At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Matt Bailey GameCube Sega Sega (Sonic Team) 1-4 (Split screen) Here
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Memory Card: 2 Blocks Game Boy Advance and GC-GBA link cable for mini-games Click here to buy Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg review

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg might sound like a strange and rather childish name for a game, but when you consider it comes out of the studios of the Sonic Team, you'll understand why. The team, famous for their platforming classics, have long been known for aiming at younger audiences, while also managing to appeal to the older audience, particularly those who like their niche Sega games.

The story sees darkness fall, and an evil King seeking to rule with an everlasting night. He has captured the creatures that inhabit the lands, and you play as a young boy called Billy Hatcher who controls special eggs in order to restore light to the land. And how do you control these eggs, through the power of legendary chicken suit, of courseā€¦ OK, so it sounds like quite a strange concept, but do bare in mind the above paragraph; Sonic Team are aiming at a low age group with this. While in control of the eggs, you can use them to destroy enemies, and pick up food for the egg. The egg will grow as you gain food, eventually allowing you to hatch it, revealing special abilities and items, including a bonus I will talk about later on. There are even creatures you can 'collect' which have useful abilities, such as being able to freeze enemies, and these add to your egg-bearing moves. The movement is controlled well by the GameCube's analogue stick; it's small nature perfectly suits the movement of the egg. While away from the egg, Billy also has the ability to run, jump, and hang from edges, but without an egg, he can't activate switches, defeat enemies, or use the jump hoops, so it's thankful there's plenty of eggs lying around.

The physics of the game, despite being a 'cutesy' platformer are actually quite remarkable. The eggs wobble, bounce, and crack, and their rolling motion feels quite realistic. The game itself is a varied mix of platforming and puzzling, as you seek to work out the best way to complete a level without missing on any of its hidden gems. It's certainly fun and challenging stuff, although later in the game, you can't help but feel things are getting slightly repetitive. The worlds may be varied, but the goals are not, and the story itself just seems to move the proceedings along, rather than have any real impact on them. Of course, citing back to the younger player's audience I've mentioned, these things aren't as much of an issue; complex and impacting stories often considered by younger children to be getting in the way of the fun.

One extra that's likely to please, is the special bonus I was referring to earlier; the hidden Game Boy Advance mini-games. In some of the game's levels there are eggs which, when hatched, provide you not with an item or an ability, but with a mini GBA icon. After collecting this item and completing the level, an option appears on the world select screen, where you can select it, and via the wonders of the GC-GBA link cable, download it to your GBA, thus allowing you to play a Sega mini-game without any cartridge. You can enjoy a 25-level sample of Chu Chu Rocket, have some blob popping action in Puyo Pop, and there's also a NiGHTS into Dreams mini-game among others. Of course, it's only downloaded to temporarily into RAM, so you lose it when you turn off, but you can always re-download the game, or to protect your scores, each game comes with a sleep mode that shuts off the display (and with the GBA SP's charger, you could leave the machine on forever).

Another feature of the game aside from the main story mode is the multiplayer. Unlike what you may expect, it's not just a simple tagged-on extra that Sonic Team have given us. Instead, the multiplayer offers a lot of fun, with up to four players taking on arenas filled with eggs, and a range of challenges. These include flattening your opponents with grown eggs, to trying to grow the most eggs in a limited time. Pushing and shoving people off edges becomes a common, but laughable event, and the whole mode seems to provide a lot of fun, especially considering the primary marketing focus of the game seems to be towards the game's single player aspects.

In the graphics department, Billy Hatcher certainly looks like your typical Sonic Team game. It draws on a similar style to the Sonic Adventure games or the upcoming Sonic Heroes. The character design leaves a lot to be designed, but the characters themselves are well animated, and crisp in quality. Having said that, the graphics still don't appear to have leaped much further than the Dreamcast, leaving you with the feeling that the GameCube could offer the game much more visually. The game's camera, unfortunately, has its problems - as with all 3D Sonic Team games so far - but the issues aren't likely to hinder gameplay too much.

Reviewed by Matt Bailey

Ratings

Graphics Character design could have been better, but the animation and textures are pretty good. There is still room for improvement though, as the GameCube does have more power to offer. 7/10
Gameplay It's fun, and works well. A good mix of puzzle and platforming. Multiplayer, too, is very enjoyable. The camera is slightly annoying though. 7/10
Value At the time of writing, we did not have a value for money ranking. 0/10
Lifespan The single player mode isn't that long, but you have a challenge to get all the special eggs, including the hidden GBA games. And there's the multiplayer mode. 8/10
Audio There is no better way to put it than very annoying. You'll be reaching for the volume decrease button on your remote. 4/10
Overall Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is a Sonic Team game will suited to the GameCube. The graphics style, and the control nature, means it works well on the console. The game is one which is worth picking up for both Sega and platforming fans alike. 7/10

Click here to buy Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg from Amazon.co.uk.

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