A short time ago, we had the opportunity to take a private tour of Mega Cat Studios office in Pittsburgh and interview the team behind Wrestle Quest about their upcoming game and some of their side projects. The interview focused primarily on wrestling, video games, working with Skybound, side projects, and how Wrestle Quest has changed over the years and what players should expect.
If you want to see the meeting in full, click the link here. Remember, Wrestle Quest releases on August 8th on Xbox, PlayStation, PC (Steam), and Nintendo Switch. Below are just some of the questions asked during the meeting:
Mega Cat Wrestle Quest Interview
Introductions and Studio Founding
Matt- Can you introduce yourself?
Zach- Hi I’m Zach Manko, the Head of Studio for Mega Cat.
Matt- Okay, so how did Mega Cat originally become formed?
Zach- So there’s a bunch of us that really like wrestling, really like video games, and we just combined our favorite things to wrestlefy all games.
Matt- When was Mega Cat Studio actually formed?
Zach- Um, it feels like the beginning of time, you know the uh, the fountains of yore.
Matt- Because I remember I think, PAX 2019, you guys were showing off uh, like retro but modern games, whatever it called.
Zach- We’ve always had the designing too…So first of all you know definitely retro roots run deep, has always been taking what’s great about retro games and mirroring them with you know sort of modern trends and modern genres.
James – Well the established date on the wall since 2017.
Matt- So you can’t see that on there.
Zach- I mean that way no one else can contribute.
Matt- That’s what I said. So uh, what’s the Studio’s current focus? Obviously, Wrestle Quest is coming out next month on August 8th.
James – You know it’s funny, um we are currently pending approval from one of our first party partners that we added on and haven’t announced yet, but Sky Bible will be announcing details there in the next couple weeks. But as far as our Studios current focus, it’s more wrestling based, Cat infused games I’d say is our top priority, but we did just launch Renfield into early access.
Zach’s actually been the chief fanger and banger in that game.
Zach- It’s true.
Matt- Fanger banger?
Zach- Family, lots of garlic. Yeah
Wrestle Quest Inspiration & Set Backs
Matt- So what originally inspired Wrestle Quest?
Zach – Wrestle Quest is first and foremost a wrestling fan and RPG fan’s dream project. Um, we always wanted to do JRPG, it’s you know, one of our favorite genres, and the thing is that there’s so much about them that’s been so many times before. Like I grew up with the turn-based combat, and I love it, but after just a while it gets so stale and there are other things, other tropes that you encounter all the time you know, like secret princesses and it’s always this sort of like pseudo fantasy setting and it just has been done so many times, you’re like how can we, how can we make it better, not just change it but you know and make it different, make it better and the answer is wrestlefying it.
Combining it with pro-wrestling because all that spectacle and that drama that’s that kind of underpins the storytelling of wrestling that’s also found in JRPGs so there’s a lot of shared DNA that once you realize that, you know just everything kind of clicked where we could not only wrestlefy the setting but wrestlefy the combat to make it more engaging. So Wrestle Quest is the world’s first heavyweight pro wrestling JRPG.
Matt- Now what were some of the difficulties with creating the game? Obviously, there are always technical difficulties.
James – Should we talk about the wardrobe issues?
Zach – The Wardrobe issues?
James – Well yeah, we had to Wrestlefy everybody. Yeah, it’s a top-down holistic thing.
Zach- Yeah so it’s, I mean just number one is like the scale of the game since it’s really this love letter to the wrestling that we grew up with in this kind of golden era of wrestling. The game is massive there’s you know over 40 hours of story content alone, let alone all the side content so just creating that and managing that in itself was this, you know this huge lift. Beyond that, you may know that wrestling is a very litigious industry so we’ve been doing our triple due diligence to make sure that we’re crossing everything correctly.
James – I would say more than triple at this point too.
Matt- You can’t get a belt buckle wrong.
James – It’s like a legal battle royale
James – Only one Cat stands at the end. But you know it’s pretty great from a fan perspective though to go through some of this because we’ve got the chance to meet and spend time with so many wrestling legends. You know the reason, Zach started Mega Cat? it was because he wanted to become a wrestler; that is the fastest way in.
Matt- Yeah, that’s why he’s always in the ring.
James – Once you know, you get a taste of the ring. After the last PAX(2023), we were really concerned at the AEW event that he was just gonna like rush in. I kept saying Zach it’s going to cause legal issues.
Matt- Jump the barricade and beat up the wrestler
James – It’s one of the reasons we got the seats a little further away from the ring to keep Zach safe because he’s already had a taste.
Zach- Right. You know that’s not enough.
Any Setbacks? How much content is there?
Matt- Now, so we’re talking about the legal battles and whatnot. Was there ever a point where you guys were like we need to shelf this, come back, create ideas?
James – Um, we didn’t have any ideas during the game I’d say. You sort of shut our eyes and it happened
Matt- Those energy drink-fueled nights when your just programming and lose touch with reality.
James – I’ve never had an energy drink, nor have I programmed. For me, it’s really just method acting. Yeah, it’s like throughout the development of Wrestle Quest, the entire team has changed, the company’s changed. Like it’s, you know, we just grew in so many other directions and we have such a standard in our heads of what we want in our dream project, we kind of pushed every reasonable, logically driven decision away to make it a reality right like against any possible advertisement from any other place.
We just listened to fans and wrestlers to kind of guide the scope and the details, and the way the game plays and I think one of the things that’s made Wrestle Quest really special is that we’ve been able to kind of swim in so much feedback from so many deeply engaged fans for so long. You know as the building would say, “we just kind of tighten the bolts”.
James – You know, well you can’t see on camera right now is he has two ratchets in his hand.
Matt- So how many wrestlers are in the game?
Zach – Basically, at this point between 20 and 30?
James – Licensed wrestlers, or the 400-plus wrestlers that we created.
Zach- Oh that’s true.
Zach- So there is a huge cast. For starters, the playable characters alone there are 12 playable characters and then there are you know multiple managers that you can get to join your party and provide a lot of passive effects and things like that. So we’ve created you know stables promotions of wrestlers. But as far as licensed wrestlers I think…
James -There are over 30 licensed wrestlers just separating statutes from. Can’t spoil this for you guys, there are a lot of different nooks and crannies where the wrestlers live. Over 30, only one with a head.
Who did you want in the game but weren’t able to?
Matt- Alright, I know we talked about this briefly, but uh were there any wrestlers who wanted in the game, that you couldn’t?
James – Ultimo Dragon. (Jokingly) Not Brett the Hitman Hart, we never wanted him. I’m actually a huge Goldberg fan, well mostly because of the impact in his career.
Zach- My mind just shut off right now.
James – Okay, we entered into the team that unified it.
Zach – Oh my gosh
Matt- Shawn Michaels?
James – You know I would say that the most Shawn Michael’s employee at Mega Cat would be Nick.
James – He has a lot of star energy.
James – Lots of sexy boy going on. Yeah you know and we for a while though we were kind of working on a new time clock that would play entrance music when someone logged in and we just realized it was highly inefficient. Yeah, the lighting and the pyros breaking budgets, and we already went so far over on our chair budget in development, at this point we gotta just finish the game.
Matt- You got lost
Zach – Who I wish I could put in? I wish we could put Jeff Jarrett in two or three more times.
James – Same
Zach – Um, I think Jeff Jarrett Quest might be in the roadmap in the future.
James – The JQ
Zach- Yeah yeah, double J quest.
Matt- In the future, so talking like future DLC, or just
Zach- I just think he deserves his own game
James – Yeah
Matt- Jarret Lifestyle
James – They’re true Jrpg
Zach- That’s it, the Double JRPG. Bro.
Matt- Almost lost his head. Because he started before WCW and then a little bit in WWE and then.
James – Dude, third-generation promoter, who’s been wrestling since he was in his teens.
Matt- yeah, I didn’t know about that.
James – He’s a story career man. He’s a powerful man, with a lot of wrestling knowledge, and you know we joke a lot about Jeff, we love him, but really Jeff is more of a wrestling fan than any wrestler I’ve ever met. Like he just lives and breathes it because he loves it.
Matt- More than Tony Khan?
James -You know what, I’m going to say that Jeff Jarrett has three times the spice and six times the southern spice energy that Tony Khan could ever contribute.
Matt – That I can probably agree with.
Have you put any team wrestling personas, like you know how there was like the Road Warriors? You had the Hart Foundation at one point but…
Zach – Yeah so I mean obviously pointing out there’s it’s not just the memorable individual wrestlers, but you know, just memorable factions or tag teams and whatnot, and that’s a major point, a plot point for the one character, his name is Brink Logan, and his cousin Stag Logan, are the honest bucks and they start out as this you know, tag team kind of jobbers right, but then as they make their way up through the ranks into a different promotion, their sort of bond is tested because one of them is this hard-working diligent underdog type champion.
The other one is just more interested in coasting by and kind of hanging out, so tensions start to rise, and I don’t want to give anything away of a plot, but yeah, that kind of uh the nature of those, and how they play out you know and wrestling case something that’s on her mind all the time and it also makes sense.
James – I have a question, Zach, I have a question, which of our team members is a lazy wrestler based on?
Zach- I prefer not to say
James – It’s me. Right to me. But Yeah it’s been so much fun to watch Zach bringing some of these characters to life because like the origin of a lot of these character designs was just taking all the things we love most as kids about these different wrestlers and different eras and feds and organizations and then like distilling them into fantasy factions or fantasy concepts. I remember that one day Zach had sent me a Slack message and said, what about a bird-based wrestling stable? It’s a long story history of avian-inspired characters, and I said tell me more, and he’s like oh you know we have Hawk, Raven, and Freebird. My mind went fireworks you know.
Someone’s got to make this game. Got my attack bat ready.
Matt – Um, so when you say Raven, are you talking about ECW Raven?
James – Yeah
How Tag Teams Work
Matt- Ok, just making sure I’m on the right page there. So I know you said that tag team wrestling is in the game, is there any like ability to just like customize the team’s moves, I know you had said there is a move set. A big part of wrestling is finding your own style and signature moves.
Zach – So that’s one thing we wanted to address really. Part of updating / Wrestlefying this JRPG combat. A lot of times, JPRGs are mechanically straightforward. So we have a lot of player agency, not only how you structure your party but also how you generate hype. In the game, there’s this hype meter that appears whenever you battle and is an indication of how entertained the crowd is. To generate hype, you need to keep the crowd interested by mixing up your moves. You can’t just go in there and spam the same move.
You can come in and form your own strategy. If you have three very powerful characters, you can have them all be a powerhouse type and do powerhouse moves. Or if you are the kind of player that likes to do submission moves and debuffs, there’s a hype pack for that. So it all comes back to your overall general strategy for hype. That determines what characters you select, what hype values you get for each move, and the player’s urgency to think about their strategies and formulate them.
Andy – As far as the team mechanics, with 12 playable characters and over 400+ characters in the game, all those combinations of 2+ characters have their own tag team moves that they can do. So that’s a factor in your decisions too. One person can have a healing move, so you might say, I want to have that person around.
James- Why didn’t you create a heeler class when you designed the game?
Andy – When I designed the game? I created the whole game myself?
James – Andy actually changed his gimmick this year.
Zach – He was the Spooner Pruner. People liked it when he sang.
Andy – I was until I did my big heel turn. Now I am the Nashvillain now.
James – That is so evil bro.
Easter Eggs and Pop Culture References
Matt – So obviously there are a ton of pop culture references within the game. Can you tell me more about the Easter Eggs within?
James – I didn’t participate in any of that. Wrestling is real life. And in Wrestle Quest, wrestling is everything. One of the things that makes Wrestle Quest so unique and fun is that in this universe there are so many things to look at and see. In fact, there are probably more Easter Eggs than there are non-Easter Eggs to see. It’s a combination of fan requests, team member requests, and even wrestlers’ requests. It just came to life that way. You can’t play the game without running into them. You can’t play it without running into a dozen of them; in fact, the amount probably exceeds the charts; like a new record.
All that comes together even with the lines of text. At one point, we had over 200,000 lines of text before Skybound came in and recommend we cut out a good amount of it. Which is actually better for the game. We love the game so much that we continued to abuse our own scope but it is now definitely a more streamlined version of the game but there is still content for days. We’d love for there to be DLC so we can include even more.
Matt – So now is it all wrestling-related Easter Eggs?
James – So there is a good bit of easter eggs. As I said, wrestling is life. So there are so many inspired by video game culture, JRPGs, it all intersects. So when looking through the Wrestle Quest filter it’s just a bunch of nostalgia. Get the nostalgia of being introduced to wrestling as a kid and our first JRPG and what we loved about them. One of the things that Zach wanted early on was whether it is your first JRPG or 50th, we wanted it to be Successful. That’s one of the reasons why we waited years before making a JRPG, we wanted to make it live up to something that met our expectations.
Working with Skybound
Matt – Now working with Skybound, were they more open to allowing you to use some of their intellectual properties in the game?
James – We have one Easter Egg but the amount of paperwork and side quests, we weren’t able to go as deep as we wanted but got it done. Skybound did help by lifting us up. Sometimes they did push us down when we were out of control. But what do you get when you have super fans making a dream project? How do you corral this guy? We just loved it so much that we needed the discipline and talent that Skybound had to offer. Did we need any more wrestlers? Nah, we needed a tag team partner.
Matt – So obviously you are talking about wrestlers in the game. Did you put your own personalities into the game?
Zach – So there are definitely characters and situations inspired by real-life Mega Cats employees.
James – Is this where we spoil our DLC?
Zach – We can’t.
Matt – So Skybound was not originally part of the project, when did that happen?
James- Zach called them around 2020 and they ended up saying no to another game about a questionable boxer with a notable past. So after we were denied by the 4th and 5th publishers, we insisted that wrestling and JRPGs should exist together and there’s a market for it. We brought it back to Skybound and found a wrestling fan who was able to carry it all the way to the executive level and make sure they saw it. Then we showed them the characters and the pyrotechnics that Andy had created. And they said, these dudes are going to do something special, let’s give these guys a shot. He did a great job.
Matt – Now I am curious who said no.
James – Everyone that saw it said no. I have to say, I was surprised. We were looking for such a small production budget after how much we invested because we believed in the product so much. It is such a big genre to compete in. Part of it was just the respect for JRPGs was consistent. There aren’t many new wrestling games. So that unexplored territory, probably gave a lot of publishers pause. So once we found some intro champions that loved wrestling, we knew that it would work out.
There was actually a point where I was mailing Mega Cat Championship belts to publishers’ offices just to guarantee a response because they were ignoring us. Which wouldn’t normally happen but I thought, why are they so against wrestling? As we got more thoughtful replies from some of them, we learned that it was more just divergent from their genre expertise. So if you look at all the different game publishers, you aren’t going to find many wrestling games.
James – There are not many JRPGs either. So that kind of led us to talk to more and we know Skybound kind of has this massive IP expertise. Skybound has been such a key partner and with their strategy, it seems to be working out.
Matt – I know we were talking before about it, working with Skybound has it been a symbiotic relationship?
James – Skybound is the strongest company in the world.
If you want to find out more about Wrestle Quest including Mega Cats’ time working with Jeff Jarrett, Skybound, in-game content, and more you will have to watch the rest of the hour-long interview:
WrestleQuest is launching on August 8th across Windows PC (via Steam), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and both iOS and Android.