Nintendo Consoles

Nintendo Consoles

Friday, August 16, 2013

Playground Series: What the Hell Am I Playing?

I'm sure by now, you guys are sick of hearing me say things that aren't about video games, so fuck me apologizing for not writing in a while. Let's just roll the next review out.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg

I've recently acquired about 20 new Gamecube games. So, where do you start playing? I figured I would start up 1 or 2 long games and 1 or 2 short games at a time, and just collect other games to save for later in between. One game that I wound up playing during all of this gaming madness was Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. I only read a little bit about this game in Gameradar's list of top 50 Gamecube games before I decided to never think about it again, simply because I could not imagine what I was reading actually being a real game. Well I am here tonight to discuss how I formally withdraw my original opinions of this game, and replace them with a whole new perspective on the concept of hatching eggs.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is an addictively ridiculous platformer developed by SEGA Sonic Team shortly after they released Sonic Adventure 2 in 2003. You play as a young boy named Billy who is thrown into a world ruled by chickens after he displays "great courage" by punching a small bird in the face in order to save his friends. Almost as soon as Billy arrives in Morning Land, he equips himself with a sacred Chicken Suit. This suit allows Billy to arm himself with giant eggs. Without an egg, Billy is pretty worthless, but WITH an egg, Billy is able to jump really high, ground pound the floor around him, ride on tracks meant to move eggs, and take out the evil crows by rolling the egg into them. The eggs, although are fragile, easily broken, and easily replaceable, utilize a basic upgrading system. It's nothing immersive, but it is important to know that when enemies are destroyed, they drop fruit. Roll an egg over the fruit, and the egg will grow. Eggs do more damage with each size-increase and a fully matured egg can be hatched by Mr. Billy Hatcher himself. A quick cock-a-doodle-doo will pop the egg open and potentially reveal 1 item from a large collection of possible egg-inhabitants. Different colored eggs hatch different items. More commonly found eggs can contain extra lives or collectables, but rarer blue or red eggs can contain animal assistants whose powers become yours to command upon hatching them. These animals help you solve puzzles or attack enemies once you befriend them in the ever-classic quest to reach one side of the level to the other.

The story's a god damned kids game so who cares? There's an evil crow who wants to cast Morning Land into an eternal nighttime. Stop the evil crow, and do whatever everyone else tells you to do in order to beat the game. But if there is one thing everyone knows about kid's games, it's that they're fucking stupidly difficult. Unfortunately, poor game mechanics are responsible for a lot of the difficulty that this game has to offer, but they are not so plentiful that the game becomes unplayable (*coughSonicTheHedgehog2006cough*). So with any platformer, you really only have to consider a few different elements. Platforming video games date all the way back to 1981 Donkey Kong in the arcades, so when looking at modern platformers, you have to consider the factors that separate the games made today from the games made 30 years ago. You must consider graphics, originality, music (I guess), playability, and most importantly how much fun the game is to play. Well in my opinion Sonic Team spared very little cheese or tomatoes in this egg-wise adventure. Ill discuss each element separately.

Originality. So I don't know if you guys heard when I said it before, but your an egg. A giant egg. It is important for those holding magnifying glasses to this game to note that the abilities you gain while holding an egg are not very original, as we have seen the ground pound/ butt bounce/ whatever you want to call it for years, but if rolling an egg into enemies in order to vanquish them isn't creative enough for you, then stop letting Stephen King set your creativity bar too high. You could say that this game is original because you roll an egg around in order to play, or you could say it's unoriginality is disguised by an egg, but either way, someone over at Sonic Team was ballsy enough to suggest that a game whose main attraction was rolling an egg would sell, and it me. Moving on.

Graphics. Let's see, 2003 graphics. Well we got Metroid Prime, F-Zero GX, and The Legend of
Zelda: The Wind Waker. Okay so the bar was set pretty high for graphics even in 2003. The visual importance of video games really became most noticeable upon the arrival of Playstation 2 games during the climax of it's career. Graphical legacies were also continued by Microsoft's Halo and Gears of War series, but if I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned how the graphics in Metroid Prime could rival those of modern games, I wouldn't have to go to college. That being said, graphical feats were not easily attainable in 2003, and unfortunately, it seams that Sonic Team missed the frying pan in this area. However, having average graphics will never mean that the game looks bad. Average graphics are a great canvas for a great art style. Wind Waker is the perfect example. While Billy Hatcher doesn't feature graphics of any impressive quality, it is a delightfully bright and colorful game, complimenting it's playful, light-hearted gameplay, and REALLY catchy music. You're god damn rolling an EGG. Does anyone really need goodgraphics for this?? What was really necessary for this game, were bright colors, and Sonic Team nailed that.

Like I said before, the game feels a little underdeveloped. Perhaps it is Sonic Team tradition to leave dumb mechanics in their games, or maybe it is the fact that Billy Hatcher is run by the same engine that ran Sonic Adventure 2 - a game whose glitches are almost as famous as it's level design, but like I said before, the difficult sequences of BH:GE are the result of a few poorly designed game mechanics. Some enemies are just too annoying, maintaining control while moving with your fragile egg is about 20% harder than it should be, and small mistakes are often extremely unforgiving to the point where you question why you're playing this game even more than you are intended to. The game is still very much playable, as these annoying mechanics are not found in every level, but when they do show up, you will die in your heart a little bit for every time Billy dies as a result of their bullshit.

Overall, Billy Hatcher really is a fun game. The level designs vary greatly from stage to stage, and are always a pleasure to look at. Sometimes the game can be too hard for all of the worst reasons, but in the end, you never really did expect a game that featured weaponized eggs to be 100% solid, did you? This game is 15 dollars on Amazon. Considering the fact that 15 is enough to get Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, SSX 3, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Mario Golf Toadstool Tour, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time or F-Zero GX, I would say that it may not be worth getting immediately, but if you ever run into it at your local Play N Trade like how I did, it may be destiny telling you to either play this title, or grab an omelet.

-10 Points - occasionally clumsy controls
-5   Points - occasionally dumb stupid mechanics
-4   Points - sometimes the game feels a little boring, as levels tend to be a bit too long, resulting in the witnessing of the same music and visuals for up to 15 minutes at a time
50  Points - originality
10  Points - visual appeal
6    Points - Audio appeal
10  Points - the game is not very long, but the amount of optional levels, in addition to the main story, makes the game feel like it is how long you want it to be
5    Points - the multiplayer is EXACTLY what you want it to be

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