A motion capture game featuring Hulk Hogan from the same publisher that gave us the video game adaptation of Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Majesco Entertainment) doesn’t really drum up too much expectation. Expecting a game with those ingredients to be an instant classic would be like expecting a recent Hulk Hogan match to be a classic. However, Hulk Hogan’s Main Event fails to meet even the lowest expectations.
Main Event has the standard features that we have come to expect from wrestling video games; a season/career mode that takes a single character from the bottom rung to the top of the ladder, a create-a-player mode and a one-on-one exhibition mode that pits player against the computer or another player. In the career mode the default character Caliente begins in a back yard wrestling event hosted by Hulk Hogan, with the winner receiving a shot at the big time. This seemingly daunting task requires you to win one match against Atlanta’s own Jim Bob, then you’re off to the “big time” with Hogan as your corner man.
Hogan being your corner man is the bulk of his involvement in the entire gaming experience. This is not only a storyline device, it is also a key component of the game play. Each match is divided into a series of segments known as stunts. In each stunt the goal is to beat the opponent by performing the motions that the Hulkster demonstrates in a small insert box that appears at the bottom right of the screen to pull off predetermined moves. (Yes, there is a leg drop. But the big boot is sadly missing.) These stunts devolve into a boring game of Simon Says with an aging wrestling icon. About 70 percent of the motions work about 70 percent of the time, but everything else is a crap shoot. There is one positive, and that is that in some stunts you do not need to be a carbon copy of digital Hulk and you are allowed to throw hands the way that you see fit. These stunts, however, are too few and too far between.
Graphically, Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is on the lower end the spectrum of what is acceptable for a game on the Kinect platform. The atmospheres are bright and reasonably well rendered, but the character definition is dreadful. Most characters are just pigment swaps of one another with the occasional wacky accessories thrown in for good measure. If a character is black, he is literally black (see Tombstone) and most every character has a look more akin to the bruisers of the 1950s. If not for this game’s complete lack of attention to wrestling, Lou Thesz would have been a perfect addition.
Every aspect of this game is lacking. Even the game’s menus are difficult to navigate. But it is not the randomly responding controls, the lackluster graphics or the repetitive mimicking that is passed off as game play that makes any wrestling fan tap out on Hulk Hogan’s Main Event. What is truly this game’s downfall is a complete disregard for the basic structure of professional wrestling. The matches have to stop and load between stunts, moves occur at inappropriate times and a headbutt does the same amount of damage as a massive Samoan drop (which the commentator calls a suplex). The pinning combination literally takes ten seconds. I will repeat, it takes ten seconds to count to three. The best way to describe this game is “lame.” It is a lame attempt by a video game company to capitalize on what is left of the name of Hulk Hogan by employing strategies like sprinkling in bro speak and Internet lingo to appear to be cutting edge. This game has X-Pac-like heat. At its finest, wrestling is about storytelling and emotion. Hulk Hogan’s Main Event offers none of the first and even less of the other.
Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is available for Xbox 360. Rated T. www.hulkhogansmainevent.com.
Review by Matt Hankins
Wrestling with Pop Culture is giving away a copy of Hulk Hogan’s Main Event. Just comment below with the name of any character Hogan has played in a movie or TV show. We’ll randomly pick from the correct answers and announce the winner on the WPC Facebook page on Jan. 27.