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Pop Up Video Games

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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.
  • Before he worked on Parappa, Rodney Greenblat made several of these, including Dazzeloids and Rodney's Wonder Window.
  • 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.
  • Ozzie's World and Ozzie's Travels by Digital Impact were examples of this genre. In the former, the mini-games and experiments were accessible via holding down the shift key and clicking on items again whenever the little purple chest icon opened up.
  • Pick a Humongous Entertainment game. Any game. Except maybe the Backyard Sports games. They referred to these as "click points".
  • The Disney's Animated Storybook 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 (1989) game that also included a coloring book/storybook maker.
  • Tuneland, the first game of the Li'l Howie's Fun House series, consists of just clicking on things to see animations and/or hear some public domain songs.
  • In the mid-90s to early 2000s, Infogrames and Big Tune New Media made and released a series of such games featuring Mercer Mayer's Little Critter, and a couple with Mayer's lesser-known franchise Little Monster. The first titles were adapted straight from the books "Just Me and My Dad" and "Just Me and My Mom," along with "The Smelly Mystery" (featuring Little Monster Private Eye), an original Little Critter story "Just Me and My Grandpa") and two non-storybook click-and-point games: "Little Critter and the Great Race" and "Little Monster Private Eye and The Mummy Mystery."
  • 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...)
  • Monty Python:
    • Monty Python's Complete Waste of Time is a deliberately absurd example, wherein you mostly clicked on random stuff, and weird things happened in the spirit of the franchise. 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.
    • Quest for the Holy Grail also had a bit of this.
  • Panic! is mostly about pressing random buttons that cause silly animations to happen.
  • Stay Tooned! 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.
  • The Explorapedia games allowed you to visit various settings in either nature or America, where you could click on certain elements for a fun animation before getting the in-game equivalent of a web page appear that talks about what you just clicked on. In the Options menu you could disable the pop-up, turning the game into one of these.
  • The obscure SNES game Motoko-chan's Wonder Kitchen: It's a game that uses the SNES mouse and was released only in Japan, but not sold—it was a free Advertisement Game published by condiment maker Ajinomoto that focuses on its mayonnaise. Most remarkable about this game is that it was developed by Pax Softnica, a Nintendo second-party better known for its games based on Hamtaro. As a result, it has far more polish than you would expect from an Advergame.
  • Nickelodeon Clickamajigs are 1990s and early 2000s Flash games where you mainly just click on things.
  • The 1998 Candy Land PC game was this nearly as much as it was a digital board game. Each of the areas shown on the board, such as the Candycane Forest and Gumdrop Mountains, can be visited by clicking on them. This brings the player to a corresponding screen with a host character and many clickable things, possibly including a minigame of some sort. Even clicking the character causes them to say something.
  • Although My Little Pony: Friendship Gardens is primarily a Raising Sim, it also contains elements of this.
  • Many Dorling Kindersley games take the trope name literally, by animations being followed by a pop-up screen with educational information on the topic.
  • The half of Only the Brave Can Rescue the Kidnapped Princess that takes place in the castle is a cross between this and a Hidden Object Game.