Sumo Master Hands-On

While sumo wrestling will probably never gain wide popularity in the West, let’s be honest: watching enormous men push and slap each other is grand entertainment. Developer Wrinkly Pea Design must agree, because they’re about to release Sumo Master, a game based on the ancient Japanese sport. We got our hands on a near-final build of the game and stripped down to XXL cloth thongs to try it out.

At the start of the Sumo Master, you choose from one of four voluminous fighters, each with separate stats for weight, speed, and skills. The fighters do handle quite differently, so a lot rides on your choice. Some are sluggish but can push opponents around with ease, while others are much more nimble and capable of quick escapes.

The in-game view is a top-down vantage point of a rectangular ring. You face off against up to five other wrestlers, each of whom is in it for himself. That means that the computer-controlled opponents will fight each other too, which comes in handy. To move, you just tap the direction you want your wrestler to go. The gameplay consists of pushing your opponents around, trying to force them from the ring before they can do the same to you.

Round cushions, or bumpers, sit at the edges of the stage. Bouncing off of them provides a power boost that you can use to your advantage to force opponents where you want them to go. The cushions in some stages actually move around the ring, giving the player an extra strategic consideration when trying to stay in bounds.

You can also get a power boost by double-tapping your wrestler. This makes your character flash green for several seconds and gives you an amount of power similar to bouncing off a cushion. You can use this ability only once per match.

The drum-heavy music and hand-drawn graphics feel authentically Japanese (although, admittedly, we’re no experts). There’s also a Bluetooth multiplayer mode, so you can battle your buddies locally. The developer plans to submit the game to the App Store this week, so look for it soon.

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