As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Kinect’s release, I find that I have become something of a Kinect apologist. Any time anyone bashes it or says it’s a piece of shit, I tend to leap to its defense and say that it’s actually a solid item. And I mean it. Over the past year I have had a lot of good times with that thing. Ok more accurately about a year ago at this time and then in the past couple of weeks I’ve had a lot of good times with it. There was a good long while there where just nothing was happening with that thing.
Lately things have been picking up however since in recent weeks we’ve seen Rise of Nightmares, The Gunstringer, Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports Season 2. But we’re not here to talk about those ones right now. No we’re going to talk about one whose sheer existence may make you do a double take.
That’s right brother, it’s time for Hulk Hogan’s Main Event!
Hulk Hogan continues his quest to pay the bills with the release of this wrestling themed mini-game collection for the Kinect. I know simply reading the title alone will ensure that you go into this game with zero expectations, and that’s a good thing because none is exactly the right amount of expectation to have here. I do think there is some merit to the idea of a mini-game collection based on the various elements of wrestling, but this is not the title that should represent that concept.
Once you have fired the game up and created your wrestler (which in my case meant immediately selecting a random character generator, saving him, collecting my achievement and moving on) you are ready to begin. There are a few options such as Career mode, Quick Play and Exhibition but so many things are locked right from the get-go that you almost have no choice but to select the Career Mode. This mode tells the tale of your created wrestler and his rise through the ranks of a made up wrestling league. It is the most base level story possible and shows no effort in any form. I mean I know I shouldn’t be looking for Hulk Hogan’s Main Event to weave any sort of majestic tale, but this is really the most unengaging plot they could have ever conceived. You’re making a god damn Hulk Hogan Kinect game, why not shoot for the fences and do something completely insane?! Alas, you might as well skip every single story sequence that pops up because it’s absolutely not worth even the little amount of time it would take up.
Each match is separated out into a series of mini-games that take you from your wrestler’s entrance until the final pin. There are games for hitting your opponent with a chair and with a ladder, one focusing on grappling, a primary one on one game that has you trading blows with your opponent, and so on. When your career first begins you’ll only be doing three sequences per match – the entrance, trading blows, and the pin. By the end, each match contains just about all of the mini-games that there are. Everything feels a little like a slog in the beginning so just imagine what it is like by the end.
I can say that for the most part, the Kinect functionality in Hulk Hogan’s Main Event does seem to work and the device captures your movements accurately a lot of the time. The problem with this is that the game really isn’t asking you to do that much at any point. You see for any main game, no matter the primary goal, a little Hulk Hogan appears in the bottom right corner and tells you exactly what you need to do. Many games consist of standing still until Hogan tells you to duck or raise your arms up in the air. Only a handful of games at best require you to be in a state of constant motion. This naturally leads to a very boring experience overall.
Let me start by highlighting what I feel is the biggest offender – the wrestler entrance. At first you just stand there and watch your wrestler walk towards the ring, until you are asked to strike a pose for the crowd. Then you continue to watch until you are asked to do this again. Rinse and repeat. For the first few matches it only happens a few times but eventually they introduce a new mechanic where you have to dodge items being thrown from the crowd. Hogan again tells you exactly what to do to dodge them so there is no challenge to be had. Eventually an entrance consists of about 7 minutes of posing and dodging items. It goes on for fucking ever and is not even the slightest bit engaging at any point. If you have been waiting for a game where you stand there and do nothing until a cartoon wrestler tells you to make a very slight movement, then your time has finally come.
There are a lot of games featured here that fall victim to the same idea of performing the same monotonous task for far too long. The ladder mini game has you standing there until you need to block, after which you can smash your opponent in the face with the ladder, which I do have to admit is pretty satisfying at first. There’s another game where you have thrown your opponent into the ropes and need to attack him as he bounces back. Needless to say, you stand there until Hogan tells you exactly what to do (i.e. Stretch out your arm or foot), you perform that move, and then you do it a dozen more times before the mini game finally decides to end. I won’t go through each game one at a time but I think I’ve made my point. Many of the games feature nothing but standing and performing a move every now and then.
The flipside are the games that require you to be doing movements continuously, such as dodging, punching and kicking. At first I had some fun with these as landing a successful punch is met with a very satisfying smacking sound that at first led me to believe that I may just be in for a decent time after all. It didn’t long for it to dawn on me that these types of mini-games would be bad in their own right. This is where the Kinect starts to venture towards being completely unresponsive. Many times I would throw a punch and my character would dodge, or most often just continue to stand there. Performing calculated punches didn’t work, and mindless flailing didn’t help either. So what is one to do? It’s frustrating and actually makes me long for the games where I just stand around as at least those games have far less room for error since I’m technically not doing anything.
For a game with Hulk Hogan in the actual title, the man himself does not have much of a presence here. He voices a few motivational quotes that are played throughout the match, but that’s it. He doesn’t do his voice overs in the story sequences, there’s no unlockable content featuring videos of him, nothing like that. The rest is just unintentionally funny quotes attributed to him during the load screens, and his goofy smile wearing cartoon avatar that you see in the actual matches.
While I can’t give Hulk Hogan’s Main Event credit for being my absolute worst Kinect experience (an honour that still rightfully belongs to Deca Sports Freedom), it’s likely in the bottom 5. When it works right it’s boring, and when it doesn’t it’s frustrating beyond belief. The whole thing is over quite quickly and if you like yourself some achievements then rest assured you’ll get plenty of those real quick. I had several hundred in the first half hour of play. Gamefly it if you need to but under no circumstances should you exchange money for this product.
Now take your vitamins!