Saturday, May 7, 2011

Video game based on 'Hop' movie misses target audience

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Most childrens movies have an accompanying video game, and Hop: The Movie Game is the newest, offered exclusively on the Nintendo DS.

  • Gannett

    "Hop: The Movie Game" for Nintendo DS ties into a movie targeted to children ages 5 and older, but is a shooter game far more violent than the movie.


"Hop: The Movie Game" for Nintendo DS ties into a movie targeted to children ages 5 and older, but is a shooter game far more violent than the movie.

The target audience for the Hop movie is kids 5 and older, but this video game isnt age appropriate for the youngest portion of that demographic. Why? Its a lot more violent than the movie. Its a shooter, masquerading as a game with Candy Gadgets that supposedly shoot gumballs, marshmallows, cotton candy and chocolate, but which are powerful enough to take out gun-turrets, bunnies, dogs and chicks.

The movie tells the story of E.B., the son of the Easter Bunny, who doesnt want to take over the family business, so he runs away to Hollywood to follow his dream of becoming a famous drummer. While in Hollywood, E.B. gets hit by a car driven by a human named Fred, and a friendship ensues. The two become heroes after they quell a coup detat led by the Easter Bunnys second in command, Carlos the Chick. While tranquilizer blow-darts, slapstick kicks and hits, and two incidents of spraying of characters with chocolate and another sticky candy to inhibit their movements occur in the movie, guns and shooting do not appear. And yet, in this game, based on the movie, guns are front and center.

Hop: The Movie Game takes place in four locations found in the movie, including locations in Hollywood and the candy factory on Easter Island. Each location features five adventure levels with five mini-games interspersed between them.

The adventure levels are shown from a top-down perspective and look like a maze. The object of each is to navigate the maze while collecting jellybeans (the currency in the game), avoiding shots by shooting machines and enemies and figuring out how to trigger switches and doors so that you can reach the exit point.

In each of these adventure levels, you control Fred, who is carrying a gun. Some rooms you enter are strewn with jellybeans for you to collect and crates and barrels for you to shoot open. These contain other candies, including some that can be used as bullets, explosive devices and projectiles. But many rooms are filled with a variety of shooting machines and enemies -- bunnies, chicks, and others -- that are shooting at you, as well as sharp flying discs and toxic green vapor that you have to avoid.

The easiest way to dispatch enemies and disable shooting machinery is to shoot back. Most enemies will take several hits before they fall back and then disappear in a puff of smoke, usually leaving you something helpful to collect. As you progress, youll find new and more powerful guns, and you will need to rotate among them depending on your obstacle or enemy. Many obstacles are color-coded so that you will know to rotate to the gun that matches the color of the object that you want to blow up. The various guns shoot candies or a stream of chocolate, but the candies look like bullets. The chocolate appears as a stream of brown goo and turns anything it hits into chocolate candies that Fred can eat. You must also figure out how to trigger switches and buttons to open up new areas, and to navigate moving platforms.

As you play through these adventure levels on the bottom screen, your health is depicted on the top screen as a chocolate man. Disturbingly, as you get hit by enemies, your chocolate man loses parts of his body, as if he has been eaten or broken off. When you lose all of your chocolate man, Fred stops moving in the bottom screen and leans over. He then reappears at your last save point with a new fully-shaped chocolate man on the top screen.

Between each adventure level is one of five mini-games. One is a Whack-a-Mole knockoff about tapping Pink Beret bunnies as they try to come out of Easter Island portals. Another game involves bowling with a jawbreaker candy to knock down a group of chicks. Another is a simple catch game, where candies fall from the sky. The best one is a hidden picture game about finding Easter eggs. Also good is a music rhythm game about tapping a drum set at just the right time.

But Hop: The Movie Game just doesnt do this license justice. Its unnecessarily full of inappropriate violence for the group of kids likely to play it. Dont be fooled into thinking that a weapon which shoots marshmallows is a piece of fluff -- in this game, it is a gun that destroys. Likewise, the game turns Easter eggs into grenades that explode destroying groups of enemies by turning them into chocolate. The vibe is wrong in this game, where treasured Easter holiday items become weapons of destruction. Skip this game for kids ages five to seven. Some 8- to 10-year-olds might like it, if their parents are OK with a game heavily steeped in sugar-coated violence.

Score: 1.5 stars (out of 4)

Rating: E (with cartoon violence)

Best for ages 8-10

Publisher: 505 Games,

Platform: Nintendo DS

Price: $29.99

Gudmundsen is the editor of Computing With Kids ( magazine. Contact her at


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