A world of chickens is ravaged by crows and their home is put into an eternal night. Who will save their home? None other than a kid in a costume that gives him the power of eggs, that’s who!
“Billy Hatcher? Who’s that?”
For those who are unaware, Billy Hatcher is the main character of the titular game “Billy Hatcher and The Giant Egg,” which was released on the Nintendo Gamecube in the early 2000s (2003, to be precise). It was a 3D Platformer that I believe not many people talk about. Billy would make appearances in other SEGA-related games, such as SEGA All-Stars for the PS2 Eye Toy, a cameo in Sonic Rider’s “SEGA Park” stage, and was even a playable character in Sonic Rider’s Zero Gravity and Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing (Though stages from the game would appear in Transformed, Billy himself was not playable). So to give this game more attention, I’ll be talking about it as best as I can.
Right from the get-go, it’s clear that the game is a light-hearted 3D Platformer. Unfortunately for Billy, he can’t exactly jump that high. Makes sense, as he’s just a regular human. And that is where the gimmick comes in the form of the Legendary Chicken Suit. Blessed by the Chicken God Menie-Funie (Yes, this world does indeed have beings of higher power), the Chicken Suit that Billy wears gives him the power of eggs.
At first that sounds really pathetic. But you’d be surprised what a human-sized egg can do. The eggs allow him to move around the areas faster, get to higher parts of levels, and taking down the enemies of the game, the Crows. The crows can transform into various enemies and, while some can be taken down with one hit, some will require more than just rolling them over. When a Crow is defeated, they will leave behind a fruit inside of a bubble that the egg can absorb. As more fruit is collected, the egg will begin to get bigger, being able to do more damage to the enemy. But that’s not all! Once the egg is ready to hatch, Billy can let out a “Cock-a-doodle do!” to hatch the egg. The pattern of the egg will determine what contents lie within its exterior. It can be some power-ups, an extra life, power-downs or, my personal favorite, partners called “Egg Animals”.
The Egg Animals will assist Billy in his adventures through Morning Land, as he can command them to attack what’s in front of them. The Egg Animals range from a passionate rhino with wings and the power of fire, a penguin who has the powers of water and life, the list goes on. There are even certain Egg Animals that he can ride on. Though for the standard Egg Animals, they will disappear after being used a certain amount of times, so be careful. Some of the Egg Animals can allow Billy to get through certain obstacles, such as a button that needs to be pressed but is blocked by fire.
Honestly, I found the game really fun. The music was pleasant to the ears, the designs of the characters looked nice, and no two Egg Animals looked alike, even if they have similar ways of attacking the enemy. One of my favorite things to do is finding the games optional collectibles known as Chick Coins. These golden coins are found within each mission of a level, and there’s five total for each one. When Billy collects a certain amount, he’ll be able to use a type of egg what I dub the “SEGA Egg”. These eggs are easy to spot because they have a shiny exterior and have Sonic’s face on it. When hatch, they contain various characters from SEGA’s history, to which I won’t spoil because that would ruin the surprise.
Another thing I love of this game is the moves Billy can pull off with the eggs. He can perform an Egg Dash, launch the egg as the enemy as it rolls back to him, throw it from above to cause a little shockwave, to list a few. This, in turn, will help raise the score at the end of each mission, which will determine what grade Billy receives. (D – S)
Finally, one last thing to mention in this segment is some of the music. There are two songs in the soundtrack that I especially liked. One is the regular boss theme, and the second is the final boss theme. The bosses are usually fought in the second mission of each level, and Billy has to reach to a Dark Gate to fight them in. The bosses, known as Crow Bosses, are essentially the high-ranking members in the Crow forces, and each one has a different method of attacking, such as shrinking down in a large patch of grass to remain hidden, firing balls of water to jump into, etc. I would speak a bit more of the bosses, but it’s best for you to see it rather all of it to be explained.
Alright, as much as I love this game, I’m aware that it’s not perfect. There are some things in this game that are flawed, so I will a few. One of my problems with the game is that when Billy wants to reach higher platforms, he has to keep bouncing with the egg. Not too bad, but if he stops bouncing and he’s on the opposite end of the platform, he’ll simply let go of the egg. Though it’s not really a major problem, it would sound more like not positioning the hero correctly.
Another issue, however, is usually found within the first mission of each level. Every level begins with Billy having to wake up the Chicken Elders, chickens who call upon the morning of their respective homes. Once they’re out of the cage (Usually guarded by stronger Crows), he has to do the same process of releasing them from the golden prison. Doesn’t sound bad, right? But this is where the kicker comes in: If the egg gets hit even once, it will instantly break and Billy will lose a life, causing him to start at the last checkpoint. Thankfully, from my experiences, it’s right after the cage is broken, but I will admit that it gets kind of annoying that it breaks instantly. And making it bigger won’t help, either. Sure, Billy will be able to defeat more stronger enemies more easily, but this means that the egg is now a bigger target.
And honestly, that’s really all the problems that I can think of at the top of my head. I guess it’s because I really couldn’t find anymore things that rubbed me the wrong way or that I don’t have a critical eye when it comes to games. Either way, that’s all I can think of for this section.
Overall, Billy Hatcher still remains to be one of my all-time favorite games that, in all honesty, I wish was talked about more often. If I had to make a comparison, I’d have to say that this game would be comparable to Scaler, a game developed by Behaviour Interactive, in how it was a fun platformer all the way through, even if it did have one or two low points that didn’t really ruin the overall experience. In certain parts of the world, such as Europe or France, the game can even be played on PC. Though Billy would have only one game, he would make various appearances in future SEGA games, as stated above. Though if you’re looking to have yourself a fun platformer from start to finish, I’d say this game is right up your alley.