Game Rant’s Alex Sebenski reviews Hole in the Wall for Kinect
Everyone should recognize Hole in the Wall. The ridiculous and awesome Japanese game show turned American. Contestants have to fit themselves through holes cut out of moving Styrofoam walls – or risk being pushed into water behind them.
It’s as if the Japanese gameshow designers had the Xbox Kinect in mind when they came up with the concept – since Hole in the Wall delivers party game fun with simple mechanics that require team work – and making a fool of yourself by posing in amusing shapes.
The game begins with an easy to follow team assignment menu that uses Kinect facial recognition to match a player’s face to their gamer tag and guests can easily join using a generic “Player #” account. Facial recognition fails on occasion but is easy enough to correct or override. Like most Kinect games, facial recognition helps speed-up the process of taking turns – and as well as achievement tracking. Once the player is identified, their avatar appears on the screen dressed in the silver Hole in the Wall spandex suit. Players can join one of two teams, red or blue, with a max of two players per team.
The system for skipping menus uses a fairly easy hand waving motion and the same gesture is used for skipping cut scenes. There really aren’t that many menus or options to get in the way of gameplay and the navigation buttons are large and straight forward – all of which is important when it comes to using the Kinect open hand menu controls.
Hole in the Wall sports two modes of play, “Survival” and “Show.” The main game mode is “Show” where the player chooses from a list of themed options. The theme dictates the shapes that the players must fit through – i.e. sports, winter, USA, or Australia. Winter shapes involved skiing, snowmen or pine trees. Sports themed shapes included karate, golf or baseball stances.
To win the players have to pose in shapes shown on the walls as they close-in. The players shadowy outline, against the wall, which changes colors from red to yellow to green, gives visual feedback as to how well everyone is posing. Depending on the player’s success, the outline of the wall will lighs up. The faster the bar fills the higher the point score. If the player fails to fill the outside bar by posing correctly they get a strike. In “Show” mode, three strikes and you’re out – and must restart the show from the beginning. The shapes are the same and in the same order every time so trying again usually means the player is overall more prepared for each challenge. The most enjoyable aspect of “Show” mode is probably the fourth and final rounds in each of the themed shows. These rounds include intriguing variations to the game – such as playing in the dark and only allowing the player to see the hole (which obscures portions of the body, when incorrectly aligned. As an added example, another final round challenge required players to cover targets – by making any shape they wanted (imagine Kinect Twister).
If the players join on two different teams in “Show” mode they are able to compete on the same series of walls one after another. A winner is assigned based on the number of walls passed or the higher point score. Very smartly for a party game like Hole in the Wall, a second player can easily just walk into the play area, wave, and join the game at any point in time.
After each round of Survival mode the player can review a photo of everyone posing for each wall. Two player team poses often become close contact and awkward – while balancing in inhuman sideways positions – which make for great photo content.The photo saving is very simple, fast, and important feature handled just fine.The pictures can be saved – and viewed later from the “Bonus” section of the main menu.
“Survival” mode is very similar to “Show” mode in terms of gameplay but throws a continuous stream of holes at the player until they get a strike. One strike and you’re out in “Survival mode.” This could also be referred to as exercise mode. The timing and holes aren’t especially difficult but jumping up and down to fill the shapes becomes exhausting.
The game doesn’t fall short of what you would expect from the officially licensed Hole in the Wall game. Fans of the show will appreciate the similarities the game shares with the show. The music, the set, the announcer and even the costume help immerse the players into the game.
Hole in The Wall gameplay can become frustrating – as a result of inaccuracies or limitations from the Kinect sensor. Unlike the game show, it isn’t about fitting your body through the hole on the screen, it’s about forming your body to the shape of the hole on the screen – in the same location. A lot of the time the player will fit completely inside the shape but the game will score them poorly or even earn a strike – because their body isn’t in the shape the game expected. It’s understandable to a player when they earn a strike because they fail to balance on one foot or because they’re in the wrong place – but to fail and not understand what they did wrong is especially annoying.
Also, some of the poses require kneeling or laying down and some gamers will find it can be uncomfortable, or even painful, to play on a hardwood floor. On a personal note, the problem can be remedied by utilizing a yoga mat in the play area. Players who enjoy the game from a comfy shag carpet will probably be fine but it’s worth looking at your play-space before dropping-down money for Hole in the Wall. Speaking of Kinect game space, the title also requires players to balance and lean over pretty far – while standing in the furthest corners of the Kinect sensor area. This may put breakables in danger, even if they’re outside of the Kinect sensor area – so take care.
Hole is the Wall is a guaranteed fun party game that accurately recreates the popular game show – but falters with some frustrating game play. It’s really made for players looking for a game to enjoy with friends – and just have a good time. Anyone looking for something more serious, should probably look elsewhere.
If you’re still on the fence about Hole in the Wall, check out the game’s trailer below:
Hole in the Wall is out on the Xbox Live Marketplace today, August 24th, 2011.