Hulk Hogan's Main Event
In 2011, Microsoft was still banking on the Kinect peripheral being a big selling point for the Xbox 360. We all know how that worked out but in 2011, Microsoft still had high hopes for it. I have to say, I owned an Eye Toy for the PS2 and a Kinect for the Xbox 360. I also have a Switch that utilizes motion controls for some games and I even own an Occulus Quest VR headset but when it comes to playing games, 9 times out of 10, playing a standard game with a controller is the way to go. VR and motion control games seem like an awesome experience and they can be but the controls usually end up not as precise as you'd like and the games suffer a little because of it. That being said, let's see how this first-ever motion-controlled wrestling video game plays out.
Hulk Hogan's Main Event was developed by Panic Button (which is a name that doesn't instill much confidence in me) and published by Majesco Entertainment. Majesco I have more confidence in simply because they're the publishers behind the Cooking Mama series and those games have always been guilty pleasure games for me. I love me some Cooking Mama. For those who may be unaware, the Kinect was a peripheral packaged with the Xbox 360 console itself that allowed you to play motion-controlled games. Having a wrestling game that features motion controls sounds like a pretty cool idea but having THIS wrestling game with motion controls is a whole other story.
Let's just start by how hard it is to scroll through the menus. I'm sure it's partially due to bad game design and partially due to the Kinect itself kinda sucking (in my experiences with it, anyway) but it's really hard to even scroll through any of the options menus. The Kinect keeps losing track of you or you flinch your arm the wrong way while hovering on an option and it takes you back a step. It gets pretty annoying quickly. If you can navigate the menus, there are a fair amount of options for your create-a-wrestler but it's best to just randomize a character, pick a name and hometown, and move on.
The career mode of this game is based on the idea that you're a struggling pro wrestler and your friend, manager, agent... hell, I don't know because it's never made clear who they are but they tell you about Hulk Hogan's big contest where the winner gets a big time wrestling contract. Obviously, this inspires you, and your off to take on all comers and become Hogan's protege. This cutscene and all cutscenes in the game are presented in "comic book style". This is usually a nice way of saying the developers were cheap and lazy and didn't want to add any animation or voiceover work to the game and I'd say that's the case here. It's not presented like this for the sake of style; it's presented like this as a cop-out. It's also safe to say the graphics are atrocious. Yeah, that's a good way to describe them - absolutely atrocious.
The character models and everything in the game looks so damn ugly. Even Hulk Hogan actually looks horrifying at times and the way he pops up all of a sudden in some of the cutscenes; it's almost like a "Five Nights At Freddy's" jump scare. Like, damn, Hulk, you almost made me shit my pants there. As soon as you start playing a match, you realize that the "matches" are not really matches at all. It's all broken down into a bunch of motion-based minigames. The first level of career mode is a backyard wrestling stage because no generic wrestling game from the late 90s up until the early 2010s was complete without a backyard wrestling stage, am I right?
Anyway, the first minigame is making your entrance. Hogan tells you... well, he doesn't really tell you anything because, as I said, there are no voiceovers in this game and none of the cutscenes are animated so let me rephrase - Text floating around what can only be described as a terrifying caricature of Hulk Hogan informs you that you have to do the proper poses when prompted, while your character walks to the ring. If you do these correctly then you get points or money or whatever.
When the match starts, you can flail away at your opponent until you stun them. This brings up what I call the "slam minigame". Now, you have to reach out and grab your opponent, lift them over your head, and then perform the slam that you're prompted to do. This is really hit and miss because it doesn't detect your movement very well and if you perform the wrong slam then you're docked points or money or again, however they're scoring this fiasco of a wrestling game. If you perform enough correct slams then you move on to the "pin minigame" and you can do Hogan's big leg drop or a few other moves and get the pin. Pretty simple, pretty boring, and pretty ugly, all around.
All in all, I have to say, I never want to play this game again. It's actually a chore to play this one. It's not worth the energy you have to use in order to make the half-assed motion controls work. I will say that I won't blame Hogan for signing on the get the endorsement. I can only imagine the pitch must've been like, "Mr. Hogan, we want to give you this sum of money and we're going to put your name, a few of your signature poses, and a shitty likeness of you into our generic wrestling game. You don't have to record lines or do motion capture or anything else. All you have to do is sign right here". I'd be willing to bet that Hogan's response was a quick, "That works for me, brother!".
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!