When I was a kid I remember occasionally going to arcades. In pretty much every arcade there was a game that utilized the Whac-A-Mole premise where the objective was basically to hit the animals as they popped out of their holes. I honestly don’t remember ever playing an official Whac-A-Mole game as the local arcades generally had other similar games. While not my favorite arcade game, I still enjoyed these games as a kid. With arcades basically a thing of the past, games like Whac-A-Mole in their original form are basically dead. That hasn’t stopped the formula from being implemented into board games though. There have actually been a surprising number of Whac-A-Mole board games created over the years. We took a look at the Whac-A-Mole Card Game a while back. Today I am looking at 2004 version of Electronic Whac-A-Mole, one of many different versions of the game. Electronic Whac-A-Mole is basically a home version of the arcade game that can be fun for children, but gets repetitive rather quickly for adults.
How to Play Electronic Whac-A-Mole Game
- Insert batteries into the bottom of the game unit.
- Place the game unit in the middle of the table.
- Each player takes a mallet.
- Slide the button along the bottom of the game unit to the game that you want to play.
For the solo game the objective is to hit each of the moles when their hat lights up.
When a mole’s hat lights up you need to hit it pushing the mole down as quickly as possible. If you hit the mole in time you will receive points.
When the time runs out the game will tell you how many points you scored.
Easy and Hard Game
These two games support between two to four players. The two modes are basically the same except that players get more time to hit the moles in the easy game. In the easy game the moles’ hats also light up.
To begin these modes the game will tell the players to select their moles. Each player will hit the mole in front of them. This is the mole that they will use for the rest of the game.
After all of the players have chosen their moles the game will go through all of the moles giving each a sound effect to associate with them. The game will also give the players a bonus sound effect which applies to all of the players.
The game will then begin. The game will play sound effects (will also show lights in the easy game) and the player whose sound effect is played will quickly hit their mole. If they do it in time they will receive points.
When the bonus sound effect is played the players will race to be the first to hit their mole in order to receive points.
The game will end when one of the players earn 100 points. That player will win the game. The game will list the amount of points that each player earned so each player can see where they placed in the game.
My Thoughts on Electronic Whac-A-Mole Game
So before I get into talking about the game, I would like to begin by saying that this review is based on the 2004 version of Electronic Whac-A-Mole. I bring this up because there have been at least three different versions of Electronic Whac-A-Mole and they appear to all be different. I am guessing that the basic gameplay doesn’t really differ between the games as all of them rely on whacking moles as quickly as possible. Each version of the game utilizes a different game unit though and has different games that you can play with it.
The 2004 version of the game basically has three different games. Two of these games are multiplayer while the third is a single player game.
Lets begin with the multiplayer games. Both the easy and hard modes are very similar to one another. Each player is given a mole which they will be responsible for hitting throughout the game. Each mole will be assigned a sound effect and there will be one sound effect that applies to all of the players. When one of your two sound effects are played you need to try and hit your mole as quickly as possible. The only real difference between the easy and hard mode is that the easy mode also lights up the mole’s hat making it easier to detect when you should hit your mole. If a player hits their mole quick enough they will score points. The first player to score enough points will win the game.
These two main modes are basically what you would expect from a game called Electronic Whac-A-Mole. Players are tested on their reaction times as well as their memory. In theory a multiplayer version of Whac-A-Mole actually sounds pretty interesting. A competition of who could hit the most moles sounds like it could have been pretty fun. The problem is that there are a limited number of moles on the game unit. Instead of frantically trying to hit as many moles as possible, players are forced to wait for their turn to hit their mole. While some players might like the memory aspect of these modes, I think they ruin the whole premise behind Whac-A-Mole. Instead of frantically trying to hit the moles as quickly as possible, the game was turned into a waiting game. This just doesn’t translate to a very enjoyable multiplayer game. You end up spending a majority of the game just waiting around for the opportunity to hit your own mole.
This isn’t helped by the fact that the game could have done a better job with the sound effects. Some of the sound effects are distinctive and easy to recognize. Others kind of sound similar to one another where it is hard to distinguish them. This becomes a problem because you regularly don’t have much time to hit your mole so you don’t have time to decide whether the sound that was played was yours or one of the other similar sounds. What should have been a pure memory and speed game becomes an exercise in whether you can distinguish the different sound effects in time. For this reason I would maybe recommend just playing the easy mode as you then have the lights making it crystal clear which mole is supposed to be hit.
I rarely say this with regards to board games, but I honestly think the single player game is the superior mode for Electronic Whac-A-Mole. The single player mode basically plays like the original game with less moles to hit. Instead of hitting the moles that pop their heads out, you need to hit the moles whose lights light up. The game becomes a simple game of trying to hit as many moles in time as you can. At the end of the game you get a score based on how many moles you hit which can be compared to past high scores or can be used to introduce multiplayer as the players take turns playing and comparing their scores to determine the winner.
Honestly I see no real reason to play the actual multiplayer modes as the single player mode is clearly superior. Outside of there only being four moles and their heads only lighting up instead of popping up, the single player mode actually plays a lot like the original game. If you liked the arcade game you likely will have fun with this mode. It is pretty fun trying to hit the different moles as quickly as possible. I think younger children in particular will have quite a bit of fun with the game. The game is quick and straightforward to the point where you can basically turn it on and know what you are supposed to do.
The main problem that I had with the game just has to deal with the fact that Electronic Whac-A-Mole gets repetitive rather quickly. The entire game revolves around hitting the moles on the head when their sound effect or hat lights up. That is all there is to the game. The gameplay never adds anything more than this. After a game or two you have basically seen everything the game has to offer. I could see coming back to the game every so often for maybe a game or two. Any more than that though and I fear the game is going to drag with older children and adults. I could see this not affecting younger children though as the simplicity might actually work in their favor.
As for the components there are things that I liked and other things that could have been better. On the positive side the game appears to be quite durable. With a game like Electronic Whac-A-Mole where players are constantly hitting the moles with mallets, it was key that the game unit could take a beating. It seems like that is the case. I purchased a used copy of the game that shows quite a few signs of wear and yet it still works well. I have to applaud the designers for this as you would normally expect this type of game to break pretty easily. To prove how durable the game unit is, my copy of the game actually had part of one of the mallets broken off which tells you how hard previous players must have hit the game unit and the game still works.
On the negative side though, I do question the game’s recognition at times. There will be times in the game where players hit the unit really quickly and yet the game unit still didn’t recognize them being hit in time. This can be pretty frustrating at times as it genuinely feels like you are being robbed. This seems to add some luck to the game as you need to hope that the game recognizes your hits in time in order to get credit for them. In some games it felt like one player lost solely because the game didn’t want to recognize their hits. As I played a pretty well used copy of the game though this could be due to wear and tear, but I think it is mostly due to the recognition not being as good as it probably should have been.
Should You Buy Electronic Whac-A-Mole Game?
Electronic Whac-A-Mole is in many ways exactly what you would expect it to be. Basically the gameplay is built around hitting moles as quickly as possible. The game features a number of modes that basically all use this main gameplay mechanic. The multiplayer modes are kind of disappointing as each player is only given control over one mole. Basically the modes are glorified memory games with a speed element added in as well. These don’t really feel like the original game as they are just kind of boring as you wait around for your next turn. The single player game is actually the best mode as it plays more like the original game as you just try to hit as many moles as you can within the time limit. This mode can be fun at times, but the game still suffers from becoming repetitive rather quickly.
My recommendation for Electronic Whac-A-Mole comes down to whether you really enjoyed the original arcade game or have younger children. If neither apply to you, I find the odds of you enjoying the game to be pretty low. If you have younger children though or think the game will be fun to pull out every so often, it may be worth checking out if you can get a good deal on it.