NJPW Combines Storytelling with In-Ring Psychology in New Mobile Game, “King of Sports”

New Japan Pro Wrestling King of Sports

Move over WWE Champions and WWE Supercard, there is a new mobile game in town, King of Sports, and it comes to us from New Japan Pro Wrestling.

If you’ve always wondered what it’s like to train as a young lion in a Japanese dojo or main event at WrestleKingdom in the Tokyo Dome or wrestle Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, all while putting on the same kind of matches that NJPW is known for, King of Sports may very well be the perfect game for you.

A release introducing the beta mode, which took place last week, described the game as such:

“Take part in stunning battles between your favourite NJPW wrestlers, including Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, and Hiroshi Tanahashi! Or edit wrestlers’ moves and costumes to bring a personal touch to the ring! Use the signature moves of NJPW stars ripped straight from the ring to your phone to clinch victory in singles or tag team action!”

Much like WWE’s mobile games, this one is free to download from both the Google Play and iTunes app stores, but from initial reactions to the beta and a quick run through of the tutorial and initial gameplay, that is where the comparisons end. Rather, King of Sports, is more like the WWE 2K games, in which you create and customize your own wrestler and follow his journey as he navigates the NJPW scene.

Coach Kotetsu Yamamoto takes you through the tutorial in which you are asked to choose your name and pick one of four wrestling types: strong, submission, power and strike.

The strong type is “a well-balanced style. All the moves are performable, and power of each moves does not decrease.” The submission type “is expert of submission holds. Power of submission moves will increase. This type is weak in strike attacks and power of those moves will decrease.” The strike type is “good at striking techniques. Power of the striking moves will increase. This type is weak in submission holds, and power of those moves decrease.” And finally there is the power type, which is “good at throwing techniques. Power of the throwing moves will increase. This type is weak in submission hols, and power of those moves will decrease.”

You’ll then choose between five body types: junior heavyweight, heavyweight, super heavyweight, macho and sumo.

Once you have chosen your preferences, Yamamoto will take you through some more tutorial information as well as have you spin the roulette to acquire your first move. Then you’ll be off to the arena where you can choose between three match types: Vs. NJPW, in which you’ll take on an NJPW veteran who will “teach you lessons through matches,” a regular fight, in which your goal is to wrestle a fellow young lion and make money, and finally a daily fight. At the beginning of the game, only the regular fight option is made available (you can access the rest after completing the tutorial). The game is also equipped for tag team matches, although that is also something that is not available at the start.

The tutorial introduces you to the actual game play. Like WWE Champions, where certain classes have advantages over others, such as acrobats over showboats and showboats over strikers, there is a move hierarchy in this game as well. Red moves overpower green, green moves overpower blue and completing the triangle, blue moves overpower red. It then becomes a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors almost as your objective is to try to guess what move your opponent will make and counter with an attribute of stronger value or of the color/type advantage.

And while your goal is to win the match, you get more points based on the quality as well as uniqueness of the contest. For example, if you repeat the same moves too often you won’t get as high of a score. Part of your objective is also to allow your opponent to hit all of their moves on you as that too, enhances your score. Your moveset also enhances with the more frequency you win matches with certain moves. A comeback victory is another way to get more points in a match.

There are a lot of nuances to this game which liken it more to the 2K games than any of the mobile games WWE has put out. There are controls to kick out of submissions or break up pinfalls, each player gets one reversal per match, which functions somewhat like the resiliency bar in the 2K games, and finally, variation rewards points which is also the case in the WWE console games. However, like other mobile games the draw is that it’s free but additional upgrades and items are available at an additional cost.

In addition to your own journey through the NJPW ranks, there is a “New Japan Road” mode in which you can currently play against NJPW wrestlers from two cards: Power Struggle 2017 and Wrestle Kingdom 12. There is also an online mode, where you’ll fight other users also playing the game. As you advance in ranks, so too will the quality of your opponent.

King of Sports provides a unique mobile experience and will certainly be an alternative for people looking to move away from WWE’s offerings into a more combat and strategy based gameplay. You’ll play to keep your wrestler healthy, search for achievements, strengthen your moveset and maybe ultimately, win the biggest prize of them all.

If you are looking for WWE 2K but with Japanese wrestlers and ability to play on your phone, King of Sports is a great gaming option.