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Playstation 2



Platformer / Action









E (Everyone)



Q2 2006



- While visually not as good as the movie itself, still much-better-than-expected graphics
- Co-op play doubles the fun factor (and may teach kids a thing or two about cooperation)
- Mini-games give players reason to play after completing the story mode



- Ridiculously easy to beat all enemies and complete the game without much resistance
- Takes only about six hours to complete
- Like many movie-licensed games, doesn’t tread into any new action gaming territory



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Over the Hedge

Score: 8.0 / 10


As one of the expected 2006 blockbuster kids’ films, it was a certainty that there would be an Over The Hedge video game to coincide with its theatrical release. That’s seemingly one of the video game industry’s commandments today: “Thou must make games based on major blockbuster movies, especially if it’s a kids’ blockbuster movie.” Unfortunately, most movie-based games turn out rather bad, many times rushed into stores no matter if they’re ready or not, just to be out at the same time as the movie. Fortunately for youngsters that enjoyed Over The Hedge, the game is actually better than the usual movie-based tripe, with a good co-op mode, plenty of variety in the gaming environments you’ll visit, good mini-games that you can unlock, and a chance to experience more of the movie and its cast of characters.


over the hedge          over the hedge

As you begin the game, you’ll revisit the same story of the movie, but only briefly. In the movie, RJ the raccoon must replace the food that he had obliterated (by accidentally pushing it into the path of a speeding truck) which belonged to Vincent the bear, who threatens to eat RJ if he can’t find a suitable amount of food to replace what was lost. RJ stumbles upon a happy little clan of woodland creatures led by Verne the conservative turtle. There’s also a crazy squirrel, a possum pair, a porcupine family of five and Stella the skunk in the extended family. They’ve just discovered that their happy little home is the only remaining woodland patch left in a suburban housing complex, surrounded by a large and ominous hedge.


RJ plots to use the animals to help him steal junk food from the suburban humans living all around them, then steal the food himself to give to Vincent, thereby saving his own hide while leaving the others high and dry without any food stocked for the winter. Naturally, RJ has a change of heart, becomes friends with the creatures and must defeat Vincent and the exterminator brought in to deal with the critters now running amuck in the suburban sprawl.





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In the game, you only get to play through the actual plot of the movie for a few short missions. The rest of the game, which spans 30 levels with destructible environments, forages into new plotlines not related to the movie whatsoever. However, that may be one of the game’s bigger plusses. You’re not stuck replaying the movie throughout the entire time you’re playing the game, instead delving into new locales past Rancho Camelot Estates such as the Western Theme Park with a final “boss” battle against the evil theme park owner or VermTech, the home base of Dwayne the exterminator.



While the game is a pretty standard action game that requires solving puzzles and collecting power-ups (in the form of junk food like nacho chips and pizza) and other items (to unlock the game’s many bonuses, including mini-games), there is a co-op mode, so you don’t have to go it alone in your gaming adventures. The co-op mode actually springs Over The Hedge past the usual movie-based action gaming genre offerings. However, while it certainly is fun with two people playing at the same time, one player can fare quite well throughout the many missions because Over The Hedge is much too easy to defeat.


Unless you’ve been blindfolded and have one hand tied behind your back to ante up the difficulty level, expect to be able to breeze through Over The Hedge in about six hours of gameplay. This game, even if it is geared towards younger gamers who liked the movie, is ridiculously easy to play.


over the hedge         over the hedge

Gameplay basically has you given a set of objectives such as collecting certain items or freeing caught comrades. Your weapons are items you’ll use to batter enemies, like golf clubs or shovels. The enemies are other creatures such as rats, rabbits and badgers who wear mind-control helmets that Dwayne placed on their heads to manipulate them to do his bidding. By using your weapons, you must not only complete the objectives, but also defeat the mind-controlled critters by smacking the helmet off their heads. Might sound a bit daunting, but really, Over The Hedge offers little challenge, even to young gamers.


A saving grace of the short duration of the game is that there are mini-games to unlock, and they are fun enough that whoever played the game will keep on loading the disc into the PS2 simply for the mini-games. There’s a destruction derby-style mini-game using golf carts, a new take on miniature golf, and a RC racing mini-game, all good enough for more gaming fun after all the missions have been completed.


Graphically, Over The Hedge is actually better than expected, with decent character modeling, although don’t expect the visual quality of the movie itself. The glowing particle lighting effects that appear when you swing your weapon of choice at enemies is a nice complement to the overall graphic package. One strangely absent touch is the use of the actual movie actor’s voices for the game. Garry Shandling, Bruce Willis, Wanda Sykes and William Shatner all lent their voices to the movie, but nary a one does voiceover work in the game.


It’s clear Over The Hedge is only intended to be played by the same under-12 crowd that saw the movie, because this is a game that doesn’t come close to challenging the skills of any gamer over that particular age demographic. But there’s a co-op mode, a few different gaming locales to keep the game action from becoming too repetitively stale, a chance for youngsters to experience the world of the characters beyond the movie, and mini-games that will keep gamers playing Over The Hedge even after they’ve completed the story mode. That’s enough to push Over The Hedge, well, over the hedge of the standard movie-licensed kid game that those youngsters that enjoyed the movie will find a good gaming time.


- Lee Cieniawa

(June 15, 2006)

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