Game Reviews

We Review: Hungry Giraffe

Hungry Giraffe, a new PlayStation Minis game from Laughing Jackal games, sees you taking control of the titular character as you make your way ever upward, gobbling all sorts of things as you go along. We rode the giraffe skyward to see what this game was all about.

A recent sub-genre of the platform game genre—one that essentially involves a series of neverending vertical platforms—has become rather popular of late. I’m not sure where the genre started, but I do know that it was popularized by the iOS game, Doodle Jump. Doodle Jump’s popularity ensured a series of clones to a greater or lesser degree, and while Hungry Giraffe isn’t a technically a Doodle Jump clone, it is still part of the same genre.

In Hungry Giraffe, you control a hungry giraffe (you were expecting something else?) with an ever-extensible neck as you attempt to lead the famished ungulate to piles of fruit and food, whilst avoiding the things that are bad for you. Surprisingly, the “things that are bad for you” are not the fries and tacos and burgers you might have expected, but rather the anvils, dumbbells, pills, and bottles of a curious liquid that makes our spotty friend disgorge artistically-colored blobs all over the screen.

Along with all these objects, there are also two very helpful things that the hungry one can encounter: chilli peppers that make the giraffe breathe fire (allowing him to rocket upwards), and hardhats that, for some reason, also give you a lift. The hardhats are great because you can stock up to three of them and save them for when times are hard and foods are few. If you stop eating food, the giraffe’s head falls. Hit the bottom of the screen and it’s game over.

In all, Hungry Giraffe has ten levels for you to play through, and once you’ve achieved a level, you can always go back and replay it. The levels recycle after level 10, so if you’re skilled enough, you can go around and around and around again endlessly. You’d have to be dedicated to be that good, however, since the game gets difficult quickly.

The nice thing about it is that you never feel as if the game is unfairly difficult; any troubles you run into are purely due to your own ineptitude. I must admit that the game is insanely cute, from the graphics, to the noises that the famished animal makes, to the music. It’s all quite endearing, really. It’s incredibly addictive, too. I dare you to play “just one round” of this! Hungry Giraffe is great for those times when you’ve come down from a heavy session of brain-intensive, nimble-fingered gaming, and need something to cool down with. Heck, it’s great for days when you’ve had a really really ridiculous day at work and need something relatively light on brainwork to just get back to your happy place. The cute helps.

On the other hand, the game has a few very minor flaws, the one being that the responsiveness to the controller at the menu is a little laggy. It sometimes takes two or three button presses before the game starts up again, allowing me to lead the giraffe in another munching spree. I feel it’d be easier to get back into the action at the end of the game with a “Retry” option instead of being kicked back to the main menu, but this is such a minor niggle that it’s hardly worth mentioning. The other very minor issue is that, although it’s PS3 and PSP compatible, the game isn’t yet compatible with the PS Vita, but one can only hope that this is just a matter of time.

My closing feeling is that this is one of those games that you pick up and play with when you need something to do while thinking about other things, or when you need to relax. It’s quick, easy to get into, easy to put down afterwards, and great for killing some time. The capacity for addictiveness is almost distressingly huge, and the game also includes a set of mini-achievements (that aren’t linked to your main trophy set) that you can work towards. I’ve mentioned before that it’s my feeling that the smaller dev studios with smaller games are releasing better games than the larger studios with their infinite budgets, and Hungry Giraffe is yet more proof of this. All in all, it’s one excellent purchase.

Final Score: 8 really famished prawns out of 10

Detailed information:
Developer: Laughing Jackal Games
Distributor: Sony Entertainment Network
Platform: PS3, PSP
Download size: 21Mb
RRP: R33
Age Rating: 3

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