What? Are you chicken?
Sega has unveiled its wacky side once again with Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Billy is a boy dressed in a chicken suit who rolls around and hatches eggs to meet various goals.
Billy really can't do much by himself so the gameplay truly revolves around the eggs. You roll over obstacles and enemies, toss eggs like a yo-yo to attack from a distance, jump and do "egg drop" piledrivers on switches, and use eggs to go through rubber loops that bounce you up in a fashion similar to the red springs in Sonic.
As you roll about the level, you'll roll over various fruits that somehow feed the egg. As you fill the egg-meter, the egg will grow larger and larger until it's ready to hatch. Then, if you want to hatch it, you press the R trigger to call the creature out of the egg. The creatures we spotted were a penguin that could make a splash of water to put out fires and a seal that had a widespread ice attack. Both of the animals' attacks were also quite effective against enemies.
Graphically, the game looks very nice. Textures aren't overly complex, but everything runs clean and smooth with a lot of small details in the animation. There is a brilliant snow level in the demo that has you rolling around not an egg, but a snowball. You need to take that snowball and roll it around until it's large enough to be a proper head for the snowman nearby. The beautiful thing is that as it picks up snow, you leave soft paths in the snow on the ground, revealing an icy brick surface underneath. It's a nice detail that adds to the fun of the level since you can roll around and draw pictures in the snow and whatnot.
The controls were quite responsive, and thank goodness you can use the L trigger to center your camera, unlike some other Sega games. However, it is tricky to learn to work with the egg's momentum when rolling around, and you have to learn how to time your jumps correctly, and not to accidentally roll a key egg off a platform.
Billy Hatcher is turning into a well-polished platformer, and although it has a fruity theme that may turn off some gamers, it is truly a lot of fun and worth checking out later this year.