Ho, ho, ho! Plenty of zany fun here. I'll be bound! Any game called Hopping Mad must be the sort of whacky, oddball bit of craziness guaranteed to have you rolling about with mirth as you join in the merry fun!
Well, no, actually. Hopping Mad is one of those games that try so hard to be whacky, oddball and lovable that they make you want to jump up and down on them and go out and kick a dog.
Not that the gameplay's bad at all. You control some sort of spherical alien being, hippety-hopping through a series of strange landscapes. Behind you bounces a series of identical balloons - you start with four - and the aim is to steer them through each landscape without coming to grief by hitting sundry spiky things.
The bouncing balls are very nicely done, but the background design is dull, consisting of sketchily-drawn trees, shrubs, cacti and so on. The scrolling is none too hot, either. By far the worst bits, though, are the passing obstacles; wearingly flapping birds, wriggly snakes, splodgy little hedgehogs, strange rotating bars and rising balloons.
Collide with any of these, or with the snapping fly-trap plants, and one of your spheres will burst. If it's one of the middle ones, it makes it even more difficult to manoeuvre your remaining balls.
Along the way, you get bonus points for bursting passing balloons (why? aren't you supposed to like the look of them?) or for eating apples. To do this you must leap higher in the air by pressing the fire button.
At certain stages you may be lucky enough to be transported directly to the next level by hitting magic tokens, but things don't get much more interesting; you simply get a wider selection of lizards, bees, and other obstacles, coming at you thicker and faster.
All this would have been perfectly amusing in a budget-priced game; there's plenty of fun to be derived from learning to control the balls, but the sound effects are lousy and there isn't enough variation in the gameplay to make you want to stick with Hopping Mad longer than the hour or two.
which would be par for the course for a budget game. It's all very well trying to put together a flopsy-wopsy cutesy-wutesy game, but it would help if there had been a bit more attention paid to the hard details of gameplay and presentation.
Price: £7.99, £12.99 disc
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Half-hearted attempt at a zany arcade challenge.