Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Over the Hedge™

Over the Hedge™

Fall 2006 Video Games
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Activision, Inc.
Price: $39.99
Gaming System: PlayStation2
Based on the 2006 animated DreamWorks movie of the same name, this action/adventure platform game features pesky, wise-guy, woodland creatures (such as RJ the raccoon, Verne the turtle and Hammy the squirrel) who head out on 3D missions through "the hedge" to steal food and gather gadgets from suburbia. By the end, they even have to rescue a compadre from arch-enemy Dwayne the Exterminator.

While the game play is better than average, with 30-plus missions and a two-player design (three levels of difficulty) that challenge kids to use problem-solving logic, this is, alas, a platform game so it has some of the ho-hum predictability all platform games have—especially after the fun of the animation wears off and the gaming gets a bit repetitive. You know, overcoming obstacles, battling off bad guys (in this case with hockey sticks, golf clubs, baseball bats, etc.), and solving each challenge and level to get to the next. There are some eye-opening moments, including rollicking through the hedge while avoiding cattle-prodders and racing down the street dodging traffic. Not bad. And mini-games such as gathering gourmet tidbits and shooting at the shooting galleries help distract from some of the same-old game stuff.

Note to parents: There is animated violence (it's rated E 10+, meaning appropriate for everyone age 10 and older) but the fighting never leaves roadkill behind. Instead, defeated bad guys just disappear—no blood, no fuss—and our hedgy heroes see stars swirling around their heads for a few seconds before they're up and on their way again. And the wiseacre remarks? Nothing worse than what your kids heard in the movie—all of which is pretty standard stuff these days.

So think "Tomb Raider" in the animal world, but don't expect a lot of replay value once players work their way through the backyards of each level.

Don Oldenburg   ©2006 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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