Hopping Mad
By Elite
Commodore 64/128

Published in Zzap #40

Hopping Mad

Taking control of a string of four bouncing balls, you face the task of following the path taken by an imaginary opponent. Across the world and out into space, he has avoided all dangers to stay alive, and has amassed a great score by collecting the balloons and apples he discovered on his journey. Needless to say, you are now daunted by the task ahead, whilst your opponent sits back in satisfaction.

The quest takes place over twelve timed, horizontally-scrolling levels ranging from park to desert and beach to undersea world. Taking control of a string of four rhythmically bouncing balls, the player attempts to collect a set of balloons floating tantalisingly close to the ground. By altering the speed and height of the undulating string the constantly moving balls can be directed into place.

Each environment has its own particular natural hazards. Spiky hedgehogs scurry across the grass, cacti grow close to sharp rocks and ball-eating flowers anticipate the timely arrival of their lunch. Collision with any of these bursts one or more of the balls. Once all four have been punctured, one of three lives is lost. Extra points are awarded for collecting bonus apples and landing directly on certain creatures.

Hopping Mad

A collection of ten balloons gains entry to the next level and another round of hopping, skipping, leaping and jumping like mad.


After the very pretty MAT-designed title screen, Hopping Mad seemed set to be a very nice looking game indeed. Unfortunately, the graphics didn't quite live up to the neat intro. Don't get me wrong: the game itself is by no means awful. In fact, on the whole, it proves to be rather addictive. Once you get used to the fact that there is a string of bouncing balls to control, hopping about the screen is quite fun. The urge to 'just see what the next screen's like' brings the player back to the machine again and again.

The question is, once all the backgrounds have been seen, will you want to improve your score? Hopping Mad is by no means the best game from Elite but then again, it isn't the worst; it's just sort of quite good to OK.


Hopping Mad

If you've got the Elite Trio compilation, Hopping Mad will give you a certain sense of deja vu. It's virtually identical to Cataball, a game which Elite did not consider worthy of a full-price release. They've obviously changed their mind.

The levels are different and the game is larger, with updated sound and graphics, but on the whole it's a very similar game. Having said that, Hopping Mad is pleasant and playable with jolly sound and colourful graphics to suit the whacky gameplay. The big question, though, concerns the lastability of this peculiar ball game. Scenery and opponents change graphically with each level, but the game stays the same.

For the sake of the unusual control method it might be worth giving this a try, but digging out a copy of the Trio compilation might be more financially sound.


Hopping Mad

Hopping Mad is about the weirdest game (to my knowledge) that Elite have ever released. It's very 'cute' from the bounty intro and high score tunes to the colourful, well-defined graphics.

Gameplay is simple; just guide your bouncing balls (excuse the phrase) across the smoothly scrolling, meanie-filled screens. Control is easy to master, which is just as well because all of your skill will be needed to get past the obstacles, both animate and inanimate that stand in your path.

At a time when there are a lot of beat-'em-ups, and shoot-'em-ups on the market, it's nice to see a game where you don't have to shoot, hack, maim, and generally kick the heck out of everything. I really enjoyed playing Hopping Mad. Well done, Elite!


Hopping Mad

Presentation 68%
Attractive loading screen and standard pause/quit options.

Graphics 72%
Colourful, if sometimes crude, with nice bouncing movement.

Sound 71%
Bouncy title tune and in-game effects.

Hopping Mad

Hookability 79%
Initial hook due to the interesting game design.

Lastability 54%
Very similar levels will promote boredom.

Overall 64%
A pleasant game with unfortunately repetitive gameplay.