I hated the TV advert for this, although I quite liked the game.
Hungry Hippos was an up-to-4 player game, in which you had to frantically bash a lever on the back of a plastic hippo to make it lurch forward and eat marbles. Whoevers hippo ate the most marbles was declared the winner.
The hippos were each a different colour meaning that, for argumentative siblings especially, a game of Hungry Hippos would often get off to a bad start as people argued which colour they wanted to be. Phrases like “you were that colour LAST time” and “you’re ALWAYS green – I want to be green” were commonplace and often kicked off a game.
The hippos also had names – Homer, Henry, Harry and Lizzie, adding further frustration if there was ever more than one female player; “I don’t want to be a boy”
It seemed like just setting the game up caused huge family disputes.
Finally, after arguing who was which colour and who was a boy, with some children already in a sulky mood, it was time to deploy the marbles.
Marbles were deployed using a little flippy switch by the side of your hippo. The marbles you let out would roll down towards your opponents hippo into a slightly concave bowl, and their marbles would roll down towards yours. At the same time as releasing marbles, players would frantically hit their hippos lever and try to grab the oncoming marbles. It genuinely was a two-handed game with one hand releasing dispatching marbles and the other trying to catch oncoming ones.
Games would typically last around 30 seconds after which you’d have to count up the marbles to see whose hippo had eaten the most.
If you combine up all the elements involved in having a game of Hungry Hippos, (arguing, setting up, playing and deciding a winner,) the “playing” aspect probably totaled around 8% of the overall time.