When I was younger and not very coordinated I would watch my older brother play games on various consoles throughout the years and Game Cube was no different. Despite Nintendo 64 probably being my favourite console, the Game Cube was a very close second because back then games seemed to have been made with the sole intention of entertaining the consumer, rather than to sell as many as possible. This means that they were a lot more comprehensive and rather than following a simple pattern to achieve success, there seemed to be innumerable ways to achieve a goal and this meant you would enjoy the game for much longer and get much more enjoyment out of it. For me at least.
Playing it on the Wii:
Having only in the past year bought into the Wii fad my love of the console was revitalised when I became aware that you could play Game Cube games on the console. A quick google search told me that to do so all one had to do was to fip up the top lid and plug in a Game Cube control. Luckily for me I found a controller (as well as a bag of vintage games I once loved) and so I was able to try them out as soon as the whim took me. Despite the disk being far smaller than an ordinary Wii disk, it still inserts much like a usual disk would and so beginning to play was very easy.
To access the game itself still required the use of a Wii remote and to click the game when it appeared in the top left hand corner of the menu screen. From there however it was simply a case of clicking the start button when "Click start...etc" appeared on the screen. After this the main page of the game appeared and I had various options to try out.
The menu screen:
After clicking start you see three eggs which you can choose from to start a game. Basically this acts as an icon for a 'save' meaning you have the option to have three different 'saves' on one console. Once you click on an egg icon you can choose to start a game, copy the already existing game or to delete it. As your progression moves up so does a liquid on the egg which means that say for example you have completed 3/4 of the game, the eff shape will fill up to 3/4. I like the option of having 3 different saves as it means that various people in my household could enjoy the game without having to delete or share one. This means we could compare our times and scores and added a little competition to gaming.
The game itself:
The basic premise of the game is to manuever a little boy named Billy around by grabbing onto over-sized eggs and running them into objects and enemies. To do so mostly involves the use of the analogue stick however you also have the option of using other buttons to complete more complex moves such as slamming the egg down onto enemy heads or propelling it at enemies from a distance. You can collect pieces of fruit which float in bubble shapes in order to size up your egg and once it has reached full size it is then possible to hatch the egg. From there you 'tame' an animal companion who has a certain power such as water, fire and electricity. For example you can tame an electric monkey which you are able to shoot at enemies from a distance.
The game involves lots of running around and lots of jumping. For this reason my boyfriend found the game a little boring and also a little too difficult. It is admittedly quite repetitive in terms of the buttons you press but the backgrounds and scenes are all quite varied with 5/6 levels per "world". The object of the game is to conquer enemies and complete a level where at the end you then hatch an "Elder Hen" who brings back sunlight to that world. This may sound a little whacky but children's games have been known to be more creative. Perhaps due to the repetitiveness it is a good thing that after completing a certain number of levels per world it is possible to then skip this world. This means that if you can't complete the particularly difficult levels you can still progress in the game, which is great as it means your gameplay doesn't have to end because you find something a little too hard to complete.
One particular problem with this platform game is the control of the egg. It is an awkward oval shape which sometimes means that when you have to complete complex jumps and turns, you will leave the egg at the top of the level you are standing on and be forced to get a completely new egg to attempt the jump again. This isn't too difficult to do as there are excess eggs stationed all over the worlds, but it is enough to try your patience. Similarly, as is common amongst most games of this time, the camera angle is most ALWAYS an issue. Well that is perhaps an exaggeration as there were levels early on in the game where it was suitable, however as the difficulty amped up the camera angle seemed to deterioate meaning it was not only necessarily to complete the level, but also to manuever the camera whilst doing so too. (This means toggling the 'c' button which works like an analogue stick, whilst pressing buttons and moving the ordinary analogue - as you can assume, this is quite difficult).
The visuals of the game are mostly excellent, particularly of a game of this age. The brightness and colourfulness is great for children and there are always interesting areas to explore across the map. The levels aren't grossly sized, but this also means they aren't overly complex which again is suited to child's play. However this game isn't only suited to children and I too enjoy playing it from time to time when the urge gets me.
The sounds however do not live up to their visual counterparts. Frankly they are annoying. The theme tune is repetitive especially if you leave the start menu open whilst completing another task and Billy and his companions speak only in a gibberish language with terms such as "Eegaay" which can be quite frustrating when trying to focus. However this adds to its childish appeal and is suitable pertaining to the child like appeal of the character design as well as the cuteness of the animal figures and costumes.
Overall this is definitely a game I would recommend. It is varied and interesting on all parts if not a little frustrating. I must admit as an adult it is difficult to enjoy this game and escape the dreaded swearing fits that seem impossible to avoid if one is to complete the game. Certain levels are especially difficult but this adds to its complexity and will definitely suit certain types of gamers. Similarly the earlier levels are not too easy and yet work with an entry level gamer as you are advised throughout by small chicks you offer you advice. This is a nice way to ease a child into the gameplay and may help to reduce some of the frustration. I must admit though it is incredibly difficult and a game I come back to all these years since we bought it.
While Nintendo led a successful foray of 3D platforming with Mario 64, Sega just havent seemed to be able to grasp the transition from 2D to 3D. There is no doubting the brilliance of Sonic in his 2D form but the Sonic Adventure games on the Dreamcast never really seemed to gel well enough as a game. Sonic Heroes, while more polished, still doesnt retain the Sonic charm that was apparent in the old games. Billy Hatcher was meant to be the start of a whole new franchise for the Sonic Team but it failed to shine gaining lukewarm reviews and shockingly poor sales figures. So, what went wrong?
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is from the creative minds of Sonic Team and Yuji Naka so the pedigree for a good, solid platformer is there in names at least. You take control of a young lad called Billy who has unwittingly taken it upon himself to save Morning Land from the nasty crows. Morning Land, you see, is in trouble. The chicken elders have been captured and without them morning can never come thus basking the words of the chickens in constant twilight. It is up to Billy, with the aid of a chicken suit, to try and rescue the elders and restore peace to Morning Land. Billy, however, is a rather weak little kid so to fight and get around most levels he must take control of the eggs dotted around the worlds to try and save Morning Land. The story wont win any prizes and it certainly wont dissuade from certain people thinking the GameCube is a console for kids but Billy Hatcher is still a challenging and, at times, quite fun little game to test any platform gaming fan.
The game certainly starts off well. It seems confident and it looks enjoyable. Rolling an egg around and squishing enemies with it is as entertaining as it sounds. Soon you are spinning with your egg in the air, shooting through tubes and making them grow with the aid of some fruit. The eggs work quite well in the game and they behave as you would think eggs would, they roll around, they can break and they can hatch. Hatching eggs reveals either special animals with abilities (such as wind, fire, water), which can help you progress over some obstacles. Or power ups such as increased attack. Its all very amusing. In the game you traverse through six different themed worlds and they will have set objectives for each. This is where the game falls down somewhat. The first two objectives will always be rescuing the elder then making your way to the boss. The other objectives could be defeating a certain amount of enemies, racing against some character or rescuing some caged chickens. It is discouraging to see that the same objectives will be used in each different world. There are only a few world-specific objectives and they are very easily completed compared to the others. It also isnt fun when you complete a task that takes ages (rescuing the chickens) and having to work your way to the chicken emblem (a red shiny thing you get after each successful mission) only to die and then having to restart. The game is fun to play but more variety really would have helped rather than repeating things over and dumping them in a new world. Luckily you dont have to play every mission to progress to the end so its not as if youre forced to repeat yourself all the time.
Platform games are enough to test a saints patience let alone us mere mortals. Its all part and parcel of the genre, you jump, you make it or you jump and you die. Its annoying but ultimately rewarding in the end and the challenge is always welcome. The challenge is not welcome, however, when it comes to buggy programming and sheer annoyance. While egg control for the most part is well handled sometimes it can be dammed annoying. Jumping with an egg to get to a ledge will, quite a number of times, leave the edge on the ledge and then you stuck down on the ground where you began. This then means you have to go back for another egg and hopefully make it to the top with it this time. As the difficultly ramps up so does the annoyance. In later levels there are some unforgivable sections, especially on rails, where you must balance the egg perfectly to avoid it falling off and breaking and having to go back and do it time and time again seriously depletes your will to live. The age-old problem of the camera doesnt help matters. Sega never got it right with the Sonic Adventure games and the camera here is still some way off from being perfect. There is some degree of manual control but sometimes the camera tends to switch to helpful angles all too often and it can be disorientating to say the least. Also with a massive egg in front of you vision can be impaired and also when you are in battles the camera seems to be zoomed in too close to the action for you not to be able to see oncoming enemies.
The worlds of Billy Hatcher are certainly bright and colourful and, while they arent the biggest places to run around in, there is certainly plenty to do in each of them. While we do get the generic styles of levels (snow, fire etc) they are still full of nice little details and oodles of charm. Visuals do tend to let themselves down in some areas though. Character models, especially enemies, are very low on polygons and some enemies seem nothing more than big blobs with a face stuck on them. Also while the worlds are colourful and bold the texture quality and detail in some is quite poor. On numerous occasions, most notably when a lot of enemies appear on screen, the framerate dips. This, quite frankly, is unacceptable, as the graphics themselves arent pushing the GameCube to anywhere near its limit so slowdown shouldnt be an issue. It certainly isnt the worst looking GameCube game out there and the graphics to look pleasant enough but more could have been done.
Living up to its sickening cuteness in style the sound element of the game is very, very twee. You need only have to go to the title screen and the very infectious theme tune will be playing its merry sounds and a chicken will make its noise every time you push an option. Very cute though some may find it a tad too overbearing. Sound effects are fine and the in-game music is also pretty much as catchy as the main theme. Billy and his friends may say too much garbled words, which can annoy but blends in well with the rest of the game. The sound is still a thing all people may not welcome but thats what mute buttons were made for.
While the main game can be fairly short Sega have bundled in a few extras along the way. There is the multiplayer aspect side of things that, if you have a few friends over, is quite entertaining and some time has gone into making it play nicely as well as being fun rather than just being tacked on. Games modes can range from a deathmatch style of play when you try and roll over the other players to a competition to see who can hatch the most eggs. Also throughout the game you can find special eggs that unlock mini games for your GameBoy Advance. These games, which include Chu Chu Rocket and Nights, can be downloaded to your GBA via the GameCube to GBA link cable. The game also has a Pokemon catch em all vibe as you try and hunt and hatch every egg that is in the game to see what prize awaits you inside it. Some are more cunningly hidden than others such as the GBA game eggs and also youll need to work hard to be able to hatch the special Sonic Team eggs that could have Billy and Sonic himself team up together.
Despite there being plenty of criticisms I couldnt help but like the game when I wasnt swearing at it. Its certainly got the Sega feel to it, bold, brash and at times annoying. The game is great to play for short bursts and before it gets too hard for its own good. There is also clear potential there to make it a great platform game. As it stands though Billy Hatcher is competent but flawed. All too soon it will become too annoying and all the little glitches soon ebb away the initial shine. I, for one, would welcome a sequel so that Sega could spend time ironing out the flaws although due to poor sales it doesnt look likely. By all means if you are a fan of Sega and platform games in general you should give this game a look but youll come away thinking about what it could have been.
[6 out of 10]
BILLY HATCHER AND THE GIANT EGG IS
BILLY HATCHER AND THE GIANT EGG IS NOT
Good for people trying to cut down on swearing
Sonic, Phantasy Star, Samba Da Amigo and NiGHTS all share one fundamental similarity besides their obvious greatness, they are all made by Sonic Team. So when Sonic Team announce a new game we all sat up and listened. What is it? Well as it transpired It is ANOTHER platformer... and after the disappointments of the Sonic Adventure games we all sat back down again. And then we heard it was about rolling around eggs, hatching them and fighting evil crows whilst wearing a magical chicken suit. So naturally I bought it without hesitation. And I have no regrets. Billy Hatcher has to rescue his friends and the special Chickens that can bring Morning back to the world and defeat the evil crows. Combined with magical chicken suits, colourful backdrops and simple controls you would be correct in thinking this is a Children's game. But with addictive, fast paced gameplay not that dissimilar to Sonic, a comical, tongue in cheek approach to the storyline and some fantastic downloadable GBA games anyone of any ages can love this game. Yep that means you. Graphically you have traditional bright colours that you've come to expect from Sonic Team but with a level of detail that even surpasses the recent Sonic Heroes. The game also uses a wide array of clever special effects from heat waves to invisibility effects, which look stunning. Sound wise you are treated to an array of cheery tunes you've come to expect from platfomers along with the occasional voiced effort of "Good Morning". Typical platform fare really, but it is the gameplay where Billy Hatcher comes into its own. Billy is pretty much useless as a character, he need to have an egg at his disposal in order to transgress the brilliantly designed puzzle laden levels. The egg rolling system is pretty nifty and creates some fantastic fast paced gameplay and puzzles. The only niggle comes when you decide to go backwards because reality dictates that Billy has to let go of the e
gg. By rolling over various fruit the egg will hatch, either into a special item, nothing or a monster. The monsters work in a similar vein to Pokemon with Water, Fire, Ice and Electric varieties. Iced over item? No problem find a fire egg, hatch it and burn the ice away. Are jets of fire stopping you from progressing? Hatch one of the water monsters and put the flames out. There are many puzzles like this throughout the game and you have a wide array of monsters to discover to help you, which are also very useful for defeating baddies. You can even unlock SEGA favourites Tales, Sonic, NiGHTS and Samba. The controls are excellent, the puzzles are clever and the gameplay is thick and fast. But that is not all the game offers, you also have a pretty nifty multiplayer which is worth a shot and a collection of downloadable GBA games via the GBA-GC connection lead. These games include Billy hyper shoot, which is a bit like space invaders, the classic puzzler Chu Chu Rocket and even SEGA Saturn favourite NiGHTS. The game is a fantastic package and good fun too, sure it's no Mario but nevertheless a fantastic return to form for the Sonic Team. Dringo
I got this game 2 weeks ago and havn't been able to put it down since. as if the idea of guiding a boy wearing a chicken suit around isn't strange enough, you also have to push huge eggs around at the same time. It has a very sonic adventure feel to it. The graphics are very similar to SA and at the end of every level you get an emblem (just like in SA). It is made by sonic team tho. Multiplayer is brilliant. Hatch mode requires you run around, hatching as many animals as you can. first to the set number of points wins. theres also a race mode and a timed hatch mode. This game is so much fun for kids and adults. I strongly recommend this title to anyone who owns a gamecube and it's also another great reason to get one.