In the Over the Hedge video game, kids become woodland creatures and perform death-defying stunts as they explore the dangerous world of suburban America. This game, which plays on Nintendo's GameCube, Sony's PlayStation 2, Microsoft's X-box, or Windows PCs, offers kids a chance to become the stars of the Over the Hedge movie: RJ the raccoon, Verne the turtle, Hammy the squirrel, or Stella the skunk.
The game recreates the world of the movie, but it extends that experience by setting most of the game one year after the movie's ending. As in the movie, a group of undomesticated animal friends sneak through the hedge that separates the suburban world from the wild in search of human food and gadgets. They also need to rescue a friend who is trapped by an exterminator.
In this action-adventure game, kids can play the game in the single-player mode or with a friend in a cooperative mode. Players can seamlessly switch between characters, and a second player can come in and out of the game on the fly. When playing alone, the player's animal is always accompanied by one of the other animals, which the computer controls.
Kids complete over 30 mission-filled levels to win this game. Each mission has clearly delineated primary and secondary goals; but the player need only complete the primary goals to unlock the next level. In all, there are 135 primary goals. Goals may be as simple as collecting food, or as challenging as fighting through a swarm of mind-controlled rats to defeat the Rat King.
Over the Hedge is well crafted for kid playing. It provides three levels of difficulty, including an easy level for younger or inexperienced players. All of the dialogue within the missions is spoken as well as presented with subtitles. Kids can't get lost in the suburban sprawl because the game limits the area for play within each level. At the start of each mission, the game provides a flyby wherein the player zooms over the play area to view all of the objects and destinations.
Players liked that each mission was different. In some, they use logic and hand-eye coordination to jump their way over lasers and up onto hard-to-reach places. In others, they battle traps and gadgets placed by arch nemesis Dwayne the Exterminator. Kids will also collect items, race through the hedge while avoiding the paws of a bear and the prod of the exterminator, and even go over a busy street by opening up a fire hydrant and then riding the water stream across. And there are three fun mini-games to unlock.
The game is rated E10+ for cartoon violence and crude humor. The characters use golf clubs, hockey sticks, ping-pong ball launchers and other similar weapons to fight off mind-controlled animals and wacky destructive gadgets. No one dies; they just fade away or pass out. While the dialogue can be crude, it was not nearly as funny as the movie.
For families looking to extend the Over the Hedge movie experience, this video game provides new characters and locations. It continues the zaniness of the movie with fast-paced action, clever interaction with the human world, and a wide variety of game play.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.