As far as licensed games go, this one’s not so bad.
For some reason or another, our cinema is being bombarded with CG animated movies featuring talking animals. I suppose it has something to do with the relative ease of creating caricatured animals as opposed to realistic humans and the lowered expectations of viewers contained therein, but there could be other explanations for this zoophilic movie pandemic. One of the side effects, however, is licensed games based on said movies, and the utter horror that usually accompanies them. However, while the GameCube version of Over The Hedge may have its issues, I don’t believe this game will give players the bubonic plague upon startup.
Over The Hedge is a DreamWorks computer animated film. If you want to know the plot, go see the movie. Really, I’m not going to watch your movies for you. But in essence, it is about a group of animals breaking into the suburbs to steal food from the humans who live there, and the humans' attempts to exterminate them all. Going deeper reveals something about immigration and nationalism and something like that, but this is neither the time nor place.
If you played Shrek 2 on any console, you will notice the similarities right away. The game is basically the same, minus the 4-player support. In this main mode, you will do the same things you usually do in these types of games. That is, fight wave after wave of enemies until there are no more and then search for a door that opened because of your domestic violence. And that’s it. However, dispersed throughout Over the Hedge are tiny minigames that pop up every now and then in order to keep things from being too monotonous. One such involves this hyperactive chipmunk named Hammy pressing buttons on a control panel as they light up. Another features tossing food into the animal’s wagon for transport back uh… Over the Hedge. It does help quash the same-y feeling, but not for very long. After that, the game degrades into the same boring thing Shrek 2 did, although not as badly this time.
By now I’m sure you are wondering if there is anything exceptional in this game. The answer is yes, actually. During my course of play I unlocked a minigame called BumperCarts. There are two other minigames: a golf… thing where you destroy pots and other such assorted products, and a kart race, but they aren’t fun in the least and get old quickly. BumperCarts, however is a blast. The goal is to ram your golf cart into your opponents until their carts cease functioning from all the impact. It didn’t seem like much at first, but then I found myself slightly addicted to it. I played it for an hour straight once I unlocked it. Then I saw where there were more arenas for BumperCarts, and I had to unlock them by playing the main game. And there I found my drive to play the main mode further.
Is it a trend to that some of these licensed games poke fun at standard game conventions? In the Steam Train level, after a harrowing segment of platforming, RJ looks ahead and sees moving stacks of lumber and says, “Finally, a moving platform to jump to. For a second, I was worried."
As for the sundry aspects of the game, the graphics are smooth, and a 60 frames-per-second is held up most of the time. That Havok logo on the back isn’t there for show. You will see some good physics in Over the Hedge. Just not on a grand scale like you might expect (it’s basically for the crates you destroy.) The music actually surprised me with how good it is, although it suffers from that looped movie clip syndrome that usually happens in movie-licensed games that use music from the movie. There is a boatload of stuff to unlock, such as concept art and selections from the comic strip the movie is based on.
While definitely not the sort of game that makes you spaz when you hear about it, Over the Hedge does deliver on the goal of all movie games. That is, to not be a complete pile of garbage. It does have its issues, but at least it doesn't suffer the fate of Shrek 2.