Top Hand Rodeo Tour is all about effort. You can immediately tell that SFC Rodeo Games really put in a solid effort into making a Kinect game that put you in the saddle and allow you to experience what it’s really like to take the reins to earn the title “Top Hand.”
There are five main events in Top Hand Rodeo Tour: Barrel Racing, Bull Riding, Mounted Shooting, Team Roping and Tie Down Roping. Though many of the challenges incorporate similar Kinect movements, like riding a horse, each event focuses on particular movements to highlight the event. For example, bull riding uses a back and forth motion that mimics a rhythm game and mounted shooting is a combination of horse control and using your finger-wielding six-shooter. There are also a few mini-games as well as leaderboards to compare your abilities with your friends.
SFC Rodeo Games really hits the mark on the necessary movements in Top Hand Rodeo Tour. From raising your arm in bull riding to throwing your lasso in tie down roping, you really get the feeling of being live in the event. They also did a good job on the animations, especially in the bull riding event. The speed of the animations and the camera placement make the eight-second event feel intense without it passing by too quickly.
Unfortunately, where Top Hand Rodeo Tour hits a wall is in the same place so many other Kinect games falter – in the human-to-Kinect-to-game interface. While the movements themselves are brilliant, the Kinect struggles with recognizing some of the movements. On top of that, some movements are so sensitive that it ruins certain aspects of the game play. This is most evident in the actual riding of a horse. Often I found myself going in ridiculous directions or had the camera spin around me. It becomes absolutely frustrating because all but one of the events in Top Hand Rodeo Tour are time-based events, and to get a gold buckle, you cannot spend time trying to get the horse to go in the proper direction. It was the roughest part of the game. Take a look at the beginning of my gameplay video to see the difficulties in action.
My other major problem is that the game is very shallow. You have more choices of horses (nine) than you do cowpokes (eight – four men, four women). I don’t know if SFC Rodeo Games was under a tight deadline by their publisher or Walmart (Top Hand Rodeo Tour is a Walmart exclusive), but other than the five events, the rest of the game’s features feel tacked on. Sadly, there just isn’t a lot of incentive to keep playing.
Overall, Top Hand Rodeo Tour is a game that obviously has a lot of heart, but is severely hampered by the Kinect’s interface and sensitivity. I really wanted to like this game, but my frustration far outweighed any pockets of fun I did have. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend you picking up this game, even at the discounted price of $39.96 at Walmart.
Top Hand Rodeo Trailer
Top Hand Rodeo Gameplay Commentary