The wrestling hard impact action saves it from mediocrity.
I realized how crazy Nintendo's wrestling has gone into. It starts back as early as WCW/NWO Revenge which you get to customized the looks and WWF Wrestlemania 2000 with unique moves to pull off and WWF No Mercy despite its bugs allows you to also make female fighters. Once AKI left, the first two game, Wrestlemania 18 and 19 has mixed results with the new developer Yukes. Day of Reckoning and its sequel resolves this by adding body image depth and stamina. As a shock, out of all the console versions, Smackdown vs Raw 2008 fails with its gameplay and its value. While Smackdown vs Raw 2009 makes up with its tag team aspect, TNA Impact while rightfully nails the gameplay, the rest feels like second class citizens due to its lack of wrestling customization (and women I might add) and imagination.
The gameplay on the Wii controls can be complex but in reality, it manages to be easy enough to memorise because of how straight forward the punching and kicking is. Grappling isn't hard but it sometimes mistake it for irish whip which drives you crazy. Well the saving grace on the Wii controls is you can also play it on a classic controller although have they also extend it to the gamecube controller, it would've have kept its middleground between rookies and professionals. Had games like Super Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart Wii follows the formula or including all control schemes, it could save you from thinking that not every game wants you to be a motion crazy expert.
The graphics on TNA is good but not great. In all Nintendo wrestling games on the Gamecube (if you're following the Australian version) I have not seen one game been enhance to PAL60 other than the Smackdown vs Raw 2008 which finally enhances quality up to progressive. There's nothing wrong with the graphics but I wish this game can enhance its quality so it can enhance the sharpness and cuts down on flickers.
The sound is mixed. You'll hear the usual wrestling music which is not bad and staying true to the wrestlers theme and the sound effects sounds quite close to Hollywood if you can call that. The only downside is instead of the background music which is the constant theme through the Nintendo Wrestling games on N64 with AKI and GC with Yukes, by Smackdown vs Raw 2008 and this game, you have audio commentaries. Well the best audio commentary I heard from my experience is Fight Night Round 2 which is the classic boxing game which nearly hits all the right notes. This audio commentary doesn't sound live as it ought to be because by now there;s should been enough distinction between watching a documentary and a live game performance. I also wish this game has Dolby Pro Logic 2 support.
There's nothing special about the value but the multiplayer should be enough. The single player on the first part is plagued by regular jobber wrestlers but its needed to allow you to familiarise yourself with the game and I also mentioned that you can't customize your wrestler which goes back to the days in WCW/NWO World Tour in which you can't make your own wrestler but enjoy the gameplay more than you like. If anything, the saving grace which may sound silly is you get to watch the video tutorials and its credits to see how the whole thing works.
So there are ups and downs in Nintendo's history that you have to contend with. TNA Impact's gameplay helps sets a new standard of wrestling with a weaker emphasis on submission, the controls may not be perfect but it helps to have the classic controller to help beginners familiarise with the game. The graphics could've gone higher in standards with the power of the Wii but is on par with the PS2 due to the strip out feature of customization and really needs more background instead of audio commentary to make it more live. Still despite its faults, this game will stand as one of the best wrestling games thanks to its pace and speed. Just throw in the women in an all male wrestling world and you'll get the picture. So if you are stuck between a poor version of Smackdown vs RAW 2008 and the upcoming Smackdown vs RAW 2009 with its tag team emphasis, this game will be enough to keep you busy with its unique gameplay and enjoy the first game involving a six sided ring instead of four. Just don't blow your date with Marisa Tomei or you'll get punch like George on Seinfeld in "The Cadillac".