“Andrew, your game’s arrived.”
That was my mother’s call early on Saturday morning that our postman had been, delivering on an order I made last Sunday afternoon. I rushed to grab the packaging, tearing away at the weird plastic that sort of looks like an inside out binbag, to reveal the cover. Not the cover, THE cover.
I was able to contain my somewhat childlike excitement for about an hour before I plugged the PlayStation 3 in, fired up the disc and waited for it to install. TNA iMPACT was back, baby!
How did I get to this position where I found myself enraptured by a video game that I had not thought much about for more than a decade? A game that I myself had never previously owned but had only sampled at the houses of friends in my early teenage years.
It started last week when I watched Lockdown 2005, which only partially sated my appetite for my old school TNA fix. The absence of the WrestleMania weekend show made that appetite grow stronger, while the AXS TV special didn’t look as though it’d pass muster. I fired up the GAME store, found a good deal from a supplier that would definitely deliver and I slapped that purchase button.
I needed something to sink my teeth into that would get me to the heart of the old promotion with the current one grinding to a halt amid the Corona chaos. I put the feelers out, both in my weekly column and the Twitter machine, for recommendations for a ‘retro review’ style watch through project. All of the suggestions I got were good, ranging from single shows to individual matches and watching every single match in the promotion’s history to involve Christopher Daniels AND AJ Styles. Just the 84 of them, that is.
With fresh TV content for Impact rapidly running out, I need some recommendations for TNA watch through projects.
All (polite) suggestions welcome! https://t.co/8a1Z1KlRnj
— Andrew (@AMSinclair97) April 1, 2020
While I had initially planned to write this week about watching the Chris Candido memorial tournament, the game sucked up my attention for too long for me to even start watching those old matches back.
I’m not a massive gamer by any means, which is rather ironic given that I work in communications for a worldwide computer simulation game. I always played sports games on my console, shooters with my friends and the odd RPG to pass the time. By no stretch of the imagination was I good at any of them, or was I particularly interested in the finer details or the way they were programmed. I loaded the discs, smashed a few buttons, had some enjoyment and logged off.
This game had that usual buzz of feeling cool when you loaded it up the first time. The video package that felt like the opening to an old PPV had me feeling all sorts of ways and the dulcet tones of Jeremy Borash when you start an exhibition match took me to the happy place that forms of escapism always should. The Impact Zone felt alive and authentic. Mike Tenay and Don West, albeit with only limited lines programmed in, were a refreshing background tonic.
Inevitably, the only place I could start was by playing out Alex Shelley vs Chris Sabin. Given that my most recent exposure to wrestling games were the 2K ones, my grasp of the controls was somewhat limited. I didn’t know how to do a lot of things and I found myself looking in the instruction manual, something I don’t normally do with anything. I’m the sort of guy who backs his intuition, assumes he knows what he’s doing and only realizes he’s gone wrong at the end when it doesn’t work. Anyway, I lost, although you’d probably worked that out for yourselves.
I won the rematch, but then I lost a tag team match between LAX and Beer Money. I lost an Ultimate X match between Daniels and Shark Boy before winning the rematch. Losing four times in a row as Samoa Joe to Scott Steiner seemed to only crystallize my limited abilities and Steiner’s maths.
After that 50 minute sojourn, in which I felt that my calling in life had been reduced to that of a simple jobber, I started the story mode. By this point, something had clicked. I’d worked out how to hit finishers, I was beating guys with more regularity and I was achieving something. I felt a peculiar sense of achievement when I unlocked a clothesline for my moveset and Jay Lethal as a playable character.
By the time I fired the game up later in the day for a second try, I was hitting Border Tosses and Olympic Slams with aplomb. I felt, virtually anyway, undefeatable.