Back when “WWF” didn’t stand for World Wildlife Federation, when Andre the Giant first left his feet via a Hulk Hogan suplex, and when Randy “Macho Man” Savage was the luckiest man alive because of Elizabeth, I was wrestling’s biggest fan. I watched Hogan battle the Iron Sheik, I attended local wrestling matches on Saturday nights, and I even caught the WWF (now WWE) when it came to town and had the good fortune to be left with a throbbing hand after the Ultimate Warrior high-fived me on his sprint to the ring. At one point, I even wanted to be a professional wrestler. All of this is to say that Hulk Hogan’s Main Event, an Xbox Kinect-exclusive game, was perfect for me to review.
The core of Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is the Career mode, in which you learn the tricks of the trade — from in-ring moves to pre-match poses and hype — by following on-screen prompts from the Hulkster himself. Positioning your arms or legs a certain way makes your character perform all manner of WWE moves, from leg drops and clotheslines all the way to such heel-like things as swinging a ladder over your head. Following the prompts is the best way to whittle away at your foe’s energy, although you can occasionally succeed by ad-libbing your own moves. It’s pretty fun to ad-lib, actually, especially for those who have ever aspired to have 22-inch pythons, but doing so won’t net you the maximum number points in the match, and in some cases it’ll cause you to fail outright.
The Quick Play mode in Hulk Hogan’s Main Event has you doing the same things, but rather than doing them in a comprehensive match, you do them in standalone tutorial-like sessions focused on specific moves. For instance, there is an Aerial Assault mode, a Beat Down mode, a Body Slam mode, a Ladder Bash … basically anything you’re trained to do in the Career Mode and tutorial is here as a standalone exercise. It’s kind of silly, really, and it serves no real purpose, but it’s there if you want to perfect one aspect of your “game,” I suppose.
The customization options in Quick Play mode consist of determining which of the unlocked arenas you want to play in. Other than that, you have to follow the on-screen prompts; there’s no freedom or ad-libbing as there is in Career mode. As a result, this mode is basically comprised of quick-action button-press games, only you’re not pressing a button, you’re moving your body. And you have to respond to the prompts very quickly, just to be forewarned. It’s probably the only mode in Hulk Hogan’s Main Event that requires cat-like reflexes.
In Exhibition mode, you setup three-, five-, seven- or 11-stunt matches and follow the prompts accordingly. By adding stunts (the specific moves that you practice in Quick Play mode), you increase the length of the time of each match. You can choose to play in any of the arenas/rings/environments you’ve unlocked in Career mode, and you can ad-lib a bit, but you won’t win the exhibition/match until you complete the required stunts. The Hulk Hogan’s Main Event Head-to-Head mode, meanwhile, is exactly like Exhibition Mode, except you take turns with another person to see who can score the most points.
As you can likely tell from this review, Hulk Hogan’s Main Event seems expansive on the surface, but it’s essentially the same basic pieces rearranged and re-swizzled into a few different modes. Hearing quotes from Hulk Hogan is cool, the Achievement Points are easy, and it’s definitely novel to strike a pose like the Hulkster. But a bit more grappling freedom would’ve gone a long way to making this Xbox Kinect game live up to Hulk Hogan’s massive persona.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360 (platform-exclusive)