|System: Xbox 360|
|Pub: Microsoft Studios|
|Release: August 24, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Patriel Manning
Here in the U.S., game shows were once extremely popular. We had pyramids of money, tic-tac-toe with celebrities, and something known as a "Whammy," and it all worked out fairly well. While the popularity of the traditional game show has waned over the years, the genre has seen something of a resurgence lately thanks largely in part to the localization of popular Japanese game shows here in the States.
One such show is Hole in the Wall. Starting out as 脳カベ (Nōkabe, or "Brain Wall"), players were confronted with a moving wall that would push them into a pool of water unless they were able to contort themselves into a shape that could fit through holes in the walls. The show was initially picked up by Fox, but couldn't find an audience and is now running on Cartoon Network. That's where the video game comes in. In the game based on the show (based on the other game show), players perform the same actions, twisting and contorting to match the shapes as best they can, but without the embarrassing silver jumpsuit or being hit in the face with a giant Styrofoam wall.
Hole in the Wall uses Kinect body-tracking to control the onscreen avatar (represented as a large "shadow") as players attempt to match the *ahem* holes in the wall and continue progressing towards the end of the round. The walls are surrounded by a meter that fills up according to how well your pose matches the opening. As an aid, the player's silhouette will change color from red to green depending on how well the player's pose matches.
The gameplay is divided into two main modes: Quick Survival and Show. Both of the modes are pretty straightforward. Quick Survival mode pits a player against an endless stream of walls, ending only when the player falters and misses a cue. Show mode is a bit easier. Players here are afforded three "strikes," or misses, before given the boot. There are several different themed levels here, and each of the levels consists of four main rounds. The final round often has a special twist, forcing players to play with the lights off or affording only one chance to pass the round instead of the usual three.
One problem many Kinect owners will run into is the issue of space. While playing the game, I found that the available space in my living room wouldn't allow for the game to be played properly. After some minor adjustments—the kitchen was introduced to the living room furniture—I was able to play without too many hiccups. One problem I did encounter was that, at times, while I felt that I had nailed a gesture or pose, either Kinect or the game failed to recognize it. It didn't happen often enough to ruin the game for me, though, as the whole interface seemed to work generally well.
The graphics are neither offensive nor remarkable, striking the mark somewhere between bland and forgettable, though, to be honest, great graphics aren't really necessary for a game like this. The sound is also far from great, but, again, with a title like this it almost doesn't matter. This kind of game is meant to be enjoyed in large groups or at parties while watching your friends make complete fools of themselves. On that front this game succeeds. Up to four players will be able play on opposing teams of two members each, which can get pretty entertaining as long as you have the room for it.
It isn't without faults, though. My biggest problem with this game is that it does exactly what it says on the box, which, when you think about it, isn't much. Hole in the Wall does well to duplicate the experience that's had by the players on the show, but it does little else to keep players interested beyond the almost requisite photo mode which should be good for a few laughs. However, aside from unlocking levels to play through in Show mode, there isn't really much to keep players coming back.
All things considered, then, whether or not you'll want to buy this title largely depends on whether or not you enjoy the show it's based on. It'll also depend on whether or not you enjoy playing party games that force people in to socially awkward situations for a laugh. If the latter is a motivator for you, there are plenty of games that do just that without all of the crass mediocrity present in this title. However if you're a fan of the show and would like to experience it in your living room then, by all means, pick this up. You won't be disappointed.
CCC Contributing Writer