Monty and Morgion 070: Storytime with Morgion:
Raiders of the Lox Ark

21Nov03 (Monthenor): That there backdrop is the newest dorm on campus, a very swank place that can almost not be called a dorm. They recently put up those two cheap-looking bison posts, because I guess at a university where the math department is underfunded and the computer science department is about three teachers short of accreditation standards (ssh! not until I graduate for good!) we have too much extra money.

This week's rental conquest is brought to you by Sonic Team. Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg spins a bizarre tale about, strangely enough, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Young Billy saves a chicken from crows with a stick, and is magically transported to Morning Land, a land inhabited by talking chickens and their disturbing genetic experiments. They are under attack from an evil crow army, and the Chicken God (yes, really) has brought you here to save the realm. You are granted the Legendary Chicken Suit, and sadly your crow-whuppin' stick is never seen again.

Billy Hatcher diverges from recent platforming canon by not having a wise-cracking partner that lives on your back, unlike these three. You play as Billy and occasionally his three friends, rolling and feeding eggs to acheive your anti-crow agenda. The eggs really take center stage, as Billy never actually speaks a word, and the voice acting is a throwback to the cutesy gibberish of Banjo Kazooie. Unfortunately the eggs are never used to their full potential. It's mostly a matter of finding a nearby egg and rolling it over things...rarely do you need to use the more advanced Shoot and Butt-stomp moves. Puzzles are lacking and mostly of the "roll egg over switch" variety. There are only two notable exceptions: Generic Ice Level has a mission where you have to roll up a snowball to complete a snowman, and the last board has two minor puzzle rooms that are inspired. It's difficult to say this about a game where a boy in a chicken suit rolls huge eggs over hopping cats made of crows, but the game simply isn't creative enough when finding things to do with the eggs.

Although the balance of the game is fun and easy, and the last boss is a pretty cool treat, there is a definite reliance on frustrating jumps to artificially create difficulty. I don't think these jumping puzzles were intended to be so hard, but thanks to a move I call the Ledge Ditch, you are going to die frequently and be bored even more frequently. The Ledge Ditch happens thusly: you bounce your egg to make a high jump, sending you spinning around the Y axis. Your egg reaches the ledge, but your rotation leaves you hanging over empty air. As a side effect of the spinning bounce move, you temporarily let go of your egg, i.e. you are now free falling into the pit, despite your egg's safe landing. Like I said, this happens so often that even if you don't die, you'll strand all the eggs in a section up where you can't reach them and have to wait for the game to respawn much as thirty seconds later. Not fun, and something that really should have been adjusted in playtesting.

I give it a weak recommendation. It can be fun, but only if you have a burninating desire to see the last boss. There's no real ending to speak of (since nobody is voice acted), but you do get a nice song over the credits. Peligro: that song will get stuck in your head.