Legends of WrestleMania is a retro game in more ways than one. Most obviously, it's a wrestling game that diverts from the shiny new SmackDown path and instead wallows in cheesy nostalgia, offering a line up of WWE's biggest stars from the 1980s onwards in one big ol' rumble. Less obviously, it's a game that abandons the increasingly complex and impenetrable SmackDown gameplay in favour of button-mashing and simple combos, a modern day riff on the old Royal Rumble cartridge games of yesteryear.
In some ways it's a refreshing and long overdue change in perspective. SmackDown has become an increasingly bloated and stagnant affair, catering to a core group of fans who no longer seem to care if the actual gameplay is evolving in any meaningful way. By harking back to a less cynical time, Legends of WrestleMania brings back the fun. The wrestlers are fun, with icons like Hulk Hogan and camp horrors like the tassel-covered Ultimate Warrior making a welcome return to gaming, and the gameplay is fun.
Well, maybe fun is the wrong word. It's accessible. And by accessible, I mean incredibly easy. The finger-mangling grapple system that has taken root in SmackDown like a tenacious vine has been ruthlessly hacked away. What you're left with is the sort of control layout that could fit on a SNES pad. One button is for melee attacks, one for grapples, one for blocks and reversals, and one for pins, turnbuckle and rope moves. The move can be modified by the environmental context, triggering different attacks on the ropes than you'd get in the middle of the ring, and also by the directional stick and the length of the time the button is pressed. Hold it down and you pull off a stronger attack.