Hop Til You Drop (Second Chance with the Chick)

I wasn’t very nice to Hop Til You Drop when I briefly covered it a couple of weeks ago.  It’s a twitchy single-screen punisher that involves dodging random hazards the game spits at you.  I immediately grasped what the game’s schtick would be and thought “this could be addictive.”  But then I died and found out that replaying the game meant going through a seemingly endless series of menus.  After just a couple more plays, I decided my time would better be spent brow beating the developer for being such a dummy.  My hopes were that he would fix his game.  He did.  Good thing too, because SWAT was closing in on my house.  I admit, taking his family hostage might have been going too far, but at Indie Gamer Chick, we like to take that extra step towards improving the game industry.

None of these screens will make sense. Just look at Aaron the Splazer's video at the end of this review.

None of these screens will make sense. Just look at Aaron the Splazer’s video at the end of this review.

A lot of developers seem to take my advice on aspects of game design, which I have to say is more fucking cool than you can imagine.  But a lot of the advice I give them is stuff that they should have come up with on their own.  In that spirit, I’m going to offer makers of punishers the biggest no-brainer advice you’ll ever get.

Make your game addictive.

Sure, addictive gameplay varies from person to person.  But there are steps you can take to maximum the potency of a game’s addictive potential.  It all boils down to the speed and downtime.  If you’re making a game where players will die a lot, keep the time between death and rebirth at a minimum.  Look at some of the most successful punishers in recent years.  In Super Meat Boy, when you die, BAM, you’re back to life.  It’s a game that could offer a lot of frustration, but because the game skips theatrics and bullshit in favor of gameplay, you don’t notice it.  Who has time to be frustrated when that giant saw you’ve been trying to jump over for the last ten minutes is right fucking there?  Spelunky did this too.  When you die in it, restarting the game is done with a single button press.  The lack of downtime is what gives those games their hypnotic “just one more try” quality.

Now imagine if Super Meat Boy’s failures resulted in theatrical death animations followed by a menu.  It would have been relegated to gaming purgatory.  Nobody would remember it today.  Super Meat Boy is famous for many things.  It’s art style, historical gaming references, and challenge.  But its success probably hinged on how accessible it was.  It’s a game that wanted to be played, and so it cut the bullshit out.  Gameplay was continuous with minimal interruptions.  This is something all punishers should have.  And yet it’s among the most common things bad punishers have wrong with them.  I know you guys have all played these games.  So how do you miss such an obvious thing?  It’s not about the insane challenge.  It never was.  Those games succeeded because they were addictive.  When a person can lose time to a game and not realize it, that’s a game that is more likely to spread by word-of-mouth.

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In a way, it sucks that I won’t have Hop Til You Drop to point to as the poster child for that particular problem.  But I’m happy this simple problem was fixed.  Now, the game is genuinely fun.  Controls might be a bit too loose, and sometimes the random traps are just plain not fair.  The biggest problem by far with Hop Til You Drop is that it’s on the wrong platform.  It’s the perfect micro-session game, suited more for playing on Vita via PlayStation Mobile.  Because it requires precision movement, I wouldn’t want to play it on a touch device like iPhone.  But on Vita?  This would be the perfect game to bust out on a break.  It doesn’t lend itself well to extended play sessions, which is what a platform like XBLIG is better suited for.

But fun is fun, and Hop Til You Drop is fun.  There’s even a couple nifty new additions like bullet-time effects that kick in when you have a close call with an enemy.  Or a moderately amusing time attack mode.  So I do recommend Hop Til You Drop.  It won’t have a lasting effect on you.  Without online leaderboards, there won’t be a lot to keep you coming back.  But it’s a worthy waste of a dollar and probably fifteen to thirty minutes on your Xbox.  Congratulations go out to Chris Outen for saving his game.  By the way, your mother’s pinky finger should arrive by Fed-Ex tomorrow.

xboxboxartHop Til You Drop was developed by Chris Outen

IGC_Approved80 Microsoft Points said this game was one “S” away from being a video game version of a gameshow I watched as a kid in the making of this review.  Though I usually only watched it because I was too lazy to change the channel after Supermarket Sweep. 

Hop Til You Drop is Chick Approved and Ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  On July 1, the Leaderboard will go multi-platform to include indies from all consoles and handhelds. 

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

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