Inside Pulse 12

Review: Hungry Giraffe (Sony Playstation 3/PSP)

Hungry Giraffe
Publisher: Laughing Jackal
Developer: Laughing Jackal
Genre: Action
Release Date: 02/07/2012

With all of the PC games I’ve been reviewing as of late, my Mini coverage has been lacking. I haven’t reviewed one in a few months, which is a decent sized gap. Oddly enough, the last game I covered, Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, was made by the same developers as Hungry Giraffe. I like these guys, so I was more than willing to give this quirky looking title a shot.

Hungry Giraffe is like what would happen if one of those simple flash games you see everywhere got the full game treatment. Everything has been taken to the next level, and this is one of the more interesting Minis I’ve played in a while.

There’s one thing I can say for certain. The developers did not lie when they said this was the single greatest giraffe feeding game of all time.

Modes

The only real game mode in Hungry Giraffe is “Feed Me”. This is about as straight up a mode you can find. There are ten selectable levels to choose from, though the latter nine are locked until you reach them in the game. These have various patterns, and loop endlessly, so a skilled player could play indefinitely. Being able to select your starting point is certainly helpful, as you can formulate plans for tricky areas. Even though layouts are random, certain patterns show up every time.

There are some other things of note. The game keeps track of everything you’ve eaten throughout, and your top score is recorded so it can be bested. There is also a trophy system in place, giving you rewards for reaching various milestones. These things aren’t necessary, but certainly show that some love was put into the game.

While there isn’t a lot of content to sift through, you’ll find plenty for a Mini. The stat tracking, trophies, and level select certainly put this game above the riff raff.

Graphics

This is a pretty simple looking game. It’s pretty much just a giraffe reaching towards the heavens and gulping down various edibles and inedibles. The giraffe himself is very cartoonish, with a neck that can expand to the heavens, and can twist and turn like crazy when things go bad. The food he eats is recognizable, but not particularly great to look at.

There are some effects in the game, when certain objects are eaten. My favorite is a psychedelic trip that the giraffe goes on after eating a strange pill. The mix of colors is pretty cool to look at, even as your wrestling with the reversed controls that goes along with it. There’s a likewise fun looking animation when he eats a chili pepper.

The backgrounds are strong as well. Though simple in design, they still look great thanks to smart coloring. Working your way through the jungle tops to the clouds and finally to the stratosphere is very satisfying. It’s almost like playing through a water color.

It may not be a very complex looking game, but it’s still pleasant to look at, which I can’t say about all of the Minis I’ve played.

Audio

Hungry Giraffe is surprisingly musically inclined. The tunes are nice lackadaisical pieces that keep your spirits up as you move towards the heavens. Cute is pretty much the only word to describe it. I’d play them as a lullaby for a baby, if that tells you anything.

The effects are as simple as always, but effective. The giraffe makes the same couple of noises whilst eating, but it doesn’t get annoying. Again, the best word to describe the sounds is cute. There’s a nice whistle when you eat a pepper, and the ringing when you bump an anvil is probably my favorite sound effect of the year so far. You almost wince with pain yourself.

There’s not much to talk about – this is a Mini, after all. However, the game still works quite well from an auditory standpoint. I never considered turning the sound off, which is rare for a Mini.

Gameplay

The goal of the game is to propel yourself forward by eating various foods. Each edible gives you a different amount of boost, and you need to chain food together to keep your momentum going. Small fruits give you a little boost, while junk food is what really gets the giraffe going.

The controls are very simple. You need merely steer the giraffe with the analog nub. You can only go left and right, and it’s actually fun to snake your way through obstacles to get that hard to reach burger. The only other control involves pressing X to activate a hard hat. I’ll get to that in a second.

There are a number of special items in the game, most of which harm you in some way. For example, there is a bottle that causes you to vomit. This throws a splash of color on the screen, making it hard to see. This will also eject any special items you may already have. Chili peppers send you skyrocketing into the air with a temporary invincibility. Hard hats do the same, though you can store them for later. There are weights that slow you down, and those control reversing pills as I mentioned earlier.

Anvils represent the sole obstacle in the game. Bumping into these stops you cold, and sends you on your descent. You have a limited amount of time to try and grab whatever food/items you can to try and propel yourself upwards again. If you fall too far, then the game is over.

There isn’t much to this game, but the various patterns keep things interesting. There’s a definite risk/reward aspect as well. The best foodstuffs and items are usually over in an isolated area, or are guarded by anvils. Since the game goes until you lose, it’s also very likely to get you in a zen mode. You play continuously, which was the best way to go.

Overall, I enjoy what the game does. It keeps things simple and controls quite well. It could have used a little more variety. You do see everything the game has to throw at you early on. However, it still manages to be fun, especially as you try to rack up a new best score.

Replayability

This isn’t the kind of game to have a proper ending. You’re meant to focus first on unlocking all of the stages, then on reaching new and greater heights. There’s only one mode in the game, though the level select is much appreciated. I can certainly see this game getting old if you had to play from the first stage every time.

Minis are designed to be played in short bursts. Hungry Giraffe definitely fits that bill. If you’re into improving your top score, it can keep you coming back for more. That’s not too bad for a game with only one mode.

Balance

There’s a definite learning curve to the game. My first few attempts were pathetic, and the later stages proved difficult. However, once you get the hang of things, getting an extended game going is pretty easy and satisfying.

The trick is in properly managing your hard hats. You never know when you might slip up and hit an anvil. Often, there won’t be enough food around to get you going back up. In these cases, the hat will keep you going. Avoiding the pills and bottles are therefore very important. Most of that learning curve is in getting your reflexes to where they need to be.

Thanks to simple design, the game is easy to play. The challenge is in pushing yourself to a new score, and the twisting, anvil-laden levels will definitely put up a fight.

Originality

There’s a reason it is so easy to compare this to a flash game. Chances are you’ve played/seen this kind of thing all over the place. This game does add more depth than those titles, and there are plenty of bells and whistles. However, that doesn’t mean the game is original.

Granted, there aren’t enough games on the market that let you play as a giraffe. Pokemon doesn’t count. That abomination known as Girafarig has no place in this world.

Addictiveness

Once you get past that learning curve, it is surprisingly easy to find yourself playing this game for extended periods of time. I found I could keep a game going for a good twenty minutes when I got better, and I can only imagine how long a truly dedicated player could last. The simplicity does the game a great service in this regard. It’s very easy to keep playing.

I usually delete a Mini after I’ve worked my way through it. My PSP’s memory stick is appallingly small. As such, I mark how much I like a Mini by how long I keep it on my PSP. I can easily see this one lasting quite some time and becoming one of my go to games when I’m looking for a quick fix.

Appeal Factor

Playstation Plus subscribers get this game for free. There’s no excuse for not giving it a shot if you’re one of those people. For the rest of us, the game is a mere two and a half dollars. True, I can see this ending up on iOS for a buck, but certain sacrifices need to be made to get this thing on a Sony system.

I will say the game is worth every penny, especially to those who like games that keep it simple. You get what you pay for with Hungry Giraffe, and the low barrier to entry should help it find a decent audience.

Those looking for a good giraffe feeding game should certainly look no further.

Miscellaneous

This is one of those games that exemplify what a Mini should be. It’s all about the gameplay, but offers enough extra to keep things interesting. While some more modes couldn’t have hurt, the game didn’t really need them.

And yes, I really did have the Toys R Us theme playing in my head the entire time I was writing this review.

The Scores
Modes: Above Average
Graphics: Enjoyable
Audio: Good
Gameplay: Enjoyable
Replayability: Decent
Balance: Enjoyable
Originality: Very Poor
Addictiveness: Good
Appeal Factor: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Enjoyable
Final Score: Above Average Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Hungry Giraffe is a fun Mini that keeps things simple and does so to great effect. It manages to be fun, addicting, and puts you in an almost zen like state. The lack of depth does nothing to deter the game, and the fun presentation puts it head and shoulders above its flash game forebears. If you’re looking for a cheap time killer, this can certainly be a prime candidate. The giraffe may be insatiable, but you’ll definitely get what you pay for.

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