A lot of games are best suited to be enjoyed at night. From the theatre stages of Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door to the glittering nebulae of Starfox adventures, there's something about having an evening sky out the window that makes these games click.
But night doesn't suit all games. So what would the perfect morning game look like? Easy: let me introduce everyone to Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. This game screams Saturday morning cartoon, not only in its storytelling but in its music, its childlike character design, and its colourful environments. Billy Hatcher is a third-person action-adventure by Team Sonic, all about a kid in a chicken suit, and, outside of a rare PC port, it never left the GameCube.
It's hard to explain what you do in Billy Hatcher without sounding odd, but trust me, rolling giant eggs around and trampling over enemies is surprisingly brilliant. Your egg is both a weapon and a means of getting about. The more you roll the egg, the bigger it grows, and while it may sound like a recipe for awkward controls, the game makes you feel surprisingly agile. You can defy the laws of physics in Billy Hatcher, bouncing with your egg high in the air and navigating complex levels at speed. Like most cartoon platform games you travel through the desert and across ice floes, but having an egg along for the ride makes a real difference.
The frantic nature of Billy Hatcher's gameplay and it's wacky sound effects that get etched into your brain, these things wake you up better than a cup of coffee and, again, that singalong music takes me back to a golden era of kids show's opening titles. Whilst the levels can be slightly glitchy and the secret villain of the game can be its camera angles, boss levels more than make up for it with their funky jazz music and their unique campy designs, which never take themselves too seriously. The first boss of the Dino Mountain level sees a dinosaur skeleton come to life with the cutest pink bow accessories, the whole thing being operated by a just-as-stylish mole, donning pink caveman attire, who goes by the name of Topo. The battle comes to an end with Billy taking advantage of Topo falling face first into the ground from the heights of their pet dinosaur and is just stupid child-like slapstick humour.
Unfortunately the game didn't sell well so Billy was doomed to little more than walk-ons in other things like the Sega's All Star Racing series. It's sad we didn't get more from the series, but I recommend living the morning glory days again by listening to the game's positively delightful soundtrack - which was recently released on Spotify.
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