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TSS REVIEW: Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg


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How do you like your eggs? Fried? Scrambled? Poached? On Toast? None of that for our plucky new hero, Billy Hatcher - he likes his eggs hatched, with a big fat old monster inside them. Erm, right.


Sonic Team's newest creation for several years, Billy Hatcher has all the charm of those chickens in the Legend of Zelda. Although, you don't want to stab him or anything.

The shameful thing is that Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg has been shunned by many Sonic fans because of the way it looks. As I always say, you're only a Sonic fan if you're willing to at least try anything Sonic Team throws at you, and those 'fakers' out there are really missing out on something special here.

Forget all those stupid conceptions about how 'naff' the game looks, or the cutesy graphics. Bet you any money the graphics in Yoshi's Island on the SNES didn't deter you from the absolute genius gameplay it contained.


As Billy, you are transported into Morning Land, a world inhabited with nothing but chickens - a farmer's nightmare, I'll bet. Billy is called to this place because of his courage - evil crows have come to overthrow the Morning Land as their own and turn the land into an eternal night. So, strapped into a magical chicken-y outfit, Billy Hatcher sets out to save the world.

The game plays a lot like a mix between Super Mario 64 and Super Monkey Ball. On your own, you can jump about and run some distance, but that's as far as your base ability goes. Wearing the chicken suit, you can grab hold of the many eggs in the stage, and roll it around to give you many more moves. Pressing the A button makes you jump higher than usual, while you can also perform a bounce jump, a dash with the R trigger, and many funky attack manoeuvres, including slamming into the ground and chucking the egg ahead of you to bump enemies on the bonce.

The game plays very smoothly indeed, and controlling the egg is perfect as Billy. However, there are some camera problems when playing some of the harder levels, which can get annoying sometimes. There's also a weird bug where, upon jumping up to a ledge with your egg, at times your egg gets put up on the ledge, but you fall down to where you started. But other than that, the entire game is a sheer joy to play.


Enemies pop up, and are pure 'Sonic Team' in design. You can perform combos with your egg - for example, if you hit one enemy with your egg, the enemy bounces around before going up in smoke. If that enemy hits others while flying, you can start a chain combo. When circles of baddies appear, you can hit one and knacker them all by way of domino effect. There are plenty of opportunities for combos (with animal taming, egg-attacking and egg hatching adding to your combo count), but it takes an advanced player to pull off so-called 'Rainbow' combos each time. This is the universal playing level of the game that Sonic Team has created in Billy Hatcher, and it's wonderful.

You can feed the eggs using fruit laid about the course of the stage - and many larger enemies spew forth some fruit when you knock their blocks off too. There are different egg types you can collect, and different eggs react differently to certain fruit, so a 'favourite fruit' will fatten one particular egg as quick as you can click your fingers, whereas the same fruit won't make much of a difference on a different egg. When fully fattened, you can use your Chicken Call to hatch the egg you hold.

Different eggs of different designs hold different things. You can get small animals, with a one-time passive power, which can be used with the Y Button. Chameleons, for example, make you invisible for a short time. You can also hatch items such as hats, and there are special animals that follow you about the stage. For those creatures, you can use the X Button to use their special power several times - and those powers are needed on occasion to proceed through the level.


For example, you can use penguin dude Clippen to douse flames, and flying monkey boy Recky to electrify something. You can also find HUGE animals that you can ride around the level, such as a wicked Ninja-looking Shark, to help you cross water. Pressing the X button makes you hop off their backs, but the B button can make them use their specialised attacks for as long as you require them.

The stages themselves are egg-cellently laid out, and make full use of the eggs you can find. There are roughly seven missions in each world, each one opening up a new section of the stage, making playthroughs all the more fun. The first mission of each world features the entire stage engulfed in night, with your task to rescue the Chicken Elders, who have been turned into golden eggs. Once you save them, it becomes morning once more.

Upon completing each mission, you earn a Courage Emblem, which are the equivalent of Stars in Mario 64. You can also find Chick Coins in each stage - collecting as many of these as you can will enable you to play with special Sonic Team oriented animals, including Chao, NiGHTS, Knuckles and even Sonic himself.


Other extras include Joy Carry games, in which you can link up a Game Boy Advance and download short games such as Puyo Pop, ChuChu Rocket! and NiGHTS Score Attack.

As if that wasn't enough, Billy Hatcher also comes complete with a formidable multi-player mode. Unlike the Sonic games, which have all been below-par multiplayer experiences (save for Sonic 3's Head to Head), this game has real multiplayer potential. The fact that the lineup is exactly representative of the Super Monkey Ball character lineup just proves that Sonic Team had this with a multiplayer in mind: Billy is the all-rounder, Rolly is the nimble girl, Chick is the young'un (also a bit of a cheeky bleeder, watch out for him), and Bantam's the big fat git.

You can play a simple deathmatch, where rolling eggs into each other's faces becomes ample entertainment - having your opponent run in terror as you unleash your animal's attack is sheer fun. You can also indulge in a timed battle option, and a 'Hatching' mode where you have to hatch the most eggs in the time limit (this is where you get hold of the BIG monsters - chasing someone on the back of a huge lion/kangaroo crossbreed is an experience unfound in any other game). The multiplayer mode complements the solo game very well.


A game like this has some control issues, as explained before, and the general difficulty of the game later on will cause some impatience issues. But in general this game will be one of the lightest and freshest games in recent years.

I have a bad feeling this game will be under-appreciated amongst fans, which is a crying shame because if any gamer should have learnt by now it's not to judge a game by face value. Rent Billy Hatcher, get addicted to it, then buy it. It's as simple as that. Soon you'll be singing that sickenly stupid (but DAMN good) theme tune like nobody else. Hey, I have the tune on my mobile phone, so. =) Worth a purchase, definitely.

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  • 19 years later...

I come from 20 years in the future...the distant year of 2023. Billy Hatcher sets humans on a collision course with an AI takeover and therefore must be TERMINATED. Come with me if you want to live.

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