Our fourth game show game arrives on the Kinect and honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect. The synopsis states:

The phrase “move it or lose it” takes on a whole new meaning with this chance to play Minute to Win It with Xbox Kinect. Experience the adrenaline rush as you compete in the quick-hit race to a million bucks while host Guy Fieri looks on. Using common household items, you’ll tackle a series of increasingly difficult tasks, laying the money you’ve won on the line each time you decide to try another. These challenges may seem easy, but with a million bucks waiting to be won, they’re a lot harder than they look. Sharpen your skills in Practice Mode then play for the big bucks in single-player, co-op, or multiplayer competition.

Overview

I have to say, out of most game show games I have played, this one is the most authentic to the real show. It made me wish I could really win money from it! The developers did a fantastic job except a couple of games didn’t work to well for me, but I’m not sure if it’s the programming or my detection. Minute To Win It offers up 20 of its challenges to complete, which makes you ending up wanting more, but I think the developers were aware of this as there is a “Download” section in the main menu. Check out the mini trailer we created from the in-game demonstration.

The Menu

Speaking of the menu, this game uses the hover and lock method as used in previous games. It works except it can be too sensitive sometimes, so you may accidentally hover over something else when you are picking something in the middle. The menu consists of the following options, Just Me, With Friends, Downloads, High Scores and Options. I’ll review the game in the order of the menu items to make it easier.

Just Me

Just Me is all about you. This is the only mode in which you can play the actual shows in. They included 4 shows to play. Each show consists of 10 challenges that are pre-determined, it may have been a little neater to actually randomize it, but maybe not, as some challenges are harder than others, but the harder challenges are typically in the middle somewhere. There are 2 difficulty modes, first is easy and the other is hard. Easy keeps the requirements to pass the challenge at a pretty reasonable level, until you get to Show 4 which is locked by default, until you complete the first 3 shows. Show 4 has a game that caused me some issues and I’m unable to determine if it’s the programming in the game or if its my setup/detection issue, either way I cannot continue past it, but it would have been easier if the developer lowered the “easy” requirement. I attempted Show 1 on hard, it is ridiculously challenging. I only made it to the 2nd challenge.

The actual shows are played just like the TV show, I mean exact. As I stated, it’s the most authentic game show game I have ever played. You start out by the normal introduction that is on TV. Guy introduces the show and then welcomes you down from the audience and you start dancing and doing whatever. You are then presented with your first blue print. The blue prints are EXACT from the TV show, even the British woman’s voice walks you through it. They did add a Kinect portion to the blue prints to explain how to play each challenge. I found this VERY helpful as I had no idea how to play any of the challenges. After the blue print, you start out with the challenge and completing it winning $1,000 and work your way up to $1,000,000. You can leave any time and “bank” your winnings. The game keeps a bank of how much money you earn. To make it even more authentic, they even added TV commercials that you participate in. These commercials vary from weight training devices such as lifting a bar w/ weights on the end, running on a treadmill, to exercises to entertainment such as juggling balls. They are like mini infomercials and by completing them, you get bonuses such as being stronger for throwing games, being able to run faster, better aiming, etc. It really is a nice mix to the game show. You do have the option to skip these, but you will not earn the bonuses. There are 2 commercial breaks per show.

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One of the commercials you get to participate in

There is also another break which is a SuperMarket break. This is highly unlikely, but the show doesn’t anticipate you making it as far as you do, so you have to go to the supermarket and pickup some items for your next challenges. To do this, you have to run around with a shopping cart grabbing items as you go. You use your hands like a steering wheel and run in place to go max speed. You can also walk to slow down or stop completely. There is other stuff to do besides collecting the items, such as knocking displays down and jumping off ramps and a funny thing, you can hit other avatars which are your friends and other gamertags on your xbox. My wife and kids are on mine and sure enough, they were walking around in the store, so I accidentally rammed one of them, and up they popped up and started riding around in my cart. I found this humourous so I did it to another person which is one of my friends on Xbox Live and they were riding in the cart. It can cause some serious laughter issues. There is a point to this whole thing, depending on if you collect all of the items and how much time you finish with, this time is added to your next challenge or if you do really well, you can add an extra life. I was able to finish one of them with 15 seconds left and this was added onto my next challenge which was definitely welcomed. There are 2 supermarket races in each show as well. These are skippable as well.

This game does an excellent job of replicating what it feels like to be under pressure. One of the shows, for some reason I ended up using all my lives except my last one. I was on the final event with one life left. Guy mentioned its do or die, talk about pressure! I really didn’t want to start all the way over from the beginning. It is a good feeling though to be able to replicate it in a video game. After you complete the show, you are returned to the main menu. You can then proceed onto the next show. The only thing that gets old after a while is the actual game show introduction is the same one for all 4 shows, you can however skip this thankfully. The other annoying thing which you can’t skip, is after each challenge, you are asked to stay or leave. It would have been nice to set this in the options menu to have continuous mode on or something. After you complete the shows, or become bored with them, there is another mode that you can play. This is the time trial mode. What this is all of the challenges minus the show atmosphere. You can play 1 or you can play all 20. The objective is to get as many gold medals as you can per challenge. You can also play the time trial mode on easy or hard mode.

If you end up running into trouble with any of the challenges, there is a practice mode. You can set the time limit to either 60 seconds or no limit to really practice. I found this mode helpful as it replicates the same challenges in the show modes. You can practice 1 challenge or all 20 as well. What else is cool is you don’t feel the pressure from the show mode, you are in some sweet penthouse room or something with hardwood floors and your avatar friends/family are just around watching you so the pressure is off.

The last mode is the survival mode which is locked by default. I am not sure how to unlock it to be honest, it’s either by completing Show 4 or getting all medals in all of the time trials, which I did fail one. I believe this mode just keeps on going with challenge after challenge or you can probably rank in some high scores, but I can’t imagine it would be that easy.

The single player mode will keep you busy for a while. Even though the challenges are only 60 seconds, after you do about 5 of them, you realize an hour has passed, which I found quite welcoming. Alas, if you become a master at beating everything on easy and hard and have nothing left to do, you can start in on the multiplayer fun.

With Friends

With Friends mode offers multiplayer support for 2, 3 and even 4 players. Amazingly, each player option has different options which I found really cool. I really think the developers put some effort into this game, which is why I put effort into this review. On 2 player mode, you get the following choices – Head-To-Head, Cooperative, Competition and Record Breakers.

With Head-To-Head, this is just straight up Head-To-Head challenges. I didn’t try every single one of them, but I belive most of them are simultaneous 2 player from the ones I did try. Cooperative mode allows you and another player to team up to get some really high scores. Unfortunately I couldn’t get this mode to work, it may be a bug, so let’s hope the developer is already working on a patch. Competition mode is just a score competition between the 2 of you, taking turns. Record breakers is an attempt at breaking both single player and multiple player record numbers.

3 Player mode only offers Competition mode and the Record Breakers mode. 4 Player mode has Competition mode and Record Breakers mode as well, however adds 2 new modes, a Last Man Standing mode and a Team Challenge mode. The Last Man Standing mode is a battle between 4 people and eliminating one player at a time. The Team Challenge mode is 2 teams of 2 competing head to head to win. These multiple modes are welcomed!

Downloads

I am guessing, but hoping I am right. Not all of the Minute To Win It challenges that are on TV are not in the game, I am hoping they add more as DLC which would be awesome, let’s just hope they aren’t too pricey, they are only a 60 second mini-game so they can’t expect us to pay too much for them. When I did click on Downloads, it mentioned it couldn’t connect to Xbox Live and to try again later, I’m not sure if XBL was down or if there is a problem with their section, but I’m going to guess it’s their section as the game is not even listed on the marketplace, hopefully Microsoft gets this resolved soon as this game can be even better.

High Scores

This is an interesting section. This keeps track of how well you do on each challenge. I did not see any online leaderboards or anything, but it keeps stats as well. In the stats section, it keeps track of everything you do, how far you have travelled, how many things you thrown, etc. It also keeps track of game progress which I found odd for a game show game, as well as your game time in single player and multiplayer mode. I logged 3 hours and 15 minutes and only have 18% game progress completion. That is a good thing on a Kinect game in my view. It is the first “Completionist” game, as I call them where you can actually achieve 100% in the game, and its a game show game at that! I am impressed with these developers.

Options

Lastly, you have your options, there isn’t much here. You can turn the music and sound on or off, enable/disable subtitles and view the game credits.

The Challenges

Because this is actually a good game and effort was definitely put into it, I went through the process of going through each challenge for you and describing them. I’m not going to completely spoil them for you, although reading about them and doing the actual challenges is 2 totally different things so it may not matter, but here they are in no particular order. You can even watch them on the real Minute To Win It TV show website as they are the same challenges, just “played similar with Kinect”. Luckily, loading time attention is minimized as the blue prints play each time a challenge is loading so you really don’t pay attention.

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The loading movies keep you "busy"...

Loner – The real challenge has you laying on your stomach, and you roll marbles at a single pencil to try to knock it down. The Kinect version has your avatar lay down on their stomach (you remain standing). The marbles turn into like a baseball sized marble and the pencil is multiplied and enlarged into 10 pencils forming a bowling formation. Your objective is to “bowl” these giant pencils over. No issues with this at all.

Rapid Fire – The real challenge is to use 2 hands and fling rubber bands at empty, stacked up soda cans. The Kinect version automatically flings for you, you just choose left or right hand and aim and it fires automatically, just do it as fast as possible. No issues with this one at all.

This Blows – The real challenge is to blow up a balloon with your mouth, then let the air out and blow empty cups off of a table with the air from the balloon. The Kinect version has you still pump up a balloon, but using the floor air pump motion to blow up a balloon and then you swing the balloon left and right to blow the cups off the table. I had some minor glitches with this game but it worked.

What A Racquet – The real challenge puts a tennis racquet in between your knees and you use your knees to rotate it around because a gumball is rolling around and your objective is to get it to stay in one spot. The Kinect version kind of retracts it staying and you just have to get the gumball to stay in a position for about 3 seconds and then a new section appears where it wants you to put it, you do more of a body leaning motion to move the racquet than using your knees. This one worked with no issues.

Sticky Balls – The real challenge consists of rolling marbles on a table and getting them to stick at the other end with double-sided tape. The Kinect challenge is pretty close to the real thing, the only addition is random marbles will appear on the table to actually help you get more marbles in the “end zone”. This one worked good as well.

Extreme Hanky Panky – The real challenge is to empty out a box of kleenex using both hands with one box in 60 seconds. The Kinect version “extremes” it by having 2 boxes and it determines which box you pull tissues out of. When you get both going, you sometimes end up with a tissue on your face and you can’t see. Swiping your face removes this. It’s a fun one, no issues with it either.

How’s It Hanging – The real challenge is a banana is tied to your waist, and some oranges are on the floor. You have to swing the banana from your waist and hit the oranges to a circle in the middle of the floor. The Kinect version is actually spot on. You first start out by running in place, this gets you to the oranges that are placed around the floor. Luckily, you don’t have to turn, although it would have been more authentic if it detect shoulder turning as well but it would have made it super hard so I can see why it’s not in there. Anyway, once you make it to orange, you have to your hips/waist to swing your “banana” hanging down to hit the orange, and you will sometimes walk with the orange but if you hit it hard, it goes farther and you have to run in place to keep up. This one will make your stomach/hips sore. I don’t recall any exercise games attacking the stomach like this one does, or you are using stomach muscles that exercise games don’t. It is a challenging one I will give it that. I had no issues with this one either, it is just challenging.

Punch Your Lights Out – The real challenge uses stick-on push it lights, those ones you can stick anywhere and you push them in to turn them on or off? You have to throw a bean bag at them to light them up in a row, if I recall the challenge correctly. The Kinect version has like 20 or 30 lights, they are all turned off except for 5-8 of them. You have to aim and then throw a bean bag at the ones that are lit and then turn them off. This one is glitchy. I think it has something to do with the aiming games when you are farther back. The 2 ends (far left and far right) are the ones that don’t always “lock your aim”. The other thing that sucks is your requirement may be like 12. Well, in order to get any points, you have to get all of the lights turned off in succession, meaning if there are 6 lit, you have to “un-light” all 6 otherwise you get no points. It does kind of suck but it adds to the challenge. This one is at least passable.

Ka-Broom – The real challenge is to use a broom and step on it to launch a marshmallow at you off of a plate and catch the marshmallow into an empty cup. The Kinect version has you throw a broom at a plate on 1 of 5 tables that is indicated which one to throw the broom at, and then it launches the marshmallow and you have to line up your coffee cup to catch the marshmallow. You have to be pretty close to catching the marshmallow otherwise you miss it, or it bounces off the rim and then it zooms in and then its even more tricky. You have to move your cup closer to Kinect, the angle the camera is at, will have you moving your left or right thinking you are moving it closer, so it is a little confusing. Overall, it’s a fun game, I didn’t have any issues with this one.

Wet Ball – The real challenge is to put a balloon up in the air (blown up with regular air) and then use a water spray bottle to keep spraying the balloon up in the air and make it into a basket at the other end. If you spray too much water on latex (in real life) it will pop the balloon, I’m not a science major so I don’t know why, but it really does. The Kinect version mimics this exactly, except it adds you moving the balloon through 3 hoops/rings to add to the challenge. You can run out of water as well, so you have to shake your can to produce more water, just something to take away precious seconds. I had no issues with this one.

High Strung – The real challenge has you use a string from a bow (bow and arrow) and loop it and pick up an egg off the top of a 2 Liter soda bottle. You then balance the egg in the middle of the looped string, and run across the other side and set the egg on top of another 2 Liter soda bottle. The Kinect version creates the loop for you. You have to walk/run in place and go pick up the egg. This is done just by clasping your palms together like you were picking up an egg. Once you have the egg, you have to use your hands in a steering wheel motion to keep balance of the egg. While balancing, you have to walk/run in place to the other side. You can drop the egg, so don’t think its easy. Once you are at the other side, you have to do an unclasp gesture to set the egg on top of the other bottle. Fortunately you don’t have to worry about balancing it as its automatic. I had no issues with this one either.

Ping Tac Toe – The real challenge has you playing tic tac toe with ping-pong balls and water buckets. The Kinect version is the same thing actually. It does detect your power of your throw, and you can even overthrow the table so it adds some challenge to it. You do have to step left or right to change your lane from left, middle or right as well. I had no issues with this one either.

Egg Roll – The real challenge has you use a pizza box and eggs are placed all over the place. You have to use the pizza box as a fan to roll the eggs to a center area, being the eggs are odd-shaped, they roll all over the place. The Kinect version is pretty much the same thing. You start out with your box, but you have to run over to an egg. You have to be careful though, because if you literally run to an egg, you will smash it and have to run to another one. When you get close to the egg, you want to start walking and then stop and your avatar will re-adjust so you can fan the egg. Then you fan the egg with the box, making the gesture of really fanning it with a pizza box. You can also fan to the left or right to assist with directing the egg to the center. Also be careful if you run in place, you can step on your egg as well. I had no issues with this one.

Super Coin – The real challenge is to bounce a quarter off of a table into a small 5 gallon water jug hole. The Kinect version supersizes your quarter and jug, making it much easier. It’s pretty much exact, you bounce your quarter off the table. This one doesn’t really detect power, but you do have to aim. If you are off by a smidge, you’ll get a rim shot bounce. Then you have to jump at the right time, to shake the jug so it scoops up the quarter. Don’t waste your time on this as it can turn into an infinite bounce mini-game, just let it drop and try your next quarter. I had no issues with this one either.

Nervous Nelly – The real challenge has you strap on 4 pedometers, 2 to your arms and 2 to your legs and you have do the chicken dance and stuff to make them reach a certain number. The Kinect version is similar, however it tells you what it wants, such as your right arm, or your left leg and right arm, or all 4 limbs. It is really sensitive as if you barely move your arm when you aren’t supposed to, you will get negative points. It works well and I had no issues with it. This one can be hilarious as I was doing like a russian dance with my legs while flapping my arms like a chicken, very comical!

Broomski Ball – The real challenge is to bounce a ball off of a broomstick handle and there are 3 baskets lined up in a row to get the ball to drop into, kind of like a skiball game. The Kinect version sucks to be honest, but I think it’s with the aiming. It’s the most challenging one I found out of all of them. There is a super long broom handle on the floor. There are 5 baskets lined up horizontally. The 5 baskets have numbers on them, 3 are +1 and +3. The other 2 are -1. They flash for about 3 seconds, then turn into question marks. You have to remember what ones are positive so you can get points. You then have to aim at those baskets, and flick your wrist in a really odd way like you are throwing overhand but underhand if that makes sense? The majority of the time you will not get into the basket you want, so you get negative points. When you do get it in a basket you want, that basket then turns into -3 so what sucks is if you hit a +1 basket, and then accidentally hit the same basket, you are now back to 0 as your score. It’s just not really a fair challenge. Show 4 requires you to get 28 points. The most I was able to get, even in practice mode was 25. There’s just something really quirky with the aiming. I’m hoping the developers patch this one to make it easier on people, all it really needs is 2 +3 baskets instead of 2 +1 baskets.

Card Ninja – The real game is to fling playing cards into a half cut open watermelon. The Kinect version is similar, except there are 5 of them and they spin around. Each one has a point value, and you only get the points if you throw the card and hit the cut side of the watermelon. It’s more of a cool game than a challenging one, but it is fun. I had no issues with this one.

Shoe Fly Shoe – The real game is to put a shoe on the front of your foot, and launch it and make it land on a table. The Kinect version is pretty similar, except it designates which 1 table out of 3 to land your shoes on. It’s really cool because you can choose left or right foot, but you have to use your foot to choose it, instead of using hands like we are used to. You then have to balance on one foot, and aim with the other. Once you lock in your aim, you then kick your foot and launch it, the majority of the time you will always land them, but it does detect your power and you can under or overshoot it.

Go The Distance – The real game has you use a measuring tape to roll ping-pong balls down it into a bucket. The Kinect version has you using your hands in a steering wheel motion to balance a measuring tape, and you adjust the angle by turning your wheel.  The bucket however changes size and distance so it adds a decent challenge to it. This one worked with no issues.

Bucket Head – The real challenge is you have a bucket strapped to your head, and then you throw a ping-pong ball at a wall and try to catch it in the bucket. The Kinect version is actually the same exact method. You can whip the balls or throw them softly, and then you have to adjust your head not your body to catch them. You can however move left and right as well. It worked really well.

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This is the "Go The Distance" challenge

Those are all the games it has right now. There are more in the show that could definitely be added so we can only hope for more. 20 is a lot but probably after a week, they will get boring.

The Controls

This is what really impressed me. I was really under the impression that Kinect was not precise. Somehow the developers made it precise, particularly you will notice in the pedometer game and the aiming games. As I mentioned in the pedometer game, if you just nudge your arm when you are supposed to moving your feet, it registers and marks negative points for you. Try doing both legs and not moving your arms at all, its next to impossible, but it makes it very fun. Their aiming system is awesome by the way. They invented a new way to aim. The way it works is you hold out whatever arm (or foot for the shoe game) and then keep it straight out towards Kinect. You then move it left or right to where you want it. Once in place, you either lift your arm up or down (your foot you kick back behind you) and this locks your aim. You then release and it goes. It just works beautifully except on the 2 games that I mentioned above where you are farther back. If you need to re-aim, you just unrelease the lock by going back in a straight position. I was really impressed with this aiming system. If you need to move your aim like 2 pixels over on your TV, you can. It is that accurate, really!

Graphics & Sound

The only thing that bugs me about the graphics is the avatars. When Guy talks, his mouth just does random expressions and does not match to the words spoken at all. Your avatar does all kinds of weird facial expressions as well. If we have to use avatars, at least make their mouths match. This was a problem I had with the Wipeout series as well. The sound on the other hand is superb. It does play the new theme song that’s kind of dancy over and over, yet it didn’t annoy me. It’s actually one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head, so I don’t know if that’s a bad or good thing. Also Guy’s voice is spot on and the british girl as well, it sounds very good. The crowd sound could use a little work and it just sounds like a bunch of people talking, but we can’t have it all.

Gameplay Video

Below is a gameplay video I created to give you an idea of how it works. In the main menu, I purposely moved it fast so you can get an idea of how sensitive it is. This is the “Shoe Fly Shoe” game that I provided the details above. It is a little quirky and doesn’t always work perfectly as you can see in the video, however you must also keep your leg raised up in order to aim, when you bring your leg down, it locks in the aim and if you move your leg to fast, you will automatically kick as I show when the 2 shoes land on top of each other and I score -1. It’s not perfect by all means, but it does work. Also I have no idea why the blue print voice has a major volume increase, as I didn’t edit the volume at all, so I apologize for the loudness, it is not like that when you play the game either.

Conclusion

I was astonished at how in-depth this game was. Usually game show games are basic, you play the game the way it’s played on TV and that’s it. There is much more additional content in this game and it is very welcomed! I think the 20 different challenges help as well because it didn’t get boring to me, but after a week it may. As long as the developers don’t sleep on it (I really don’t think they will), all they need to do is patch the few challenge issues and release some DLC and this game has the potential to score even higher. Please note that when we rate games, we rate them compared to games in their genre. Obviously you can hardly compare this Kinect game to Dance Central or Forza 4, but in the game show category it’s a good title compared to Hole In The Wall and Wipeout 1 and Wipeout 2 for example.

This is one of those titles that is good for all ages as well, young ones can have fun as well as the adults and even with really young ones, all you have to do is explain to them what to do or have them watch you and they will catch on. The games have a mixture of easy controls to difficult controls and in the other game modes, you can choose which challenges to play. The best thing I have to say about this game, is if you want to challenge yourself in real life, you can use any household items and re-create these challenges and try them out in your house! Not to many games I can recall let you play for real.

NBC went with Zoo Games as the publisher and Zoo games used SDP which developed Dance Paradise, I get the feeling they didn’t want a repeat of Dance Paradise so they spent some time with this game, and it was a smart choice. Honestly, I don’t know if Ubisoft’s 2 game show games (Price is Right and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) are going to be able to compete, maybe because they are different styles of game shows or what not, or if Ubisoft is going to drop the ball like they have been and only remain focus on their major titles, we’ll be sure to find out in the next couple of weeks!


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Minute To Win It
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?