That weird dumbbell-shaped gizmo you see above is the latest incarnation of Hasbro’s popular Bop It! toy. The older models had various things to bop, twirl, pull, and tweak — all set to various sound effects and a voice shouting instructions at you. The Bop It! Smash takes the basic “bop” control and boils it down to a game of fast reflexes.
Here’s how it works: the device is about a foot wide, and has a few little indentations on the front and back for your thumb and fingers. Both ends are buttons that you “smash” — you could just hold the thing and hit one end, or you can hold both ends and smash them together. Along the center is a track of lights, which can be seen from the front or back of the toy. The eight lights on the sides are yellow, and in the center there’s a large blue light flanked by two green ones. Finally, there’s a little slider switch above the right grip which is used to select a game and control the volume (Quiet, Loud, Blasting).
The basic idea is this: the light races back and forth, and you try to smash it when it’s in the center. You get one point for green lights, five points for the big blue light, and none for the small yellow lights. Also, you start off with three lives, and each time you get a yellow, you lose a life. (Three lights on the left side light up to show you how many lives you have left.) Get a blue light and you’ll also gain an extra life, up to the maximum of three.
In the meantime, there’s a guy’s voice making comments when you score (“You killed it!”) or when you miss (“Fail-tastic, my man.”). He also announces the score, the play mode, speaker volume, etc. Every four rounds, you’ll get a bonus round where you try to get as many blue lights as possible with no penalties for missing.
The solo mode just gives you three lives and you play until your lives are exhausted. Pass It mode basically has you pass it after each successful smash, progressing through the regular levels (no bonuses). If you miss, you lose a life and it’s still your turn. Lose three lives in a row, and you’re out of the game. Last player standing wins – there’s no score keeping. Multiplayer mode actually keeps track of 2 to 6 players, and gives each player three lives. You each get a chance at the same level before progressing to the next, and the game keeps going until only one player is left.
Bop It! Smash is a pretty simple idea that reminds me of those one-button casual games I play on my iPad. It’s perfect for a brief session, and you can sort of zone out watching the little lights race back and forth, trying to anticipate the patterns. The Pass It and Multiplayer modes don’t keep track of score, which is too bad, but your high score on Solo mode is saved (and announced each time you turn it on) unti the batteries need to be changed.
The announcer voice can be a bit grating: he mocks you when you lose and is really enthusiastic when you score. But there’s no way to turn him off — you can only make him get louder. It doesn’t have the versatility of the old Bop It! toys but it does require a different sort of focus, and my kids and I are enjoying it for the most part. If I want to play the original Bop It! game, I’ll just use the iPad app, I guess…
Disclosure: review materials provided by Hasbro.