As a kid I grew up watching wrestling. The World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE) had a Saturday morning show that was the equivalent of a live action cartoon and like many kids I sat down to watch it every week. Everything was black and white, with the forces of good, led by Hulk Hogan, taking on the evil villain of the week. Hogan was at that point the biggest name in professional wrestling, but wrestling has changed a lot since that time and oddly, despite his best efforts, The Hulkster has largely remained the same. This simple fact is the foundation that Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is built on.
Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is a Kinect game that puts the player into the boots of an up and coming backyard wrestler as he sets out to become the biggest name in professional wrestling, all under the tutelage of Hogan himself. Before stepping into the ring though, one will have to create their wrestling avatar.
The game has a decent set of options for character creation and customization; however, problems arise when attempting to utilize the Kinect to fine tune your creation. I found it easy enough to make a simple character but setting him up the way I actually wanted was more of a challenge as selecting individual menu options that are clumped closely together is not one of Kinect’s strong points. However, the most frustrating part of the character creation ordeal was going through all the trouble of setting him up and completely missing the option to edit his name, leaving him with the awkward title of Caliente.
User error aside, I took Caliente to the ring to get the real game underway. I was somewhat surprised to find that the game is actually a mini-game collection masquerading as a wrestling game. You won’t find yourself “wrestling” an entire match in Hulk Hogan’s Main Event, but rather participating in key moments in a match. These key moments are considered stunts by the game and players will start out by posing in various positions as their avatar walks to the ring.
Every match starts out this same way with the game throwing more and more poses to be performed at the player as well as the task of having to avoid flying obstacles from disgruntled fans. Performing an entrance to the ring makes quite a bit of sense being as so much time is spent on it in actual wrestling, the rest of the stunts however are a hodgepodge of wrestling related actions that don’t really blend well with the pacing of an actual wrestling match. Taken out of the context of the career mode and done individually, which can be done, these events can be somewhat fun but having a stunt where you body slam your opponent upwards of 10 times in a row as you progress through a match makes little sense.
Compounding issues is the Kinect functionality itself. I have played quite a few games on the Kinect and there are those that work really well (Dance Central, Kinect Sports) and those that do not (Sonic Free Riders, Motion Sports), sadly Hulk Hogan’s Main Event falls in the latter pool. Motion recognition was all over the place. Sometimes it worked flawlessly but oftentimes it would interpret motions incorrectly making the game somewhat frustrating for me and near impossible for my kids to play.
One of the things Kinect has done really well is bridge the gap between players such as myself and a more casual crowd, like my wife and kids. Unfortunately, Hulk Hogan’s Main Event drops the ball. Many of the stunts require specific movements at very specific times and the game is unforgiving for failing to do these things exactly the right way. Worse yet, failing to successfully complete a stunt results in a failure screen that gives one the option of retrying or quitting and it does this even in multiplayer. When you watch a player fail a stunt for the fourth time in a row, the game starts to get boring for the watcher and one can only guess how frustrated the actual players is.
Surprisingly, the most frustrating aspect of the whole game is not the weird design choice of making a mini-game collection out of a wrestling match or even the shoddy motion detection. No, the most frustrating aspect of the game is that it bears the Hulk Hogan name on it, yet lacks the Hulk Hogan personality. The Hulkster only has a handful of actual vocal lines, you never actually wrestle against him nor do you have him wrestle with you. Simply put, his involvement in the actual game is superfluous.
Not everything is all doom and gloom though; Hulk Hogan’s Main Event does provide a fairly decent workout for those that give it a go as I found myself sweating up a storm just as the Kinect told me I should take a rest. It also has a fun art style that reminded me of my WWF action figures as a kid. But in the grand scheme of things, it is hard to recommend Hulk Hogan’s Main Event to anyone as it does far more wrong than it does right.
2* out of 5