In the world of toys, simplicity often reigns supreme. Such is the case with a handheld electronic toy called Bop It. First released in 1996, this addictive game quickly rose in popularity, spawning an extensive line of sequels that continue to mesmerize and challenge kids to this day.
Bop It was the brainchild of an inventor named Dan Klitsner and licensed to Hasbro Toys. The original version consisted of a plastic device that generated music interspersed with commands that corresponded to various actions one could perform. If the game told you to “pull it,” for example, you would give the handle a tug. If it directed you to “Twist It”, you twisted a handle. And, if you were told to “bop it”, you quickly hit the button labeled “bop it.” Sure, that sounds easy, but you had to take action rather quickly after the command was given, or you would lose valuable points.
There were three variations on the game. Solo Bop allowed you to play by your lonesome and concluded when you missed a command. Things got more exciting with the other modes, Vox Bop and Beat Bop, which were both of the multiplayer variety. Vox Bop consisted of a musical beat that includes randomly called out commands. Should the player perform them exactly, the game instructs you to “Pass it”. Should the player fail, they are out of the game. Beat Bop offered a different twist. Sounds replaced the voice commands so, when you heard a bass drum, you bopped it, when you heard a cranking sound, you twisted, when you heard a slide whistle, you pulled it, and so on.
Popular games spawn plenty of sequels and Bop it was no exception. In 1988, Hasbro followed with the newly-shaped Bop It Extreme, which offered new game modes and two new commands, “Flick It” and “Spin it.” Two years later, Bop It Extreme 2 was introduced, with more features and redesigned controls. In 2005, Bop It Blast hit the market, offering light-based commands and the option for a female voice.
Since its introduction in the 90s, Bop It has shown no signs of waning popularity. It has won numerous awards for its innovative game play, and for fostering the idea that perhaps electronic games needn’t be played alone.
If you have fond memories of playing Bop It, either alone or with your friends, we welcome your memories in our comments section.