This exclusive to Walmart only came out of nowhere so I figured I’d try it out. Here’s a short summary about it:

Top Hand Rodeo Tour is the first authentic Rodeo video game! Hop into the saddle and participate in the most exciting events wrangled from the real world of professional rodeo sports! Up to 4 players can compete in events including Bull Riding, Tie-Down Roping, Mounted Shooting, Team Roping, and Barrel Racing. Players can also try their hand at fanciful and fun mini game modes, such as the Wild West Shooting Gallery or the frenetic Speed Roping contest. Top Hand Rodeo Tour delivers all the thrills of being a professional cowboy competing on the pro rodeo circuit by using the motions, skills, and techniques that cowboys and cowgirls use. Do you have what it takes to become the All-Around Top Hand Champion?

Overview

Unfortunately, it’s basically just a mini-game compilation. It’s fun at first, but then you realize there’s nothing else to do and it’s a wash, rinse, repeat cycle. It’s basic at its best, yet I was amazed the controls work so well. There’s just not a lot of content to the game.

The Menu

The menu is pretty simplified but it’s also a short game, so there’s not a lot here. It consists of 3 main sections, Play Game, Extras and Leaderboards. It uses the hover and lock method and it works. As usual, I’ll break down each.

Play Game

In here, there are 3 different options. Single Event Top Hand, All-Around Top Hand and Minigames. Single Event Top Hand and All-Around Top Hand are essentially the same thing but they unlock the arenas differently. Single Event Top Hand allows you to focus in one event and you can get a gold buckle to unlock the next arena without completing the other events. All-Around Top Hand requires you to get a gold buckle in each event in order to unlock the next event.

As for the scoring goes, most of the events are timed, so you want the best time. You get 3 rounds to complete the event and then it takes your best score. Depending on how well you did, you can earn a bronze, silver or gold buckle. The objective is to earn a gold buckle on everything, but this just gets boring after doing the same events over and over. The only way to unlock the arenas are to get gold buckles on everything, which makes for a tedious game. There are 8 arena’s which I have listed:

  • Ranch Arena
  • County Fair
  • State Fair
  • Lone Star Arena
  • Alamo City Rodeo
  • Far West Arena
  • Longshot Arena
  • Ariat Arena

You do get to choose characters and horses, although there is no difference or bonuses based on what character or horse you use. There are 4 male and 4 female characters and 9 horses in total. As for the events themselves, there are only 5 in either game mode. I did go ahead and break each one down with a video to show you what you’re not missing.

Mounted Shooting

This particular event has you race around some barrels and then shoot 5 balloons. The arcade aspect added was if you shoot all 5 balloons with your six shooter in a row, the 6th shot can be used to shoot a gold horseshoe which gives you a 5 second bonus. The controls work in such that you use your left hand to gallop in an up and down motion, and you steer via left and right. You can also lean into your turn to make tighter turns. When it’s balloon time, you use your right hand and using the “pew-pew” gesture is how you aim and shoot. It actually works pretty decent but only because you don’t have to be 100% accurate. Also in the majority of the events, you have a special called “Spur”, basically stomp your right foot and its a turbo boost. Here’s a video of it in action:

Tie Down Roping

This event has you roping a calf in the fastest time possible. There are a few Kinect gestures in order to do it. First, you have to raise your left hand when you are ready. While holding your hand up, you nod your head and this releases the calf. You then use your left hand again in an up and down motion to gallop and use your right hand in a circle pattern such as swinging a lasso. You then use your right hand to throw the rope, then you have to pull it to stop the calf. Once it’s stopped, you get off your horse and then you have to run in place to get to the calf. Next, you have to flip the calf using a lifting motion. Once it’s flipping, make a wide arm grabbing motion to pull its legs together. Then you make another circle motion as you tie its legs together. Once that’s done, raise your hands up and you lock your time, as long as the calf doesn’t escape. It sounds like a lot but it happens so fast, check the video out below:

Barrel Racing

In this event, you just race around barrels as fast as possible. It’s a little different to control the horse being that you use your right hand to gallop this time, in an up and down motion, and then use your left hand to steer left and right. You can also make tight turns by leaning. Again, you can use your “Spur” boost to make up time as well. It’s pretty basic, here’s a video of it:

Bull Riding

This one is the only different one out of the bunch. You once again raise your left hand and nod your head when ready. You then have to lean frontward and backward in rhythm with a cowbell while keeping your right hand raised like riding a bull. If you start falling off the bull, you can lean left or right to adjust yourself. The bull will kick and you can use your spurs to upright yourself again. As long as you last 8 seconds, you will score points. Here’s another action video:

Team Roping

This one is like the Tie Down Roping event, except there are two of you and you control both riders. The first rider does the normal raise your left hand and nod your head to start. Chase down the calf and rope their horns. Once attached, you have to pull back, and then make a circle motion to tighten the slack, and then turn left so you can give your partner a chance. You then switch to the partner and you basically do the same thing, except tie up the left, tighten up the slack and call it day. Again it seems like a lot, but it’s really short. Here’s another video:

Minigames

The minigames are so so, nothing amazing. There are only 3 but I made a video of these as well so you can get an idea. I’ll explain each as well.

Riding Fences

This one basically combines Mounted Shooting, Tie Down Roping and Barrel Racing in one. You can do them at your own leisure and there are no bonuses or anything. I suppose it’s best used for practice as you can just keep doing it over and over. Here’s a video of it:

Shooting Gallery

This one is an actual mini-game that only allows you to shoot. It does have a little better accuracy than the Mounted Shooting, being that if you just hit the target, you get X amount of points, but if you hit the bullseye you will notice a much larger point award. It’s all target practice, so again, nothing special. Check the video out below:

Speed Roping

This is the other mini-game. You are thrown into an arena with a bunch of calves. All you do is gallop around chasing them and roping as many as you can within a set time limit. All you have to do is rope them and pull back to count it, so it’s fairly easy. Here’s a video of it:

Extras

There’s really not much in here. You can view the Achievements, the Tutorials which kind of make sure you do things right before allowing you to proceed, the Credits and 3 Videos, which are quite lame to be blunt.

Leaderboards

Surprisingly enough, it does have online leaderboards in case that one friend has this game as well. They are broken up into Single Event Top Hand, All-Around Top Hand and Minigame categories.

Multiplayer

There is multiplayer in this but only in the Single Event Top Hand section. You can have from 1-4 players but everyone takes turns. It’s nothing really special as I was able to test it out.

Conclusion

Even though the controls work for the most part and it’s quite authentic, there is just a lot missing from this game. Sure, this game would probably be fine for the Wii, but this is Kinect. It’s way too basic and way to repetitive. What would have this game more interesting is obviously more events for starters, as there are definitely more than 5 events at a Rodeo. Next, throw in a real campaign mode where you can create a custom cowboy/cowgirl and start off as a rookie as you travel around and compete in order to become number one or something. You could even break that down into an experience point system improving attributes such as horse riding, rope handling, and even have horses or whatever, since Fable really gets you bonding with a horse.

Anyway, there’s a lot of ideas that could have made this game good. If you are a Rodeo lover, you may want to try this game, but as it stands, it’s only exclusive at Walmart and it’s definitely not worth the price tag.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Top Hand Rodeo Tour
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