Or: How hedgehogs can turn the term "board game" into a double entendre.
What makes a good old-fashioned board game fun? Is it a clever game construction that mixes in strategy with luck, or simply the joy of gathering around with friends or family, collectively anticipating the next roll of the dice? Whatever it is, Hurry Up Hedgehog! fails to capture this fun factor on DS, and does little to utilise the platform in order to compensate for the game's considerable shortcomings as electronic entertainment.
Based on the board game Igel Ärgern, Hurry Up Hedgehog! can be played by up to six people (or AI opponents) on a 6x9 grid that has each person attempting to manoeuvre three of their four hedgehogs to the finishing column in order to claim victory. A lane (i.e. row on the grid) is selected at the beginning of each turn, along which one hedgehog (whether it belongs to the player or not) must be moved forward. In the same turn, players can also shift one of his or her own hedgehogs one space vertically from anywhere on the grid in order to place them on a more favourable path.
With pit squares (one blank space per lane that holds a hedgehog until all others have passed it) and an assortment of rule set variants, there is potential for strategic thinking along with a certain amount of gameplay variety, but in reality both are quite limited. On the whole, the original game design is solid but hardly presents anything we haven't seen before in the genre (the board game itself is nearly two decades old), and sorely lacks the dynamism of the games most DS users are accustomed to.
The publishers proclaim that employing all the different takes on the games' rules can yield thirty-two different ways to play the game, but few (if any) of these will feel especially different from one another. The most significant variation amongst these combinations is whether the lane selection is at the discretion of the player or is randomly selected (in place of rolling dice). Allowing players to have total control over which hedgehog to move forward may seem like it creates a more strategic game, but it removes the element of calculated risk present in the random selection mode, and some of the traditional board game fun that comes with it. There are also six boards available to choose from, but their differences in both layout and artwork are trivial. In the absence of more varied modes or separate mini-games, any retail software containing only a single board game constitutes a very serious dearth of content.
Unsurprisingly, Hurry Up Hedgehog!'s presentation is sparse and uninteresting. The menus are somewhat unclear, relying on pictograms for navigation and option selection rather than the more direct instruction offered by the use of simple text. The game board graphics on the lower screen are very basic. On the upper screen, the scoreboard can be seen along with a few cartoon hedgehog animations corresponding to the status of the player currently taking their turn. These characters can't help but feel rather disconnected from the discs on the game board, and lack a charming personality of their own.
The sound design is perhaps the weakest element in Hurry Up Hedgehog!'s desolate presentation. There is almost no music present in the game at all, not even fanfare when someone emerges victorious. The sound effects of the hedgehogs fail to reconcile the inanimate game board discs with their cartoon counterparts, only succeeding in becoming mildly irritating when turns are taken in quick succession.
Moving the hedgehogs around on the game board is performed with the use of the stylus on the touch screen. Once you have decided which hedgehog to move, tapping it will show which squares it can be moved to, and then tapping one of those squares will move the hedgehog to the desired destination. This control scheme is functionally sound, and is certainly better suited to the board game format than a traditional D-Pad-and-buttons setup would have been.
Obviously, multiplayer is the focus of Hurry Up Hedgehog!. As a digital version of a board game, there's no need to have wireless communication between multiple DS units to facilitate multiplayer competition here (a single console can simply be passed around with each turn), but should anyone have a friend with another copy of the game, multi-card play is available. AI opponents can be added to fill out the roster of six competitors, but in this scenario much of your time is spent watching the AI take its turns. Also, higher numbers of players clutter the game board to the extent that there will be several turns during which no moves can be made at all, or there's only one choice to make, making the game a tedious procession for extended periods.
Having a few friends to play with is definitely the best case scenario, but even though you won't have to convince them to buy a DS or a copy of the game to join in, simply getting them to participate at all may well prove to be a hard sell. Aside from the convenience of modifying the rule set and avoiding the necessity of clearing space on a flat surface, Hurry Up Hedgehog!'s existence on DS does nothing to enhance the appeal of its source material. Indeed, the absence of physical dice rolling and being gathered around a game board with friends rather diminishes the fun to be had here. Ultimately, developers Ivolgamus have not made a persuasive case for this game’s translation to DS, and with many other more entertaining, interesting, or just plain pertinent alternative purchases, Hurry Up Hedgehog! simply isn’t worth your time.