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Over The Hedge

Score: 78%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Single-Card Multiplayer)
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:

RJ, Verne, Hammy and the rest of the crazy critters from Over the Hedge return in another adventure taking place sometime after the film. As you would expect, you will be guiding the gang of animals through various houses and yards in an attempt to gather foods and other essentials while avoiding traps, humans and their pets.

Over the Hedge looks about as good as you can expect on a DS. The textures and models look like a really good N64 title, in other words slightly pixelated but overall good. Cut-scenes come in two flavors, fully pre-rendered movies with fairly good voice acting and still images with a lot of reading. Either way, they do a good job of pushing the story along, though the movies are, naturally, a bit more enjoyable. The game also uses the two screens fairly well. Not only does the top screen show off the the turtle's eye-view of the world you are scurrying around in, but the bottom screen gives you a top-down, bird's eye-view. Done similar to the bottom screen of Mario 64 for the DS, except in 3D, this bottom screen made it easy to sneak around prowling cats and dogs.

As I said above, the voice acting is fairly dead on. Though they are not the all-star-cast from the film, the actors do fairly good imitations, but the only place those voices show up are in the movies. Other sound effects, like dogs barking, cats growling, etc., are okay but sound just a bit too fake.


Gladys Sharp has returned to the neighborhood and she plans to plow down the gang's last haven to put in a pool. Now the Over the Hedge critters have to save their small patch of wilderness and RJ has a plan. RJ hopes to convince several endangered species to move into the log with the rest of the group. With the area becoming protected, Mrs. Sharp can't get rid of their home.

Throughout the game, you will play as RJ, Verne and Hammy as you not only try to collect food, but also the various equipment that certain animals want to have in order to keep them around. For instance, the black-footed ferret will move his store into the woods as long as the gang can get him a scale, calculator, catalog, cowbell and abacus. With each mission you complete, you get one step closer to getting more endangered animals into your woods and one step closer to being safe again.

Missions will require one or two of the characters to be out on the field. Each character you have in play acts as a life -- if a character gets knocked out (either by a trap or an animal) then you will switch to the other character. You can snap the former character out of his daze by walking up to them and tapping them, or by tapping the mic icon and blowing into the microphone. If they are within earshot, then the other character will awaken.

The mic also acts as a way to distract dogs. If one is prowling about and you need to slip past him -- just blow into the device and he will run away. The gang will also find several items (like catnip, stinky cheese and banana peels) lying about that will help get them to their goal.

Over the Hedge also features a multi-player mini-game called "Capture the Food". In this game, you and your buddy run around a hedge maze foraging for food, and the person who can bring the most food back to their collection area will win the match. This was an okay mini-game, but ultimately it felt tacked on. Thankfully, it doesn't require that you find someone with another copy of the game to play -- just someone with a DS.


Over the Hedge has a fairly even difficulty setting. The game never really gets hard and you can always complete a mission with one or two tries. The most difficult part of Over the Hedge comes during the few times when you aren't really sure what you are supposed to do next and you start running in circles.

For instance, the first real mission of the game has you tracking down the various required items for the ferret to move into the woods. The first mission from that group I chose was to find the scale, which was on top of a kitchen counter. I got stumped for a few minutes in that level because I couldn't get past a gas trap and I couldn't find the switch that turned it off. Well, it turns out that switch was down the hall and in the living room. These moments didn't happen too frequently, but when they did it was an obvious attempt to put your characters in just a little bit more danger.

Game Mechanics:

Over the Hedge's control scheme is fairly simple. You move your characters around the world with the D-Pad and the B button lets you jump. The Y button is how you pick up objects, like large foods, and pressing it again lets you throw whatever you have in your hands. The X button lets you perform your character's special ability, like Verne being able to shove some objects around so that he and the other playable characters can get to hard to reach places and switches.

If you've picked up a gadget (like the aforementioned catnip or cheese) then you can use it with the A button and cycle through your collected items with the R button. Again, it is a simple scheme that will allow pretty much anyone to be able to pick up this game and play.

So is Over the Hedge a good game? Should you buy it? It is one of the better movie-license games to come out in a long time and people looking for a new title on their DS should check this one out -- if you like 3D platformers, that is.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Sony PlayStation 2 Steambot Chronicles Nintendo GameCube Over The Hedge

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated