[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Panic Button LLC” publishers=”Majesco Entertainment” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”October 11, 2011″]
Any child of the eighties o wrestling fan of the nineties can’t deny the influence that Hulk Hogan has had on the wrestling genre. And now that they have grown up, they also can’t deny that Hulk Hogan loves nothing more than to over reach into areas of media he does not belong based solely on his popularity as a wrestler and abusing the fandom of Hulkamaniacs. We have seen it with poorly done movies, television dramas, and reality shows. We have even seen him flop and flounder within the wrestling world with promotions like TNA. While wrestling lends itself well to the video game arena, due to Hogan’s past failures and the gimmicky nature of most Kinect based titles, one has to wonder if developer Panic Button and publisher Majesco has delivered us a title that we have to go into with low expectations. Even with low expectations does Hulk Hogan’s Main Event stomp on the heart of every little Hulkamaniac that said their prayers and ate their vitamins or does it buck the trend with Hogan related properties and actually present a worthwhile quality of entertainment?
Hulk Hogan’s Main Event tries to be a wrestling version of Punch Out style games. Instead it ends up feeling more like an on-rails wrestling title. Matches consist of fight stunts predetermined that have you making gestures to drop your opponents health so that you can move on to the next fight stunt. Hogan appears in a little circle in the bottom right demonstrating the expected gesture for you to make. Luckily some of the stunts allow you to ignore him and you actually get better results from doing so while other stunts force you to do exactly what Hogan does and quickly or you will lose points and health. The stunts cover most of the aspects of professional wrestling from trading blows, grappling, Irish whipping, chair hits, body slamming, choke slamming, ladder bashing, aerial assaults, back on the ropes, and pinning to win. Trading Blows is probably the most intuitive of the bunch and resembles punch out with blocking, dodging, kicking, slapping, and punching.
Unfortunately for the player the gesture recognition for this title border lines on complete ass. That may not be a professional way to describe it but it is still true all the same and is the perfect descriptor. I would punch and it would instead block. I would lean and it would not pick that up. I would move like Hogan in the circle during grapples, pins, and slams and I would fail and lose points or health. It became very frustrating and made matches last longer than they should physically wearing myself out after only two matches on the easy difficulty. This limiting factor ends up being not so bad once you start to learn the nuances of the gestures and figure out what gesture to make that will actually register for the required gesture. Most of the time it seemed that the gesture that worked was no where in the same ball park. This can’t be blamed on Kinect because I have seen excellent gesture recognition in other titles.
You are able to create your own wrestler and in fact if you don’t, you are stuck with the default one that is on the main menu which you are technically just editing when you create your own. Typical customization options are available but are extremely limited in choices. After a decade of solid customizing in wrestling games, it is hard to go to such a stripped down feature. The create-a-wrestler also allows you to record catch phrases in response to questions, but that is a feature to be avoided unless you like hearing your own voice to the point of beyond normal tolerance. Completing matches in other modes unlock more items for the create a wrestler but not enough to come anywhere close to the default offerings in other games.
Career mode consists of ten scripted on-rail matches that get more difficult. In career mode, each match starts off with a forced entrance that requires you to pose and dodge food three to eight or more times. Luckily if you lose a stunt in career mode you can retry from that stunt rather than starting the fight over again. Unfortunately the ten fights can be completed in less than three hours but that will unlock a harder difficulty that is just more of the same for a repeat of the ten matches. Quick play mode allows you to just pick a stunt and play that stunt without going through a whole match. Exhibition mode allows you to start a match with a range of stunts from three to eleven. The head to head or multiplayer mode is not so much fighting against your friend but taking turns for high score over a match.
Graphically Main Event looks a bit like the WWE All Stars title that came out last year. That graphic style lends itself well to the over the top arcade style animations. The wrestlers are almost plastic looking action figures but with a bit of detail. Props contain the same detail but the arenas, ring, and audience seem to have been overlooked by the graphic artists. The audio for the game is sub par at best. Hogan gets annoying with his one liners and the themes are nothing to write home about. The sound effects for the matches are suitable but lack luster. The achievements are easy and require the player to complete the game modes and fight stunts on different difficulties. The game can be done in six to eight hours if you don’t get tired easily.
Hulk Hogan’s Main Event killed any sentimental child hood nostalgia I might have had for Hogan. But to be fair I had little after going back and watching No Holds Barred last year. The poor gesture recognition and horrible on rails gameplay is only saved by the shortness of content and that is only if you are an achievement whore.