When it comes to wrestling-themed mobile games, it’s forgivable to believe your only options are one of WWE’s five different mobile games. Unfortunately, if those are the only wrestling mobile games you’re aware of, you’re really missing out. Some could say that The Muscle Hustle is the best kept secret in wrestling games, but it's time for that secret to come out.
Not only are we going to look at what makes The Muscle Hustle special in the current mobile game landscape, but RealSport had the opportunity to speak to with The Muscle Hustle’s producer David Simard about how the game came to be, tips for new players, and what the future holds.
What is The Muscle Hustle?
The Muscle Hustle (also known as TMH) is a wrestling-themed slingshot physics mobile game that takes inspiration from billiards, curling, and the industry we all know and love. However, what makes The Muscle Hustle truly special is that it’s highlighted by completely original characters. While WWE’s mobile offerings rely on recreations of their real-life superstars, TMH had to start from scratch and make characters we’ve never seen or heard of feel compelling. We spoke to Simard about the game’s inspiration, as well as the challenges and benefits of their original characters.
RealSport: “What was the inspiration behind The Muscle Hustle?”
David Simard: “There's a whole genre of games, mostly from Japan, which have some of the same basic slingshot gameplay mechanics. The biggest (and I think first) of those is called Monster Strike. We really liked those games, and were wrestling fans, so the idea that they'd fit well together just somehow seemed obvious. Wrestling lead us to some fresh gameplay ideas in for the genre too. Most of the other games have enemies fixed in place, like pinball bumpers, and put a lot of focus on ranged attacks. Fireballs, lasers and such. None of those things felt right for wrestling, so we started experimenting with close range grappling, throws, jumps off the turnbuckle, [and] stuff like that. We tugged on that thread for a while with prototypes, and a whole bunch of fresh and interesting gameplay spilled out.”
RS: “Was it daunting to create all of the characters and aspects from scratch?”
DS: “Definitely. We're a small team and that was a ton of content to put together in a way that works. That said, we had a blast to doing it, so I'm not complaining!”
RS: “What was the process like for creating the character concepts?”
DS: “We didn't really have a single unified process. We've been working on this for a long time so it came out in different ways at different times. On some occasions we had an idea of a gameplay hole we wanted to fill and designed a character to fit that. At other times, we started with reference images of a certain type of character that came up in a brainstorming session (like a roller-derby pro, for example), or other times somebody wrote a great backstory and we built up the look and the design of the character from there.”
RS: “Were there any current or former professional wrestlers that inspired your character designs?”
DS: “Not directly, but I'm sure themes bouncing around in our heads come out in similar ways sometimes. There are also some underlying archetypes that are bound to look similar to something in the the real-life wrestling world since it's just so big. For instance we have a character called Drake Dark who's this sort of occult, satan worshipper type guy. Sometimes people look at him and call him a Taker ripoff. Of course, I can see where they're coming from in retrospect, but that's really not how we got there.”
RS: “How do you think having original characters sets you apart from other wrestling mobile games?”
DS: “The nice thing is that it allows us make all sorts of different characters, to the point that anybody who plays can find something they like, or identify with. We're also more free to experiment with moves that might be a little too off the wall for real-world wrestling game.”