If it feels like I’ve glossed over the story, rest assured I haven’t. Sega treats the concept very similar to how platformers were dealt with 15 years ago, you’re given a hero to root for, kidnapped characters in need of your help, a set of basic attacks, a few goals, and you have yourself a game. Whether you find the game fun, however, is a whole different issue.
A lot of the problem with Billy Hatcher lies in the character himself. While most mascots seem to thrive on attitude, Billy is pretty subdued, and doesn’t really do anything you’ll remember after the game has ended. His whole identity seems to lie in the eggs he rolls around, Billy never seems to blossom into a character you want to devote much time to.
Instead of reminding me of the next Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega’s newest mascot is more along the lines of the next Alex Kidd. He’s the kind of guy you’d like to have next door to mow your lawn, the kind of honest guy that really doesn’t make for an interesting super hero. Instead of trying to make us laugh with one-liners, Sega hopes you’ll be humored by the whole absurdity of the concept.
The problem is, this concept isn’t all that original. Outside of the stupid costume and the pushing eggs around, there’s not a whole lot here that is new or unique. Even though there are quite a few missions, most of them involve either getting to the end of the course of collecting a lot of items.
Even the world Billy is stuck in is pretty dull. A lot of the locales tend to look like they’ve been recycled from other platformers, and the game never seems to develops its own sense of style. It’s not that the game looks bad, after all the colors are bright and the backgrounds are vibrant, it’s just that we’ve seen it all before, and it would have been nice to witness something truly new and original.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is how little the whole chicken aspect is used. It seemed like a title like this was ripe with potential when it came to chicken and farm related references, but Billy Hatcher is nothing more than a straightforward mascot game. Think of all the creative levels Sega could have come up with, but instead we get the basic snowy levels, lava-filled fire levels, carnival level, and so on. These are well-designed stages, no doubt about it, but they really could have been used for any character, not just one stuffed into a chicken costume.
Since you pick a mission before entering each level, you never really get to wander around and get a sense for the world. By putting the emphasis on the various goals, it really takes a lot of the wonder out just exploring, and makes the game far more linear than it was likely intended.
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