Friday, August 27, 2010

Review: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker


It has recently come to my attention that many of you, despite owning a Gamecube or Wii, and being fans of the Zelda series, have still not played The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. If I may ask, what the hell have you been doing with your life?! This discrepancy in the gaming community is shocking, and I will not stand for it. So, let's fix that. I am going to show you today that this is not the black sheep of the main Zelda franchise, and why you need to play this game. Aside from Majora's Mask, The Wind Waker is likely the most controversial title in the series, which is likely the reason people stray away from it. But, I'm not only going to tell you that this is a legitamite title in the series, but how it may be one of it's best.

Gameplay

The Wind Waker plays similarly to its Nintendo 64 predecessors, The Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, which is a very good thing. You can still assign weapons to 3 different controller buttons [X, Z, and Y, in this case], and the controls remain similar, except for a few improvements. There is now a much easier-to-control difference between tiptoeing, walking, and running, because of the Gamecube's more accurate analog stick. There have been some rather nice changes to combat, as well. Link can now perform actions such as parry attacks, which let him dodge an enemy's attack, and strike back. For some enemies, this is a necessary tactic to defeat them, but for the most part, hacking and slashing will do just fine. So, yes, the combat remains mostly unchanged from the standard Zelda formula. But that's not what I want to talk about. The thing that really sets Wind Waker apart from the crowd; sailing. As you probably know, the game allows you to sail around a huge world map to 49 different islands. I always thought that this was the game's strongest point. Zelda games have always tried to give the player a vast world to explore, and this is the epitome of that idea. You could spend hours traversing the Great Sea, searching in every nook and cranny. I spent a good few days just completing the map! While some may find it boring, I think it gives you a real sense of adventure that is uncommon to find in most games. I should probably move on before I start to ramble about this, though. You will find equipment similar to what you have used in previous games, so it should feel familiar. One of the bigger additions to the game is the Wind Waker itself; a baton that you use to control the direction of the wind to sail more effectively, or solve puzzles. The method of doing so is similar to Ocarina of Time, where you must memorize musical patterns, and play them back. Nothing new there, but it is still just as good.

Gameplay: 9.5/10



Story

Little has changed about the central plot of Wind Waker in comparison to the other games in the Legend of Zelda series. You still play as a young, nameless boy [although most people just prefer to call him Link] who wears a green tunic, and must kill the evil Ganondorf/Ganon and save Princess Zelda. Now that that's out of the way, let's look at what is unique to The Wind Waker. Link is a boy living on Outset Island with his sister and grandmother. But one day, a giant bird flies over the island, carrying the captain of a pirate ship. Link goes off to rescue her, which eventually leads to the bird capturing Link's sister. The pirate crew allows Link aboard so he can rescue his sister in the bird's lair. That's about as much as I can say without giving any spoilers, but as you progress, it eventually leads to Link having to save the entire world from Ganon's plans. Standard fare for the series; it's what we have come to expect from a quality Zelda title. It doesn't have the deep, emotional narratives of an RPG, but it is what it is, and it is still a great one.

Story: 8/10



Sound

I'll cut right to the chase; The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has arguably the best soundtrack of any Zelda game. That's a controversial statement, I know, but I can back it up. Since the Gamecube was Nintendo's first disc-based console, they were free to use that extra space to make disc-quality audio. This makes for a truly sublime soundtrack that captures the moment of every single situation in the game. Sometimes, I just leave the game sit at the title screen so I can hear the main theme! Now, don't get me wrong; there have been some breathtaking soundtracks in the Zelda series, but it is my opinion that The Wind Waker takes the cake. There are just so many songs that give an adventurous, bold, yet fun feeling, which is the embodiment of the Zelda series as a whole. Never have the songs in a Zelda game felt more powerful and suitable. You have to hear it to believe it, and when you do, my arguement will start to make sense. The music in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is on an entirely different level than most games. It's just not something you find everyday, and you appreciate it when you do.

Sound: 10/10

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Graphics

One of the most controversial aspects of The Wind Waker was its drastically different art style. The Zelda games on the Nintendo 64 seemed to strive as much as they could for realism, but The Wind Waker adapts a more cartoon-like style. This decision has divided the Zelda fan base since the game's unveiling. I'm here to tell you that the only people who don't like The Wind Waker's graphics are people who haven't played the game. It is obvious that Nintendo put a lot of time and effort into creating some of the most artistically pleasing graphics on the system. The Wind Waker's visuals are clean, well-defined, and polished to no end. The draw distance while sailing is phenomenal; the Great Sea really seems to on forever, and you can see islands from several miles away, not counting what you can see with the telescope. It's incredible to actually be able to see your destination well before you're near it. In this way, the art style was a good decision not just in appearance, but was actually some elegant programming and system resource management. There aren't many complicated textures in many of the graphics, especially in the ocean, so the draw distance and framerate would benefit greatly. Well done, Nintendo. Oh, and the game runs in 480p if you're lucky enough to have a component cable, and it's a fairly big improvement, especially in 2D sections like the menus, where it is a night and day difference. If you got a component cable just for this game, it would already be worth it. So, The Wind Waker's graphics are both an artistic and technical triumph.

Graphics: 10/10



Extras/Value

There are plenty of side quests in The Wind Waker, so you'll always have something to work towards. After completing the game once, you unlock the second playthrough mode, which gives you special bonuses such as Link wearing his pajamas throughout the whole game, letting you use the Color Pictobox [Camera] from the start, and translating all Hylian text into English. There is also a figurine-collecting quest that requires you to obtain photographs of different things in the game to have them made into figurines. In case you were wondering, yes, it is very difficult to collect all of them. Also, there is the Zelda tradition of the item trading game. The Wind Waker is currently being sold for $20 at Gamestop, but it doesn't matter what the price is. Buy it. You will not regret it; I assure you.

Extras: 9/10

TheLeagenOfZeldaWindWaker-4.png The Leagen Of Zelda Wind Waker image by plasmasoul1





Overall

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is one of the definitive titles for the Nintendo Gamecube, and it certainly deserves that accolade. The game is a masterpiece, with polish and craftsmanship apparent in every single one of its aspects. I have completed it three times already, and I loved every minute of it. The game is completely undeserving of all the hate it has received. If you have yet to play The Wind Waker, now is the time. Stop ignoring the game because of its art style, or whatever preconceptions you may have, get yourself down to a game store, buy the game, and play it. It's about time you did.




Overall: 9.5/10

This is Lisalover1, trying to pretend the CD-i Zelda games don't exist.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Best Cancelled Gamecube Games

The launch of a new console is always an exciting event; a whole new era of promise and opportunity awaits for each new competitor in the console wars, with countless titles and accessory hardware announced. It's often easy for some things to get caught up and lost in this chaos. Unfortunately, sometimes this does happen. Certain titles that catch the eye of gamers never see the light of day, and fade into obscurity. For some, it is best that they stay lost, because they never showed much potential in the first place, but for some games, it is a real shame they are never released. These are the games that would have likely been very good additions to the system's library, and that should really be remembered. These are the best cancelled Gamecube games.


Thunder Rally


What Was It?:
Thunder Rally is a car combat game created by Iguana Entertainment [Later bought by Nintendo and renamed Retro Studios], and was one of the earliest planned titles for the Gamecube, all the way back in 1998, when the system was barely a prototype, and was codenamed "Dolphin". On a side note, this game was the initial reason Retro Studios was formed. The gameplay in Thunder Rally consists of a mash-up between Twisted Metal and Battlebots, in which the player can build a car, and drive it through a city, destroying other cars. Sounds simple right? Well, that's correct, but it's not the main draw of the game. TR was designed to include 4-player split screen mode, and have 4-player online play as well, making it possibly the first Gamecube game planned to have online multiplayer! The game also features very sharp graphics, from what is shown in early screenshots.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Shortly after Retro Studios was established, and began working on games for the Gamecube, Nintendo ordered a massive reorganization of the company, which changed most of the company's staff, resources, and projects. Unfortunately, Thunder Rally, along with about 3 other titles, and Metroid Prime being the only one of these that was ever released. I would have loved to have played this game; as I have said in previous articles, the Gamecube was hurting for online games throughout its entire lifespan, and anything would have helped.


Kirby Adventure

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What Was It?:
Kirby fans had to wait until 2005 for Nintendo to finally announce a Kirby platformer for the Gamecube. At E3 of that year, a trailer for "Kirby Adventure" was shown, and it seemed to be everything people expected from the series, but the exception being it taking advantage of the Gamecube's 4 controller ports. Kirby Adventure was supposed to allow 4-player simultaneous Co-Op, building upon the 2-player Co-Op introduced in the SNES Kirby games. The other 3 players controlled enemies Kirby has swallowed and discarded, making them allies. The game was meant to take the best aspects of the SNES and N64 Kirby titles, and update it for the more powerful Gamecube hardware. The graphics would be in full 3D, but gameplay would take place on a 2D plane, like in Kirby 64, and said gameplay seems to leave the formula mostly unchanged, with all the series' common conventions remaining.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Kirby Adventure was an exciting title for Gamecube owners, and they were anxious to get their hands on it. Then... nothing. Other than delay announcements, Nintendo barely said anything after the game's initial showing at E3 '05, and fans were left in the dark. In the end, with the exception of the Game Boy Color, the Gamecube became the first [and only] major Nintendo console without a Kirby Platformer. No one is really sure why Nintendo cancelled Kirby Adventure, but most speculate that it was because they were focusing their efforts on the upcoming Revolution/Wii, and new games for it. In short, the game came too late in the GC's life to have a chance at being released. Oh, well. At least Kirby: Epic Yarn is coming to the Wii soon, so fans have that to look forward to.


Raven Blade


Raven Blade Picture

What Was It?:
After the N64 era, Nintendo was really starting to feel the hurt caused by the lack of RPGs on their consoles after the departure of Squaresoft to side with Sony's Playstation. Thus, they aimed to remedy this with the Gamecube, although they ultimately failed at achieving this goal. The best example of this was a game called Raven Blade. It was meant to be a Western Action RPG exclusive to the Gamecube, meant to be the first in a series of GC-exclusive games to fill out the console's RPG library. The game looked quite good, even in its beta phase, with impressive graphics and animation. The gameplay was meant to play like the acrobatics of Prince of Persia, combined with the framework of an Action RPG, to make something that made Gamecube owners proud. Too bad it got cancelled.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Remember how I mentioned how Retro Studios had a huge restructuring and reorganization, and several games were cancelled? This was one of them. So, the same story applies as with Thunder Rally. It's Nintendo's loss, and Gamecube gamers' losses, too. The only good thing that came out this is that Metroid Prime probably became a much better game through Retro Studios focusing on it.


Kameo: Elements of Power


What Was It?:
Kameo was a title announced around the Gamecube's launch, and was predicted to be an early hit title for the 'Cube. Rare actually had many ambitious projects planned for the Gamecube, until they were bought out by Microsoft, and almost of them were scrapped. If you want my opinion, Rare becoming a Microsoft subsidiary company really killed their creativity and their spirit. But enough of that. Kameo was an action game in which you control a girl who can turn into different monsters to solve different puzzles, and defeat enemies. The monster changing system was actually quite interesting, as you could also summon some of these monsters to fight with you in battle. The game continues with Rare's distinctive cartoony art style, and it seemed to fit quite well with the game.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
As I said before, Kameo for the GC was cancelled because Microsoft acquired Rare in 2002, ending or heavily delaying most of their next-generation projects. The only game that Rare was allowed to finish for the Gamecube was Star Fox Adventures, which marked the very last Rareware game made for a Nintendo home console. They were permitted to continue making games for Nintendo's portable systems, but even that may change soon, with Microsoft launching Windows Phone 7. It's hard to believe that a once great developer like Rareware can go from making classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country to making crap like Kinect Sports. *Sigh*... Anyway, Kameo was eventually released as an Xbox 360 launch title.


Dead Phoenix

File:DeadPhoenixScreenShotIGN01.jpg

What Was It?:
Dead Phoenix was an unreleased game by Capcom planned as a Gamecube exclusive, along with 4 other exclusive games, collectively known as the Capcom Five. Four of these 5 were eventually released, although 3 of them were eventually ported to the PS2. Dead Phoenix was supposed to be a hack-and-slash action game in which the character can fly around. Think "Dynasty Warriors" with wings. There were also Panzer Dragoon-esque shooting segments to the game, as well, as you can see above. While very little, if any, information was released about the game, it seems to have been shaping up to be a very fun and impressive game, with Gamecube graphics that we can only expect from Capcom.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
I honestly have no idea why Dead Phoenix was cancelled. Capcom never released any reasons for its cancellation, so there's nothing to speculate on. It's not like Capcom lacked the resources to make the game, so that's not a possibility. We'll never really know why Dead Phoenix was cancelled, at least until Capcom says something, which isn't likely to happen. Sorry, but I just don't have anything more to say.

Unity


What Was It?:
I saved the best for last. Which, in this context, makes it the most tragic that it was never released. Unity was a psychadelic and wild game, combining aspects from Rez, Defender, and Tempest. Suitably enough, it was created in part by Jeff Minter, who created the latter. However, it was also created by Peter Molyneux, which pretty much doomed the game to a lack of a release since day one. The game had two different gameplay segments; the first of which resembled the classic shooter, Defender, in which the player can move his ship forward and backward across the screen, shooting down enemy ships. That part is pretty basic, and we've all seen it before, but the second part puts the player's ship on a circular tunnel, and they must move around it and shoot enemies as they approach. Switching between these two styles was to keep players constantly on their toes. The presentation is phenomenal, with hundreds of glowing lights and sounds surrounding you at all times, which is highly reminiscent of Sega's classic shooter, Rez. I was seriously having trouble believing this was actually a Gamecube game.

Why Was It Cancelled?:
Two words: Peter Molyneux.


Well, that's it for now. Looking back at all of these games, it is easy to see that the Gamecube was a well of untapped potential. At least we can see that some developers tried at pushing the limits of the little purple lunchbox. Let these games forever live on in our memory as what could have and what should have been. And who knows? Maybe someday a few beta versions of these games may pop up on the internet, and we may be able to experience at least a little bit of them. It's entirely possible, and in these cases shown above, I certainly hope so.


This is Lisalover1, desperately seeking a Radio Allergy beta disc.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest


It seems that there are games for every system that everyone knows about and are simply essential games for owning that system. they are regarded by most as the best games for the system. Then there are games that no one has heard about, but can still be very enjoyable. Cubivore is the epitome of a hidden gem. It is made by Atlus, a company well-known for taking risks, much to the joy of their fans. Cubivore is a game you don't see everyday; it came way out of left field, and is a welcome surprise to Gamecube owners. So, what exactly is Cubivore, and why should you care?


Gameplay

In Cubivore, you control a small pig-like cube-shaped animal, which must eat food other animals to survive. It is a very weird gameplay style, but it works well. You have a health meter that is replenished by eating other animals, which adds a sense of tension to stay alive while playing. When you eat other animals, your animal mutates, usually resulting in the repositioning of the square "limbs" on its body. In later levels, it gives your animal certain statistical bonuses as well. You can eat different combinations of animals to fine-tune what characteristics and abilities you would like to have, which gives the game a good amount of depth when you want to get the most out of the game's gameplay system. At the start of some levels, if you defeated and ate the right material from the previous level's boss, your animal has the option to mate, and create offspring that is stronger, faster, and has an extra limb. The child's statistics are based off your decisions and eating habits of the previous level, and also affects what kind of offspring he can have as well. It is a very deep and fun-to-use system if you get the hang of it. You have to actually plan out your method of progression for some levels in order to survive. You can get through the first few levels pretty easily, but some of the later ones can give you a bit of a challenge to figure out the best plan of attack. All I can say is that Cubivore has one of the more unique and interesting set of gameplay concepts that I have seen. It is a real treat for those who want something out of the ordinary.

Gameplay: 8.5/10


Story

"I want to be alive. That was the first thought I ever had." This is the opening line in Cubivore, said by the main character, right after he is born. He is a small creature called a Piggy, that, in his initial state, looks more like a tadpole. You can become other species eventually through the course of the game via breeding, but this is always what you start out as. The story of the game is about a horde of animals called the "Colorless", which devour the wilderness of the land, and take away its color. They are lead by a large, fearsome colorless beast, called the Killer Cubivore, which is the strongest animal in the land, and the ultimate villain of the game. Similar to what I said in the Billy Hatcher review, there's not much to Cubivore's story, because the gameplay takes center stage. The sole driving force behind the main character's actions are survival instinct, which gives the player a mindset as such; ignoring all other impulses, and doing everything to stay alive. It's very interesting to see a game do this, as I haven't seen it done very well before. There is barely any story beyond the first cutscenes, so the player is mostly left to himself, which gives the player time to think about his surroundings, and fill in the blanks of what little story there is by themselves. It is a good use of isolation in a game, which leads me to think that Atlus put a bit more work into this aspect of the game that may be immediately apparent.

Story: 7.5/10


Sound

The soundtrack of Cubivore is surprisingly calm and relaxing. Most of the tracks are serene and soothing, which is in stark contrast to the weird vibe the game gives off [or maybe not, depending on how you look at it]. Despite this odd design choice, I liked the music in Cubivore. It isn't anything special, but it gets the job done. The sound effects are not much to write home about either. Overall, there's not much to the audio in this game, and I've run out of things to say about it. Sorry.

Sound: 6.5/10


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Graphics

Not many people know this, but Cubivore, along with quite a few other Gamecube games, was originally an N64 game during development. The game was initially designed for the Nintendo 64 Disk Drive, which failed due to a very late release, and few games. Thus, Cubivore was bumped up to be released on the Gamecube. While the game definitely looks better in its finished form than what was shown in early screenshots of the N64 version, it's not by much. The game, while sporting a very unique and interesting art style, doesn't do all it can do to make it stand out. I would have loved to have seen more varied landscapes, with better and more creative use of the 3D-cubist art style. Instead, most of the game takes place on bland, plain wetlands. It's nice for the first couple levels, but gets boring fast. I really think that Atlus could have made the graphics in Cubivore something astonishing and eye-popping, but it almost feels like they quit the idea halfway through. I think a Cubivore sequel that fixes these problems would be a far better game. As it stands, Cubivore's graphics just feel like a good idea that wasn't executed right. Oh, well. At least the game supports 480p; a noticeable change from the N64 version.

Graphics: 6.5/10


Extras/Value

There's really not much else to Cubivore beyond the single-player campaign. There is no multiplayer mode, no minigames, or any other real extras to speak of. This is a real shame; a 4-player cubivore battle would have been cool. You could spend the first half of the match evolving your Cubivore how you like it, then the fighting taakes place in the second half, similar to the City Battles in Kirby Air Ride. I would have loved something like that, and it would make good use of the gameplay. Unfortunately, no such mode exists. Once again, a Cubivore sequel with this feature would rock. The game is currently priced at $13.00 at Gamestop. Not a fantastic deal, but not prohibitively expensive for a used Gamecube game. If you're interested, go buy it. I haven't seen this game around very much at all, so it might end up being one of the rarer games for the Gamecube. If you are a collector, you should keep an eye on this one.

Extras/Value: 5/10




Overall

Don't go into Cubivore expecting an action game that will knock your socks off, and that you will keep coming back to again and again. I admit it is a bit sub-par when compared to other hidden gem games, but it is still a fun and cool experience. I recommend Cubivore to anyone who wants something very different and out of the ordinary, and who is tired with other action games that all look the same. Cubivore isn't so much an Action RPG as it is a really advanced and brutal Tamagochi game. If that sounds interesting to you, then by all means, go and buy Cubivore. If not, you might want to see if you can still find it for rental; you'll still get a kick out of it.




Overall: 7/10


This is Lisalover1, promising to review something better next time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg


Sega's history after the Dreamcast is mostly regarded to be a sad one. Many fans felt abandoned by the company, who once was known for making very creative and fresh games that stood out in quality and had a lot of heart. Unfortunately, games such as these rarely sold well, and eventually forced Sega out of the console market altogether. Sega started to produce more cookie-cutter games to appease the masses, and lost a little bit of its soul in the process. But, every once in a while, even today, the company will release a game that has the brilliant and radically different appeal of what they used to be. In a word, it has the Sega spirit. Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is one of those games.


Gameplay

The gameplay in Billy Hatcher, at its core, is similar to games like Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, or Jak and Daxter, all of which fall under the sub-genre of 3D platformers nicknamed "Collect-A-Thons", due to the fact that the way to advance in these games is to collect certain trinkets for achieving goals in the game, eventually giving you access to new levels. In Billy Hatcher, you must collect Emblems of Courage in each world to advance. While that is the main premise of the game, the genius comes in how you play the levels. In the game, Billy Hatcher is given a Rooster Suit by the chicken god, which gives him the power... [pause for dramatic effect] of eggs. Throughout the adventure, Billy and his 3 friends can roll around eggs they find in the world, and use them as weapons, or roll over fruit, to make them grow, and eventually hatch them to use whatever item or power-up is inside. For example, hatching one type of egg summons a creature that you can use to attack large groups of enemies. Another egg type gives you a new rooster comb for the rooster suit, which augments an egg's attack power. There are over a hundred different eggs you can hatch, which gives the game a lot of variety.

The game uses the same game engine as in Sonic Adventure 2, and it shows. You are timed in each level, and scored based on your time, the number of eggs hatched, number of enemies defeated, and how many combos you preformed [by taking out multiple enemies in a single attack], and gives you a grade, accordingly. This kind of system creates an "I can do better" mentality that made the Sonic games fun long after you beat them. Each level gives you a new objective, and you must obviously complete that objective as quickly and efficiently as possible. I should mention that if you are the type that likes to speedrun through games, this is a good one to consider. There are plenty of tricks and secrets in each level that you can exploit to finish faster, and are a joy when you find them. The only major flaw I can say about the game is it has an uncooperative camera, which, especially when your egg is at full size, makes it hard to see around your and where you're going. Overall, Billy Hatcher will give you your fix for a good 3D platformer, if that is what you're after.

Gameplay: 7.5/10


Story

Not much to say here, but what do you expect; it's a platformer. Basically, Billy Hatcher is a normal kid who goes to see his friends one day, when they see a wounded chicken, about to be attacked by a crow. Billy saves the chicken, which turns out to be one of the guardians of Morning Land, the game's setting. The chicken god then gives Billy and his friends rooster suits, and gives them the task of saving Morning Land from the Crow Army. Soon after, Billy's friends are kidnapped, and Billy must free them, with one held in each of the first 3 worlds. By freeing his friends, new missions are unlocked in each world, where you play as them instead of Billy. As I said, it isn't much of a story, but a game like this doesn't need a very elaborate plot. It is what it is, and it's good for that purpose.

Story: 7.5/10


Sound

The soundtrack in Billy Hatcher is lighthearted and upbeat; it suits the game very well. It is very reminiscent of the music in games like Yoshi's Island or the Kirby series. It's just good music that makes you feel good. Even in boss fights, the tunes are distinctively juvenile [in a good way, though], with a clearly exaggerated tone that feels comical, yet dangerous, as if it was ripped right out of an old Batman cartoon. It's hard to explain, but you will understand when you hear it. If I had to describe the game's soundtrack in one word, it would be "Catchy". You'll probably find yourself humming the tunes later, and enjoying it. I must also say that the main theme of the game, while somewhat irritating, still got stuck in my head, and is fun to listen to.

The characters in Billy Hatcher have almost no voiced dialogue, with the only exceptions being for a few words and some exclamations. My only problem is that there are actually a bit too few of said sounds and exclamations, leading to some of them being noticeably recycled at points. But, for the most part, the characters open their mouths about as often as Mario, so don't worry about annoying Sonic-esque voices.

Sound: 8.5/10

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Graphics

Billy Hatcher is yet another fine-looking Gamecube game, running in 480p progressive scan, and boasting an exceptionally detailed opening FMV. The visuals in the game are colorful and cartoony, with very few sharp edges, making for some very virbant and lively scenery. The character and enemy models are creative and interesting, as are the bosses of each world, which are spectacular to see in motion. The graphics could have been a bit smoother, but that's just me looking for a flaw; there's always room for improvement in any game. While not among the ranks of some of the best graphics on the 'Cube, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg has an endearing art style that Sega has spent years trying to perfect through previous games.

Graphics: 8/10



Extras/Value

There are certainly a lot of neat extras in Billy Hatcher, enough to warrant the purchase alone! The first is the multiplayer battle mode, in which up to 4 players fight in an arena with eggs, in a standard last-man-standing fight. There are actually some pretty clever strategies you can come up with in this mode. For example, there is one egg exclusive to the multiplayer mode that lets you plant a fake egg that explodes when another player touches it. I like to place it in an empty egg nest [where new eggs spawn from in the game], so opponents can't tell the difference between the fake egg and the real egg. You can imagine how funny it is to watch. The multiplayer mode could have used a couple more arenas and features, but as it stands, it is solid, and well worth a play with your friends. It really reminded me of Donkey Kong 64's multiplayer battles, now that I think about it.

Another cool feature of the game is that it utilizes the Gamecube-to-Game Boy Advance link cable. If you had a GBA and link cable, you could upload minigames onto your GBA that stay there as long as you leave your GBA turned on. Some of the minigames are actually really good, in that except for length, they look and feel like actual GBA releases! The NiGHTS game alone is almost makes up for the lack of a real portable NiGHTS game. In fact, they're so good, I feel bad referring to them as minigames. Most of the games are scaled-down versions of classic Sega games, such as NiGHTS into Dreams, Puyo Puyo, Chu Chu Rocket, and even Billy Hatcher itself. Remember what I said about the Sega Spirit? This is what I mean. This is the Sega that we all know and love; the Sega that never forgets who they are, and who will always look after its fans. Unfortunately, it is also the Sega that rarely shows its face. But this is exactly what happens when it does. Once again, I cannot emphasize enough how well-made these minigames are! Actually, if I remember correctly, a while back, some hackers found a way to extract these games from the disc, and make them into actual GBA roms! Now that's saying something. Speaking of classic Sega, you can also hatch hidden Sega characters in certain stages, by getting all the hidden coins on that stage. You can use these characters to help you fight. Some of the characters you can unlock are NiGHTS, Amigo, Rappy [A common enemy in Phantasy Star Online], and of course, Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. There are a few more you can find, but I can't remember them right off-hand. Still, it shows that Sega really gave it their all with this game, down to the very last detail.

I would definitely say that Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is worth a purchase. It's currently only $5 at Gamestop, so you can buy it with just spare change. Most gamecube games can be had for very cheap prices right now, so if you're looking to beef up your GC library, you might want to start soon, before Gamestop stops carrying Gamecube games. So, get Billy Hatcher while you can, because you might not have the chance later, for the same price.

Extras/Value: 10/10



Overall

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is, for all purposes, the kind of game that defines who Sega is, was, and will always truly be. The Sega we normally see is not the real Sega; it is just its new parent company, Sammy. They took over, and things haven't been the same since. But, the real Sega is buried deep beneath that huge mass of shovelware and awful sequels. People are always talking about "the last great Sega game", but I have to disagree. There is no end to Sega, they will always be there, but they won't always be the ones in charge. But, Sega will try their hardest to give us the games that its' fans love, as often as they can. This game, along with a few others, are reminders to always let us know that they care. They really still care.




Overall: 8.5/10


This is lisalover1, off to go give my Sega Saturn the playtime it deserves.