbreaking back in the day, it just isn’t so much with Fight Forever. Is the mode still fun? I think so, but your mileage will definitely vary.

Unfortunately, I was not able to get connected to any online matches in my time just yet. It’s probably my region matching, but things would just hang there. If you’re wanting to play the game online, you might have better luck on other hardware. 
One interesting thing I wanted to bring up was the online nature of Fight Forever. An online connection is not required, however, upon booting up the game, you will be automatically connected to the Fight Forever online server. It’s usually not a big deal, but if you’re in a place with a spotty internet connection, you may run into some issues. I experienced the game just freezing up mid-match, or having a system level prompt telling me to connect. This likely won’t be much of an issue for most, but for a game that has prided itself on NOT needing the internet to enjoy, I found this strange. I think a simple solution would be to just have the online turned off upon booting up the game and then being something to turn on later. Again, this is an issue that likely won’t impact many people, but I felt it was worth mentioning. 

Daily, weekly and general challenges are a way to keep gamers coming back to Fight Forever. These are usually simple enough, such as winning a match with certain wrestlers or playing a set amount of matches. I honestly kind of forgot about these while playing Road to Elite, but I suppose this could be somewhat compelling for some fans. 

Visuals, Audio & Performance
By now, you’ve likely seen screenshots and videos of Fight Forever. The game features somewhat cartoon-like versions of you favorite brawlers from AEW. While the style might not be to everyone’s liking, I think it serves the game well in the fact that the game can look almost the same across the board, regardless of platform. With the Switch version, things are scaled back and a bit “fuzzy” looking, especially in cutscenes. On a positive note, the game runs at a relatively consistent frame rate despite the lacking visuals. 
Fight Forever suffers from several graphical issues. Frame skipping, random ropes bouncing, and even weird things, like wrestlers appearing on top of thin air or through the ring itself happen. While the latter (odd placement of wrestlers) was a very rare occurrence during my time with the game, this should not be overlooked and hopefully more patches will come out to clear these things up. 

AEW: Fight Forever definitely has some performance issues. Nevertheless, I still found myself having quite a bit of fun with it. Things like the animations just skipping completely were visually jarring for me, but they rarely (if ever) felt like they were working against me when it came to gameplay. If you’re an AEW fan, you will definitely have some fun with this one. If you’re a fan of old AKI N64 titles or other arcade-like wrestling games from back in the day, you might find yourself a little bit disappointed. There is a lot to like here, but some people will likely get frustrated or bored. 

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