Pop Up Video Games

This is a trope in Video Games for young children, especially CD-ROM based games from the 1990s. Pop Up Video Games will probably also be Edutainment Games, though they don't necessarily have to be.

Basically, this is where clicking on items in the background causes cute animations to happen. Whenever you arrive at a scene with a lot of clickable items, expect one of the characters to instruct you to "click around and see what happens". The animations you'll find will probably be very random and off-the-wall, likely applying several Animation Tropes. For example, clicking on a radio would not just make it play music, but more likely make it come to life and start dancing or something like that.

This trope is named based on the idea that this is the video game equivalent of pop-up books, as well as a pun on the VH1 TV show Pop Up Video.

Related: Idle Animation.


  • The indie game Windosill includes examples of this as the creator's experiments with Flash. Some interaction with these objects is required to go from stage to stage.
  • The Living Books series, based off of children's books, like Arthur, Little Critter or The Berenstain Bears.
  • Logical Journey of the Zoombinis. Most of the backgrounds were static, except for the camps where you would have to ensure you had a full party of sixteen Zoombinis. There, you could click on everything and things would happen.
  • Packard Bell Navigator interface did this in Kidspace.
  • The early Jump Start games from the mid-'90s, before they started to be about working with a goal in mind. Even 3rd grade and 4th grade had stuff to click on.
  • The games based on The Magic School Bus series, especially the human body and solar system.
    • Some of the popups in those games crossed the line into horror. The worst of which was a series of events in which you could take the classroom fish out of the bowl, place it on the ground, leave it until it stopped flopping, sputtered and died. Then you could cook it in a model volcano.
  • Pick a Humongous Entertainment game. Any game. Except maybe the Backyard Sports games. They referred to these as "click points".
  • The "Animated Storybooks" series from Disney Interactive were this—they took story versions of various Disney properties and combined them with these various animations, plus a few simple mini-games. A few had larger "secondary" games, such as a The Little Mermaid game that also included a coloring book/storybook maker.
  • This was the entire plot of Toonland with Howie Mandel.
  • Cyan's early games Cosmic Osmo and The Manhole. The only goal is to explore as much of each game's quirky universe as you can find.
  • They Might Be Giants' children's album No! was also a CD-ROM with several mini-games based around the songs, most of which featured this. Some are quite strange; "Violin" features the line "one-quarter of George Washington's head" and that's exactly what you get (and more if you click, obviously...)
  • The most absurd example (which was rather the point, of course), was Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time, wherein you mostly clicked on random stuff, and weird things happened in true MP style. Some special animation, playing an old Flying Circus sketch, making a pinball game in a cathedral, what have you not.
    • There was an actual game buried deep in there, and there were even prizes awarded to the first few people to discover and complete it. Later Monty Python games made the game aspects more obvious, but had no less random clickable wackiness.
    • Holy Grail also had a bit of this too.
  • Panic is mostly about pressing random buttons that cause silly animations to happen.
  • StayTooned also has this, but isn't very well done in some spots. it's mainly there because you're looking for keys and the remote.