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Bash your hippos - get the marbles!
Chad Valley Hungry Hippos
Member Name: pmcds
Chad Valley Hungry Hippos
Advantages: Loads of fun; durable
Disadvantages: Makes a right racket!
Sometimes, it's the simplest of games that stand the test of time. I vividly remember playign hungry Hippos with my brother when we were kids, sitting in our parents' front room bashing the handle as hard as we could and as fast as we could with no finesse whatsoever to try and capture as many little plastic balls as possible. It must have made a right racket, and driven our parents bonkers!
I seriously think that those who create games deliberately try and think of things that are going to make as much noise as possible. I know I would have done, given half the chance, when I was younger. Now, though, with two little boys in the house, I know the true value of peace and quiet. Hungry Hippos will give you none of that. It's not a board game, although you'd be forgiven for thinking so as you look at the solid, square box. Inside, there is a plastic base unit with sides running all the way around. Stationed on each of the four sides is a plastic hippo, with its head lying in the tray and a handle where its tail would be.
The idea is simple. There are a large number of small plastic marbles, just slightly smaller than regular marbles would be. At an agreed time, these are released into play, and then you have to push the handle down to catch the marbles. When you push the handle down, the hippo's mouth reaches up and forwards before then coming down and backwards. it's hollow inside, and drags back anything it captures and drops it into a small pit. Whoever has caught the most marbles by the time they're all gone is the winner.
It really is as simple as that, but there are a good number of marbles. I couldn't tell you exactly how many, probably about 50 or 60, but over time we have lost quite a few, as you can imagine. That you have to press this handle to capture the marbles in front of you throws you into a bit of a panic, and I know me and my brother were in hysterics and a wild panic when playing this, trying to get as many marbles as possible. The thing is that, no matter how much you appreciate that a strategy is probably going to help you win better, you can't help bashing the thing as fast as possible in the hope that this gives you the best chance of grabbing as many marbles as possible. I remember countless times of playing where I would hardly look at the tray itself, focusing solely on the handle and trying to bash it as fast as possible.
Now though,m as a parent, I realise the cruel trick that the games makers have played. The game makes an absolute racket, with the combination of hard plastic on hard plastic, mechanisms being pushed to their physical limit, and hysterical children making more noise they realise. Sure, it's fun to play, but I can clearly see why my parents would limit our playing time with this - it drives you mad as a parent. My son loves to play it, and he looks stoked whenever I bring it out. I have to admit though, when I'm playing, I don't get annoyed by it, so I think there's something about being able to control the noise that makes it acceptable. His little shouts of glee and incessant laughter throughout as he watches me fervently try to capture as many marbles as possible while making silly faces is so joyful to watch that any headaches incurred by playing this are well worth it. My youngest is only a few weeks old, so it'll be a while before he enjoys it, but there are four hippos, so you can play with between 2 and 4 people. Of course if you want to, you can play on your own, but the fun level dwindles somewhat.
The game is available from Argos for just under £15, which is quite a bit of money but worth it for the amount of fun you can get from it. The parts are very durable, as they have to be to withstand the constant bashing, and they advise kids under three not to play it due to the small parts which inevitably find their way into little paws, tiny mouths, and places in the house you forgot existed. It's a huge amount of fun for the family, although mums and dads beware - it makes a right racket. Recommended.
Summary: Really fun marble catching game - loads of laughs, really loud
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