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The WWE has always looked warily at the past. They might celebrate wrestling's history now that they own almost every scrap of worthwhile wrestling footage ever shot in America, but they'll still ignore certain wrestlers or events that don't fit the story they're trying to tell, and still act like anything that takes place in a non-WWE ring simply doesn't happen. So it's surprising that the WWE of today would release a nostalgic remake of the 1991 arcade smash WWF WrestleFest. It's not surprising, however, that the new game owes almost nothing beyond the name to the original.
The basic framework is similar: You pick among eight WWE Superstars and wrestle through the ranks on the way to various championships. Unlike the arcade days, you're not restricted to tag teams, as the single-player Road to WrestleMania mode sees you fight for all five current major titles in secession. The initial roster features both legends and current stars, including John Cena, The Rock, and "Macho Man" Randy Savage, and future in-app purchases will make more available. There's also a Royal Rumble mode where you have to survive the infamous over-the-top rope gauntlet.
The features are nicely varied, but are undermined by one significant detail -- the touchscreen controls are terrible. You'll struggle with the tightly limited range of the virtual joystick while brainlessly pounding on the two action buttons. There's none of the counter-heavy strategy found in the best console wrestling games, and thus none of the pitch and flow of a real match. The presentation also lacks personality, with the same generic music for every wrestler and bland character models that lack the cartoonish vitality of those from the original game.
The bottom line. Even if you don't tap out to WWE WrestleFest's frustrating controls, this barebones, personality-free wrestling game will bore you more than Randy Orton.
iPad running iOS 5.0 or later
Solid roster of popular stars from the past and present, with a handful of their most recognizable moves.
Bad music and a lifeless art style ruin the atmosphere. Awkward touchscreen controls make WrestleFest HD truly frustrating.