Reviewed: November 24, 2006
Released: November 14, 2006
Over the Hedge: Hammy Goes Nuts! is a handheld-only game inspired by those loveable woodland creatures forcibly relocated by “civilization”. The NDS version of this game was released a few weeks ago and if you read that review you’ll know I was less than impressed. Thankfully, the PSP version manages to return our loveable cast back to their console-style gameplay, even if it is shrunk down to fit Sony’s handheld system.
The story hasn’t changed much from the NDS. Hammy is watching TV when the cable goes out. He quickly learns that the guy he was stealing his cable from has switched to a satellite system, so now he must regroup his woodland forces and enlist the aid of some new friends in order to sabotage the new satellite and force the Tool Guy into going back to cable.
Hammy Goes Nuts is your typical 3D adventure game allowing you to explore and interact with familiar and plenty of all-new locations not seen in the movies. Much like the console game, you’ll be sneaking through backyards and human homes, usually protected by all sorts of high-tech traps and gadgets.
Control is pretty slick with smooth analog movement, rotational camera control with the triggers, and all sorts of cool character-specific moves like jumps, attacks, dragging, and special attacks and combos. You’ll also gather lots of items like food and other objects that you can use to solve puzzles.
You’ll start off as RJ who can use his golf club, boomerang and fishing pole to accomplish his mission objectives then switch off to Hammy who has the unique ability to drink cola then go into a hyperactive state known as “Hammy Time”. This slows things down allowing Hammy to slip past laser traps and even bounce across water.
Vern (the turtle) has a special shell attack or can just hide in his shell if things get too dangerous. You’ll also hook up with a new character, Boris the Beaver, the brains behind the operation to get your cable restored, all the while facing dangerous cats, rats, Chihuahuas and even hamsters (inside plastic balls) who generate and use static electricity from the carpets.
As you explore the levels you’ll collect all sorts of items like gold and silver acorns used to unlock bonus material, food for health, cola for Hammy Time, and even random food items during timed sequences where you race to collect boxes of food and deposit them in the wagon.
The solo story mode is fairly straightforward. Boris gives you a set of objectives, usually requiring you to locate and use objects, defeat enemies and slip past traps. It’s all standard action-adventure fare and great fun. It might not have all the glitz as the console version but it’s impressive for the PSP.
There is also a great multiplayer component (ad hoc only) that supports up to four players and even Game Sharing. There are five game modes and eight arenas (two need to be unlocked in the story mode) that will challenge young and old alike. These multiplayer games are timed and simply require you to earn the highest score to win.
Heist mode is a race to collect and deposit the most food while Tag mode is the same thing only one player is “it” and cannot collect food until they tag another player. Basket Tag puts a single basket in the level and only the person carrying that basket can collect food. If you tag the player with the basket before they deposit their food you can steal their food.
Hedgeball and Hedgeball Faceoff are the final two multiplayer modes. The first is a race to collect as much food as you can and deposit in your color-coded drop zone, while the latter requires you to drop off food in your opponents colored area earning you two points and deducting one from their score.
There are a dozen power-ups that will make these multiplayer games even more insane. Some are basic like speeding up or slowing down you or your opponent while other like the confusion will reverse the controls of anyone who gets too close. You can stun your opponent with a stink bomb or teleport somewhere else in the level.
Hammy Goes Nuts looks great. Character design is excellent with nice modeling, textures, and smooth and often humorous animation for all of the characters. I’d stack this up with the PS2 version of the game, even if the game design is different. The levels are colorful and suitably complex enough to hide items and create challenging puzzles. The camera works well and you can rotate freely as needed. You can even switch to a first-person view to scan entire rooms for important items.
The game does a good job of incorporating mini-cutscenes to show you what lies ahead and the location of important items. There are also some really fun movies that use game-engine graphics to tell the story between the missions. This really is a mini-console game.
Much like the console game, the PSP features a great spoken script with some reasonably convincing sound-alikes. Obviously, the game and the story is targeted towards kids so the dialogue gets a bit campy at times, but if you have any sense of humor you’ll enjoy this game.
The music is a blend of stealth themes and standard action music that fit the mood of any given situation in the game. Since you are often sneaking around people’s homes and stealing food and sabotaging equipment there is an underlying sense of tension and suspense that is enhanced with the music.
The story mode will take most gamers around 7-10 hours to finish, possibly more if you are dedicated to finding all those hidden acorns, and some are extremely well hidden. There is plenty of bonus material you can unlock in the menus if you find enough of these acorns.
The multiplayer modes will offer even more hours of fun but the game sharing is limited to just a fraction of the content so you’ll need to find others with their own copy of the game if you want to experience the full potential of the wireless link modes.
Over the Hedge: Hammy Goes Nuts! isn’t as complex as the console version but its exponentially better than the NDS version and an overall fun action title that will delight kids and possibly even older teens and adults. The mix of action and stealth is just right and the puzzles are intuitive and even a bit challenging at times.
The multiplayer modes are a great bonus and the game sharing will hopefully tempt your friends into getting their own copy so you can explore the rest of the multiplayer content. It’s definitely worth checking out if you loved the movie or just enjoy a fun animated adventure.