Hoppeland -or Hoppechan Minna de Odekake! Waku Waku Hoppeland!! to give its full name- is the second Hoppechan videogame (the other -Hoppe Cyan Tsukutte Asonde Puni Puni Town!!- is also on 3DS). Hoppechan is perhaps most popularly known as a digital pet toy similar in appearance to the classic Tamagotchi toys. Obviously the Hoppechan line doesn’t end with a digital pet toy and a couple of videogames (see YouTube user Kawaii Mini Japan for an excellent collection). There’s even an awesome looking Hoppechan store in Chiba. All this still doesn’t answer the question ‘what is a Hoppechan?’.
A Hoppechan is probably best likened to a Dragon Quest Slime. But where as Witch & Hero simply plagiarises, Hoppechan is made of icing and sans mouth (but with cheeks!). Hoppechan also have a wardrobe consisting of hundreds of accessories which is of-course hundreds more than the Dragon Quest Slime’s solitary one (King Slime’s crown). The first task in Hoppeland is to name yourself (the owner not the Hoppechan) then create your very own Hoppechan and name him/her (yes you can indeed play as a boy in a girl game although you’d perhaps need to unlock a moustache to fully look the part).
Being able to name your Hoppechan in English (as well as give him/her a unique colour, pattern, eyes, cheeks, bow etc) is all well and good until you realise you are unable to share your creation to Miiverse (apart from in select instances such as parts of games using the 3DS camera, screenshot postage in Miiverse should be compulsory for ALL developers). Never has Miiverse integration seemed so necessary. Bitch fits over and it’s time to finally play some Hoppeland! Hop over (for Hoppechan hath no legs) and speak to a more senior Hoppechan, donate some Hoppecoins and it’s time for your first mini-game!
Steering a Hoppetrain with the task of collecting fruit without falling off the edge (think Snake) is actually pretty fun in a throwaway Mario Party mini-game kinda way. Next door is a four player (the game actually supports four player local multiplayer) mini-game where fruit falls from the top screen and you have to catch from the bottom screen. Here is where squeezing every last drop of icing is an advantage as you can simply push your rivals out of the way. Points scored in the mini-games earns you more Hoppecoins to again donate to the central part of Hoppeland and unlock further attractions.
Not everything unlockable is a mini-game: a zillion further accessories are available to personalise your Hoppechan, you can even create many others (the other characters end up competing with you in mini-games or just lounging around on the island), take a photograph with the 3DS camera with dozens of available backgrounds at your disposal, take a screenshot with the in-game camera (which makes the lack of Miiverse integration even more astoundingly stupid) as well as the usual pet simulation stylus related shenanigans. Cuteness aside, the main selling point of Hoppeland are the actual mini-games.
Hoppeland will take hours to unlock every single mini-game. Summarising them as a whole as ‘hit-or-miss’ do none of them any proper justice as whilst there are some disappointments (the rhythm game for instance), most are enjoyable little experiences from the Pokémon Snap-esque haunted house/ghost train where you snap Hoppeghosts, to a surfing California Games, to a stereoscopic 3D racer right through to a skateboarding game. It’s success at the latter that unlocks the most crucial item - the skateboard, which thankfully cuts travelling time between attractions down by over half.
Whilst most of the mini-games are a ‘hit’, few if any are actually truly spectacular. Graphically Hoppeland is super cute although the graphics look like they could mostly be achieved on a DS and sonically the main tune can be both annoying and catchy. Existing Hoppechan fans will probably not be disappointed and perspective fans may find themselves overwhelmed by the cuteness of it all. However despite all of its cuteness, a wealth of mini-games, a ton of customisables and local multiplayer, Hoppeland is more colourful on the outside than it is on the in and lacks the cohesion and the quality to be the definitive mini-game collection on the 3DS.
Review by Bri Bri. For more information on Hoppechan Minna de Odekake! Waku Waku Hoppeland!! go to http://www.columbia-games.com/3ds/hoppeland/