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Just Like You Would Expect - A Fun Game With A Group
on October 21, 2011
There is something magically addicting about watching a game show on television. Tension and excitement build when there are big prizes at stake, and nothing spells tension like having a $1 million prize on the line. Minute to Win It is one of these game shows that feature high stakes, quick thinking, and lots of action. With the abilities of the Kinect for Xbox 360, such a game might be a nice translation.
The game show itself, Minute to Win It, has been on American television since March, 2010. The premise of the show is to have increasingly difficult challenges which contestants must complete to win the big bucks. There are a total of ten increasingly difficult challenges offering the ultimate payout of $1 million. The first, and easiest of the challenges, starts off with a reward of $1,000. Each subsequent challenge increases the payout along with the complexity of the challenge. Contestants are asked if they would like to walk away with their current earnings or to stay and possibly win more. The caveat is the possibility of losing all their winnings if they fail their next challenge. As the title of the show would suggest, each challenge must be completed in a nerve-wracking 60 seconds. Audience enthusiasm and tension is orchestrated by celebrity host, Guy Fieri.
As for the game, Minute to Win It, is available on several different video game platforms, but is made most interesting by the Kinect through full body tracking. For people who have ever played the game 1 vs 100 on Xbox Live, the feeling is very similar here. The audience, host, and players all appear as Xbox Avatars. A word to the wise, how you dressed your Avatar, will be how they show up in the game. My Avatar was donning a tux and pig helmet, which seemed proper for a high-stakes game show. Guy Fieri makes his appearance as the host. Mr. Fieri's voice acting felt natural, but I'm still not totally comfortable with his Avatar. Perhaps I would favor a different look, but admittedly this is just a small personal nitpick. After all, I'm the one showing up with a pig helmet.
The entire game is very straight forward. P ick how many players you want (one, one vs. one, or up to four taking turns) and then pick your mode. There is the game show mode, a time challenge mode, and a practice mode. I found it strange that there is no online mode for leaderboards or competitive play, but I am reviewing an early build of the game and the developers could have added it before retail launch.
The game show mode is really the bread and butter of this game and where you'll be spending a majority of your time. The crowd of cheering Avatars is quite fun and you certainly feel a bit of the game show buzz when your Avatar appears in the spotlight. The challenges are surprisingly varied and as close to realistic as you can get. While I haven't performed all the challenges in real life, I would certainly imagine real life challenges to be more difficult than the Kinect counterparts. For instance, rolling an egg by flapping a pizza box seems like it would take a lot more effort in person versus the arm flapping I did in front of my television set. Some challenges are a bit silly, such as pulling out tissues and having to wipe away stray tissues from my face, but everything is done in fun and meant for a good laugh. Each challenge comes with their own blueprint, just like the television show. The show is broken up by make-believe commercials, which you act out as your Avatar. A video clip is available for laughter and ridicule after each challenge is complete. Sadly, I didn't see a way to share these hilarious videos online.
The Kinect tracking seems very natural and the challenges feel solid enough where they don't seem to cheapen the experience. When a virtual $1 million is on the line, bad controls can totally ruin the enjoyment. Thankfully everything seems to track very well, from rolling ping-pong balls to shaking pedometers. Albeit some tasks seem almost too easy, such as bouncing balls into cups, and some challenges seem pretty difficult, like rolling an orange with a banana between your legs. While the challenges do get tricky, there is a harder difficulty option for those daring enough to try. Overall, you'll have to let your imagination just run away with the show and just have fun.
In reviewing games, I look for the five F's: fitness, fun, functionality, family, and firsts. There are some games, such as Wipeout 2 that are naturally built for fitness; Minute to Win It is not billed as such. You will however be moving your arms and various body parts a lot, but nothing that will work up an incredible sweat. As for fun, the 20 challenges are wacky enough to keep you entertained. Being in the spotlight and watching after-event videos adds some solid enjoyment to the game. Mix in more participants and you'll have a blast. The functionality of the game is fairly solid, despite some of the challenges feeling a little dumbed down compared to their real life counterparts and other challenges being a bit difficult to master. If you are looking for a family friendly game, you've come to the right spot because everything in the game is clean and tasteful fun with just a hint of innuendo. With that said, several of the challenges may be a bit challenging for young kids to try on their own. As for firsts, Minute to Win It doesn't set any records for creating a new or unique experience. What it does, it does well. However, you have probably played something like this before or else already have an understanding of what the game is before ever playing it.
There are a surprisingly decent amount of challenges to explore and have fun with. The title also supports downloadable content, which opens the door for future challenge add-ons. I really would have liked to see competitive online modes or leaderboards, but again maybe that is just missing from the preview copy. For players that either host a lot of parties or otherwise have multiple bodies around, this game can be a lot of fun. As far as the single player experience, once the show is over (there are ten shows) there isn't a lot to keep you coming back for more. In summary, if you are a fan of the show, looking for a game show fix, or have people to play with, then Minute to Win It could be the party title you are looking for. If you don't fall into these categories, then this title might not be the perfect fit for your gaming dollars.