When it comes to Hey! That’s My Fish! I’m of the school of thought that it takes longer to set up than to play. I’ve since been told that that’s a silly statement to make. Obviously I’m playing too fast and not delving into the strategic decisions that Hey! That’s My Fish! has to offer.
Fine. Maybe the fault lies with me but I just feel if I become the sort of guy that agonizes over the strategic possibility of which fish my little penguin should eat next than I become the sort of guy that nobody really wants to play any games with anymore.
Hey! That's Not In English
With H!TMF! being placed atop the pile of ‘it’s okay I guess, but do we have to play it?’ games in my house, it was time for a new contender to take the throne. The throne labelled ‘Game That Looks As Though They’re Designed For 8 Year Olds But Hold Some Strategic Depth’ (it’s a wide throne).
Hooop, there it is. I say Hooop, there it is.
Enter Hooop! A game we demoed at the recent Australian Games Expo that looked on the surface like a silly game about hopping frogs from one lily pad to the next but underneath was a much less silly game about hopping frogs from one lily pad to the next. As I started playing I thought ‘Hey! This Is Sort Of Like Hey! That’s My Fish!’ If I had to throw a label on it I’d call Hooop! Hey! That’s My Fish! meets Kogworks with awesome little frogs stirred in for good measure.
Here now after a somewhat lengthy introduction is the ultimate battle of Hooop! vs. Hey! That’s My Fish!
Round 1: Stupid Title
Which game has the more stupid title? Obviously Hey! That’s My Fish! is a strong contender for ‘most stupid title ever’ but if you look at Hooop! you begin to realize that you have zero idea how to pronounce that name. Do you pronounce it ‘Hoop’ as it seems you should? Or do you pronounce it ‘Hop!’ and draw out the O’s, because the game is about frogs leaping around after all?
If the round was called ‘Confusing Title’ than yeah Hooop! would win, but unfortunately it’s called ‘Stupid Title’ and there is hardly a more stupid title than Hey! That’s My Fish! unless somebody finally develops my prototype of my forgetful knitter game titled Oh No! I’ve Lost My Yarn!
Round 2: Options
Let's say we all just move around the ice and pick up fish.
When you play Hey! That’s My Troublesome To Type Title! you have the following option – travel to a fish. You can zoom in a straight line in any direction as far as you like (as long as you don’t pass through another penguin or rocket off the board into deep dark space). That’s it. It makes it simple to teach and leaves you with the following thought process while playing ‘Do I move my penguin along the ice and pick up fish or do I move my penguin along the ice and pick up fish, alternatively I could move my penguin along the ice and pick up fish, hang on, I’ve just thought of something, I could move my penguin along the ice and pick up fish.’
Look at all those options!
Hooop! on the other hand gives you the following choices. The aim is to get your frogs onto your opponent’s lily-pads by crossing the board. The board is made up of lily-pads connected by bridges on each side. On your turn you can leap across a bridge to the next lily-pad (removing the bridge as you cross) or you can place a bridge where no bridge currently lays. So as you move around the board the bridges start getting taken away and you have fewer options as to where to jump, but you can also place a bridge back down to open up another route of passage. So that’s two options: jump over a bridge or place a bridge. That’s twice as many options as Hey! That’s My Only Option!
I know what you Hey! That’s My Fish! people are thinking “Quite clearly there is more to do than just ‘move your penguin to a fish,’ it’s really all about which fish to move your penguin to. You see that’s where the strategic depth of the game comes into play. You’ve got to assess the variety of options and choose which best helps your cause. Yes, all of those options are just ‘move your penguin and pick up fish’ but the DEPTH! THE DEPTH! WHY WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE DEPTH!?”
Sorry, I got sidetracked. I hadn’t actually finished with the whole Hooop! options. You also get four special move cards that you can use once during the game. You can either move one of your frogs twice, or you can leap across to a lily-pad without using a bridge, or you can place two bridges on the same turn, or you can remove a bridge from the board. Look, that’s like six different choices that you as a player get to use. That’s now six times as many choices as in Hey! That’s Really My Only Option, I’m Sorry!
Round 3: How Does It Scale?
Great! Thanks for asking.
Round 4: Components
The hexagons in Hey! That’s My Fish! are solid little chunks of cardboard but you’ve still got to go to all that effort of setting the whole thing up. Hooop! comes with a board (I’ll just pretend that you don’t have to place all of the little bridges on the board because that kind of contradicts my main complaint about Hey! That’s My Fish! I will just say this though: it’s quicker sliding bridges onto designated spaces than it is creating free standing columns, so there!).
They're just so cute and slack jawed.
Oh, but the little wooden penguins, aren't they marvelous? I hear a voice in my head cry. Yeah they’re pretty good I guess but they’re no LITTLE PLASTIC FROGS!
Did somebody say 'awesome'?
You did not see that coming, did you? Your little wooden penguins were not ready for that full frontal frog attack. Go back to whatever iceberg you rode in on, you just got schooled.
That army of frogs will destroy us all!
So I give two rounds to Hooop! The stupid name round to Hey! That’s My Fish! and we can all share round three. Aww.
In all seriousness though Hooop! is a great little game that is easy to teach, fun to play and pretty to look at. It plays differently with 2, 3 and 4 players. I personally prefer the three player option because it presents a tighter games with different paths to victory. (2 players you have to get all your frogs to your opponents base. 4 players you have to get one frog to each opponents base. But with 3 players you have to get 2 frogs to one base and 1 frog to the other base, so you can change your strategy mid-game as to which base you’re chasing.)
Because while one is the loneliest number, three is best remembered as the number most suited for the optimal game of Hooop!
In the end, though, I think we’ve all learned an important lesson: frogs are better than penguins ... but only in this instance because in real life Penguins are awesome. Go Sidney Crosby!
The Crosb is a mad Hooop! fan. Although he's also partial to a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Thanks to folko, cnidius, Neurocide, Geosmores, swiftcorp and onedayyou for the pics.
Very funny review that really makes me want to check out HOOOOOOP (how many O's?). But, you are a little hard on H!TMF. It is a good game, accessible to a very wide range of ages and skill levels.
I very much like designing games but I think I prefer to play them.
Metallum ... game I most proud of.
That was a fun read! Great vs review, although I wouldn't mind to read a bit more about your impressions about the games.
Very funny review! But ... wait, what? Frogs need bridges to hop from lily pad to lily pad? And the bridges disappear after they are used? Ehrm ... say what?
I recently played Bullfrogs which had surprising depth. Maybe you should try it.