Hole in the Wall Review
Posted by Thomas Wakelin
Bring on the wall!
Hole in the Wall is as simple as a game title can get; a wall with a hole in it comes hurtling towards your Avatar. As the player, you must use your body to fit through these holes and avoid being knocked into a pool of water behind you.
There are two main modes of play on show; Quick Survival and Show. Quick Survival mode fires an unlimited quantity of walls towards your terrified Avatar, increasing in speed as you progress by passing each one. If you miss one however it’s game over and your score is posted to the Xbox Live leaderboards. While this is entertaining at first, it soon gets a little repetitive as you repeat walls you only passed a few moments ago. However as previously stated, the online leaderboard system adds some replay value as you try to better your friends' (or the world's) highest scores.
The main mode here though is Show, which boasts ten different stages for you to try and pass. Each “Show” is split into three rounds and a bonus round, and you have to create the shapes coming towards you as near as possible as a perfect shape fills up the gauge around the wall; the quicker it’s filled the more points are awarded and you move onto the next wall. As the game's “Story Mode” so to speak, it is entertaining for a while, with a wide variety of walls creating humorous scenes both in-game and off-screen.
Though this isn’t always the case, the game occasionally resizes players into giants; shrinking the hole in the wall and making it difficult (if not impossible) to pass. This subtracts a lot of fun away from the title though could easily be fixed in a future update. As it is now however, you’ll be getting a lot more splats than passes.
While the difficulty appears simple from screenshots,in reality this isn’t the case – some walls are very difficult to complete and while that does come down to the actual player, the game itself can also be blamed. Your shadowed portrayal uses a traffic-light system to illustrate how well (or badly) you're doing:red doesn’t fill the gauge at all while amber does slowly and green fills quickly. At times you’ll swear you couldn’t be any more “in” the titular hole, but the game will still turn you orange or red, forcing you to reposition yourself before time runs out.
If you are in a small apartment, then you have no choice but to pass on Hole in the Wall. While some current Kinect titles such as Kinect Adventures allow you to enjoy Kinect with a smaller amount of room, this XBLA game requires a large amount of horizontal space. Sofa sticking out? Either move it,give this a miss or prepare to take a lot more than one dip in that pool of water. If other titles can work around this issue of “lack of space”, then there's no excuse here: it really does take a lot of enjoyment out of the title, and refusing to work with any player’s room is obviously going to be a major drawback, especially after you’ve just purchased it. Bear in mind that as always there is a free trial available, so try before you buy.
For an 800 Microsoft Point purchase, you are also investing in some lovely (if basic) visuals, even if the main focus is on your Avatar dressed up to the neck in a skin-tight unitard. Some wall designs are simple but others are more creative, making you look silly both on-screen and off. A great example of this is one wall design that has you in a sitting down position while the wall itself is a large illustration of a chair and a table, creating the illusion that you’re enjoying a spot of afternoon tea. Other walls display further creative ideas, some even giving you ski poles while your friends sneer at you trying to look cool while doing your stance.
Sounds will be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched a single episode of the TV series before, from the crowd cheering to the siren counting down to go. Menu screens however are on a loop making you want to decide what to do next before your friends leave due to irritation. Ideally though, you’ll be playing this game with friends and family, perhaps at a party, so maybe you’ll have the game on mute while listening to some ‘real’ music, and that’s going to make this game a lot enjoyable for everyone.
Hole in the Wall (like many of Kinect’s current line-up of titles) is most enjoyable in a sociable environment with friends or family. Where this game succeeds isn’t necessarily in terms of innovation, graphic or sound quality, it succeeds in a way which any casual gaming family wants: fun and laughter. There may be an issue with shrinking holes, but that will only add to the hilarity when you try to scrunch your body up to attempt to pass that stage.
A game to experience with four players taking part and a lot of fun if you’re going to have on-lookers or are after a substitution to Kinect Sports. This should be perfect for Kinect as anyone can just walk in and play, but issues with space requirements and accuracy affect the score (and the overall playability of the game) dramatically. The lack of a true online versus mode is also apparent and should have been included; you’re downloading it after all. It’s a good concept at heart, but its occasional issues bring it down: if you don't mind losing some lives occasionally, and have access to multiplayer at a touch of a phone then you can’t go wrong, but for everyone else, this is difficult to recommend.