Over the Hedge is a platform game with stealth game elements developed by Vicarious Visions and published by Activision for the Nintendo DS handheld video game console. It was first released in North America, and was later released in Europe. The game is set immediately after the events of the DreamWorks movie Over the Hedge, unlike the console versions which follow the events of the film. Vicarious Visions is responsible for many handheld versions of licensed video games. Publisher Activision has a longstanding business relationship with animation studio DreamWorks and has exclusive global rights to publish games based on DreamWorks animated films.
Gameplay involves guiding three playable woodland creatures through suburban houses to collect items and return them to their forest. House inhabitants and traps must be avoided or neutralized to succeed. The game's plot concerns Gladys Sharp's attempt to turn what's left of the animals' forest into a swimming pool; the animals try to prevent this by luring endangered species to the forest, making the forest a protected habitat. Over the Hedge received positive and average reviews from the gaming press, as well as gaming website IGN's 'Best Game No One Played' award for 2006. The game was praised for the technical achievement of displaying full 3D on both of the Nintendo DS' screens, but some reviewers found the gameplay repetitive.
Verne encounters one of the inhabitants whilst exploring a house. The red cone on the lower screen shows the man's sight range.The game has been likened to both Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid due to the 3D platforming and stealth gameplay respectively. Players guide the forest inhabitants through 20 levels, during which they must infiltrate a series of suburban homes in order to steal a variety of items and destroy construction materials. The items needed to lure endangered animals to the forest must be collected from houses and carried back to the forest one at a time. Each level requires several trips to be completed. Security systems must be avoided or deactivated in order to progress through each level. Household members and their pets must also be avoided, distracted or stunned by a thrown object. For example, a phone card can be used to make a prank call to lure a householder away, catnip can be used to distract cats.
Each character has their own unique abilities. Verne has the strength to push and carry large items and can retract into his shell in order to avoid detection, but cannot jump as high or run as swift as the other characters. RJ has average strength and agility. He can climb, lift items and also throw Verne. Hammy is the most agile of the three, running swifter and jumping higher. This enables him to circumvent security more easily.
Over the Hedge is presented in full 3D on both of the Nintendo DS' screens, which is not often seen in a Nintendo DS game. The upper screen displays the game in an over-the-shoulder third person perspective, whereas the touch screen shows an overhead perspective. The lower screen indicates the sight range of enemies and can be used as a touch screen to target enemies to attack. The console's microphone is used to attract the attention of dogs or to rouse the woodland creatures should they be knocked unconscious.
A multiplayer mini-game is included and allows two players to compete via the DS' wireless connection, only one player needs an Over the Hedge game cartridge for two separate DS consoles to play. Stella the skunk is available in this game mode, alongside the three playable characters from the main game. Players navigate a maze to collect food before the timer runs out. The player with the most food wins the game. A most of five pieces of food can be carried at once, these must be carried to a collection area before more food can be picked up.