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Subject: Hula Hippos - A Light Review rss

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All of my 'Light Reviews' aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them, the options involved and general flow of play.

Summary

Game Type - Dexterity Game
Play Time: 10-20 minutes
Number of Players: 2-4
Mechanics - Finger Flickin' Goodness
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in under 10 minutes)
Components - Excellent


Image Courtesy of pdclose

Overview

Hula Hippos is a scaled down, light version of Crokinole coupled with a cute theme and artwork to help appeal to kids and families. Ok this isn't totally true, but the two games share a disc flicking element.

It certainly works on this level and whilst it can be enjoyed by adults as much as the little ones, it may actually be too tough for the young'uns.

It should also be noted that Hula Hippos is the title of the Gamewright release, which is based on the original German release of 'Mouse in the House' (or the English translation anyway). The two versions are very similar but the German version had mice that were not uniform in shape (the mice had a different shape and sized head when compared to the body).

The Hippo Discs in Hula Hippos are almost circular, which gives them a truer trajectory when they are flicked.

The Components

Dexterity Games like their abstract cousin's work best when the components are kept to a minimum. Hula Hippos meets this criteria.

d10-1 The Wooden Ring - This is the Hula Hope (stick with me on the theme here folks) and it is 10.5 cms in diameter. It is made of lovely wood and adds to the games tactile feel.


Image Courtesy of pdclose

A Comparison of the Components from both versions

d10-2 The Hippos - Then there are the hippos which are almost circular and measure in at 2cms across. They come in four different colours (blue, green, pink and yellow) for the 4 players. They are nice and vibrant to suit the age level the game is targeted at and each player receives 6.


Image Courtesy of pdclose

d10-3 Rules - These are as simple as they come - highlighted by the minimal nature of my next section on game play.

d10-4 The Box - The box is probably larger than it needs to be but that isn't why I've bothered to include it. No, I've included it because this would have to be the tightest game box I have ever encountered (let's keep this G-rated folks). I mean you box fart fans can forget it here as Gamewright have not allowed any air to get between the box lid and bottom. I've had an easier time wrestling crocodiles in my lunch break (which all Aussies do by the way) than I did trying to open this damn box. In the end it took 3 people and a co-ordinated effort to pry the thing open.

Thankfully it gets a little better by the 5th and 6th opening but geez, the factory must have got a dimension or two wrong on this one.


Image Courtesy of William Hunt

The Game Play

The aim of the game is to be the first to get 4 of your hippos into the hoop (wooden ring). It sounds easy but think again.

d10-1 Ready... - Each player takes their 6 hippos and lines them up in a line, ready to be flicked.

d10-2 ...Setty... - Any player then takes the wooden ring (Hula Hoop remember) and holds the top edge and spins it. Of course the ring should be spun roughly in the center of all the players to make the game fair. Some movement is bound to occur though.

d10-3 ...Go! - All the players are then able to flick each of their hippo discs towards the ring. The players are in a race of sorts but the only real time restriction is that discs can no longer be flicked once the ring has fallen and rests on the table.

d10-4 Success! - Any discs that come to rest inside the ring, or sit under the ring (the ring fell on top of them) constitute great shots. These are removed from play and they player must play the remainder of the game with the hippos they have left.


Image Courtesy of Rick Redfern

The Game in Action - Although blue looks to be flicking from too close a distance for my liking.

d10-5 New Round and Winning - A new round can begin once all the players have again set up their remaining hippos in a line and the ring is spun. It is that simple.

The winner is the 1st player to successfully get their 4th hippo in or under the ring. Should 2 players achieve this feat in the same round, then a showdown is required and those players play further rounds until 1 player manages to get a hippo in the ring (golden goal hippo), or more than their opponent should they both get 1 more hippo into the ring.

The game also throws up the option to vary the play by increasing or decreasing the number of hippos needed to win.

d10-6 The Challenge - Whilst the whole premise seems simple enough, this is a really tough little dexterity game. The spinning hoop is a challenge in itself as its spinning motion can easily repel the lightweight hippo discs away from the target zone when the two come into contact. Then there is the problem of having rival discs knocking yours away as they fly in from the opposite direction. You may well have a disc in prime position and someone else knocks it out!

Then there is the problem of the ring falling down and hitting discs on their edge, which tends to knock them clear of the ring's circumference.

It is not uncommon to see 2-3 rounds go past without a successful shot. Thankfully the time taken for each round is minimal (45-60 seconds).

The Final Word

Hula Hippos is a good game but not a great one. It certainly scratches that dexterity each to a degree and can be a lot of fun with the right people. It only costs a fraction of the price required for a Crokinole, Pitchcar or a Tumblin' Dice, and despite the difficulty, it still takes less time to play than those other options.

But I would still prefer to play one of those other dexterity games over Hula Hippos if given the opportunity.

My other concern here is that the game is just too hard for the target audience it is aimed at. The box states 5+ and I have seen my boys aged 5-9 get pretty frustrated at times with the difficulty factor. I had one all adult session and it took us 15 minutes to find a winner. So I stress caution if that is your reason for picking this one up.

Links to other Reviews on Children's Games

d10-1 Knuckling Knights

d10-2 Monza

d10-3 Double Shutter Junior

d10-4 Viva Topo!

d10-5 Whirlpool

d10-6 Giro Galoppo
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