The wrestling portion of the video game market has been dominated by WWE (formerly WWF) for years now, fighting off their biggest rivals WCW in the process. There was another who tried to dethrone the leading brand in the late 2000s though, when Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) took their popularity to the next level with the release of a wrestling game. Ten years after the release of TNA Impact!, it’s time to look back at whether it was a success. Did TNA Impact! whip up a storm in the world of gaming like a hurricane coming through to leave a lasting legacy, or was it more of a failed attempt at cashing in on the rapidly growing promotion?
It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed, or that TNA was once a booming business that could deliver a game to consoles. But that’s exactly what happened after partnering with Midway Games to develop TNA Impact! for a UK release on 12th September, 2008 hitting Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, before arriving slightly later for those playing on the Wii. With the gamers of TNA helping to shape the end product, chances of success were high.
Unfortunately, it didn’t have enough substance to the gameplay to have any real longevity, but there were a few aspects of TNA Impact! that I still remember fondly to this day. Those mainly centre around the Story mode and the ingenuity of Suicide, the main character who falls from grace after a backstage beatdown for not doing as he’s told and throwing the big title fight. You could then bring him back under a new guise and begin the journey to regain the top spot in the company, fighting around the world in Mexico, England and other locations depicting the independent scene, before returning to the Impact Zone in Florida.
The dramatic narrative wasn’t the only thing that made it stand out though, with the real life introduction of the Suicide character being a very cool crossover concept. After Frankie Kazarian portrayed the character initially, it was Christopher Daniels who took on the mantle next and won the X Division Championship to create a real buzz. A handful of other wrestlers have become Suicide sporadically since then and to this day, there seems to be no sign of them pulling the trigger and killing him off.
Speaking of the X Division, the inclusion of the Ultimate X match in TNA Impact!, which is used to contest the division’s championship belt, was something completely fresh. With two cables suspended across the ring and a big X hanging in the middle to try and grab, it was a lot of fun to participate in. The rest of the matches were just your usual single types, tag team affairs, fatal four ways and such, with nothing else too special or interesting to speak of.
There certainly couldn’t be any complaints about the roster as most of the names either were huge stars back then or have since made their way to the WWE. Most of the models looked darn good for its time too. Players had the choice of AJ Styles, Sting, Samoa Joe, Robert Roode, Kurt Angle, Christian Cage and many, many more. Trying out all of the exciting finishing moves was enjoyable, but to build up the Impact! meter in order to perform them saw a lot of move repetition and that’s where the boredom kicked in. See, the fun just didn’t last long enough, the move sets were quite limited and you’d be left doing your best impression of John Cena (who’s known for only having five moves) every match.
What didn’t help matters either was the ridiculous A.I., especially in the Story mode, with almost unbeatable opponents at times. You’d have to beat them to a pulp and give them a load of finishing moves to have any chance of keeping them down for the count of three. That’s if they didn’t reverse the attacks repeatedly.
TNA Impact! wasn’t a bad game, nor was it a good one, but history will tell you it’s the only TNA game to hit the console market to date and it was fun in short bursts. They tried to re-release it as TNA Impact!: Cross the Line in 2010 on the handheld scene with new names like Hulk Hogan and Mick Foley included, however it didn’t fare too well. As for TNA the company, well, they’ve been to hell and back, rebranding themselves as Impact Wrestling in 2017 to start afresh. They’re steadily growing in popularity again, but I wouldn’t expect them to delve into the video game world for another foray just yet.
What did you make of TNA Impact! back in the day? Would you like to see more competition to the current WWE 2K series from some other wrestling games? Could it be from the folks over at Ring of Honor? Do let us know by reaching out on social media or even in the comments below.