Hop and Pop is a one or two player versus game blends together a falling matching block puzzle with a 2D platformer. The object is to get at least four blocks of the same color touching one another. They don’t have to be in a line or anything. So how do you get them touching? You push them of course. You play as either Hop in red or Pop in blue that can move, jump, push and activate special abilities that you collect. Blocks fall one at a time, but for every level that you make it to, an entire row of blocks falls at once. The colors are all random. If one of the blocks falls on your character, they disappear, because hop and pop are wearing spiked helmets. Popping blocks does add some strategy, because with every new level sending an entire row of blocks, you need to pop at least one.
The controls are easy, the jump is precise if you tap the button. If you hold it, the jump is pretty high and floaty, which allows you to get over towers of blocks in a single bound. So you can easily get around from the left side to the right side with little hassle. When you push one block, it pushes all the others next to it. The blocks on the row above it don’t move, but they will fall if there’s no longer a block underneath of it. You can jump and push blocks in mid air so you have a lot of control over things. The game becomes strategy and problem solving. Pushing row X to get a block to fall off a cliff down to where you need it. If blocks on the side are piling up to the top, you can push blocks off screen where they disappear. This makes it easy to get some of the block towers down, because if any block reaches the top, its a game over for you.
So where’s the challenge if you can just push blocks off screen and essentially never have a game over? What I call mummy blocks will fall in later levels, these mummy blocks cannot get pushed, so if they’re in a row and you’re eight blocks to the right trying to push to the left, the row won’t move if they’re touching. That makes it interesting, but its never that big of a challenge. I never felt like uh boy I’ll lose this one. There are also falling rocks that when they hit you, you’ll be dizzy and stunned for an excessively long time. I’m sure it only feels excessive because the blocks themselves fall at such a low rate that to be an effective punishment, you need to get stunned for that long period of time.
Every so often, surprises will fall from the top. These are white mystery boxes that can do good or bad things. Good things like give you a single shootable bullet, an extra colored block to drop wherever you want or a bomb that destroys blocks around it. You have a small inventory that you keep the good things in the order you collect them. So if you get a bomb, then a yellow block, you need to use the yellow block, then the bomb. As for the bad things, they’ll make you dizzy or confuse your character where movement becomes left is right, right is left. As you play more and more of the game, you’ll unlock a different variety of surprises within the gifts.
The real trick up the game’s sleeve is same screen versus mode where you and a friend next to you play against one another. While I wasn’t able to do that for this review, the mode still exists. You play simultaneously on the same game area and I assume the winner is the one with the highest score at the game over.
Now for the sound effects. Ever wonder what it would sound like driving in a clown car? Well Hop and Pop is here to satisfy your curiosities. The sounds are boyongs, honks, pops and even a banana slide in there for good measure. As for the music its pretty generic and mellow and doesn’t fit the circus tone of the sound effects and colorful aesthetics.
The art design is fun and colorful, even if I recognized some backgrounds taking from a RPG Maker game. I know this is a cheap $2 game released in 2012, but it really should have its own custom backgrounds. There are a variety of different themes. A trash theme that has cartoon zombie heads as blocks and a more family friendly cutie theme with balloons as blocks. I feel like the cutie theme fits the sound effects better.
There are rebindable keys, but no graphical options. You’re stuck in a windowed box. A game like this feels like it needs an Android or iPhone port. I can see this having a far greater audience on a portable screen.
The $2 price tag is worth it, but the only problem is that its lacking frills. Its always the same game even if there’s a theme change. Tetris has always been the same game over the decades, so maybe it doesn’t need extra modes, but I’d appreciate them. It could also benefit from online leader boards, even daily leader boards.