When motion gaming came to the XBox 360 and Playstation 3, gamers everywhere echoed one fear, “Are we destined for the same shovelware that plagues the Wii?” Unfortunately, it looks like the answer is in the affirmative as Minute to Win It, originally a Wii title, has made its way to the Kinect.
The first thing I noticed when loading up the game for the first time was that the same 15-second music clip (which I assume is from the Minute to Win It television show) was repeated over- and over- and over. The tune permeates the game and bores itself into your skull like one of those earworms from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
From there, the game becomes an exercise in monotony and frustration very quickly. The single player modes come in Easy and Hard difficulties and consist of Show, which offers you four different episodes in the Minute to Win It game show format; Time Trial, which allows you to try your hand at the 20 different challenges and achieve the best time possible; Training, which gives you an opportunity to practice the challenges that are giving you the most trouble; and Survival, which pits you against challenge after challenge until you fail.
Only one Show is available at first, with the others unlocked by successfully completing the available one. For those unfamiliar with the show format, the game consists of 10 challenges, each which must be completed in 60 seconds (hence the title). The challenges in the game typically play upon one gesture set from simply shaking an extremity to (and this is absolutely true) thrusting your hips to swing a banana tied between your legs into oranges to knock them into a hoop. I imagine that the developers assumed that you would gather around the Kinect with consenting adults and yuk it up. It just isn’t that funny, though.
The format is where things start to break down. The first few challenges are fairly easy, despite instructions that are oftentimes misleading or simply incorrect. For example, the tissue box challenge instructions tell you to pull the tissues with alternating hands. The challenge, though, includes arrows over your hands indicating which you should be using. If you use the wrong hand, you lose points. This is critical information that the tutorial absolutely ignores.
Once you get to the fifth or sixth challenge, you are likely to run into some trouble as difficulty ramps up quickly. I ran through all three of my lives on one challenge, my game was over and I bounced back to the main menu. Each of the shows has a counter next to it in the format [X/10]. No matter how far you get, if you do not actually complete all 10 challenges, this indicator will read [0/10]. Even if you bank your money and leave the show before failing, you still need to start the show over again. Even worse, the shows are not random, which means that to get to the challenge you failed, you need to slog through the ones you’ve already completed successfully.
I understand that they are trying to mimic the format of the show, but allowances should be made for the video game format. Thankfully, the commercial breaks, which are interactive, can be skipped. Suffering through the horrible Ahnold impersonator once was quite enough. Guy Fieri is on hand to voice his character, but he has a very limited number of lines and begins to grate quickly.
There are multiplayer modes that feature two-player simultaneous or up to four-player hot-seat play. These might be enjoyable if you’ve already run through the rest of your Kinect library with your friends, but I don’t expect it will hold anyone’s attention for very long.
The presentation of the game is Avatar-based and reminiscent of 1 vs 100 and, perhaps, Minute to Win It would have done better in that online format. The highlight reel of players making fools of themselves (or simply thrusting their hips) would be more tolerable if there were prizes on the line.
I was surprised to discover that Minute to Win It is a $40 title, as I had rather expected to find it on the XBox Live Arcade release list, where it still would have been hard to recommend at $10 or $15. Minute to Win It represents the shovelware that has plagued the Wii and has started to pop up on the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. There are far better options for the Kinect that are enjoyable for single-player experiences and party scenarios.
Review copy provided by publisher.