Originally launching over a year ago as a free PlayStation Mini with PlayStation Plus, Hungry Giraffe is the latest game to make the jump from watered-down budget piece to fully-fledged PlayStation Vita title. But while we enjoyed Mr. Giraffe’s original outing, do the new features in this upgraded version warrant a re-purchase?
Mr. Giraffe is hungry, very hungry. So hungry in fact, that he needs your help to eat as much food as possible lest he get a little grumpy and throw a ‘Game Over' screen at you. Set out in a vertical scrolling fashion, you’re tasked with directing Hungry Giraffe’s gallivanting gob skywards, from jungle floor to the farthest reaches of the cosmos, munching down foodstuffs, while taking care to avoid anvils, dumbbells, and, er, prescription medication.
The pitch is simple: consuming cuisine sends Mr. Giraffe upwards, and, depending on what he eats, the boost he receives varies. If he doesn’t have enough momentum to carry him to the next morsel, Mr. Giraffe’s head will plummet downwards, forcing you to restart. The food in question varies from fruit to fast food, and, perhaps as some kind of metaphor, the less healthy the food is, the faster you’ll be sent towards the heavens.
As Mr. Giraffe continues his vertical quest for stomach superiority, you’ll spot a nice bit of game design. Rather than being forced to restart from scratch every time that you fail, Mr. Giraffe will unlock new stages as he voyages upwards. However, should you eventually plummet, the level selection screen will allow you to start afresh from any checkpoint that you pass, so Mr. Giraffe can resume his journey with a back drop of outer space (assuming he’s reached that height), rather than the jungle he started from.
Unfortunately, it’s not all burgers, chips, and trips to space that await Mr. Giraffe. On his way he must take care to avoid certain obstacles. Should he hit his head on an anvil, he’ll be forced back downwards, causing a mad dash for any nearby food that would allow him to rebuild the lost momentum. Consuming poison causes a violent explosion of multi-coloured bile that covers the screen, obscuring vision, while swallowing dumbbells will immediately drag Mr. Giraffe down. Despite this, though, the absolute worst items to eat are the pills. These have varying effects: they can turn the screen upside down, reverse controls, or flip the display horizontally, all the while wrestling control out of your hands.
Thankfully, Mr. Giraffe’s mission isn’t all in vain. Noshing on nourishment provides him with ‘calories’ that act as the game’s currency. It’s all standard fare with a shop that features a plethora of items ranging from one-use upgrades to more outrageously priced game changers like ‘poison immunity’. To put some of the prices into perspective, we managed to pull off an uninterrupted run all the way from stage one to half way through stage six (there are ten stages in total), and came away with 10,000 calories. Poison immunity costs 450,000 calories, so it’s clear that purchasing ‘calorie packs’ with real world money is the suggested way of acquiring such items.
Hungry Giraffe is clearly a product of a talented team’s passion. The cutesy visuals, adorable sound effects, and addictive gameplay are a joy to experience, and while it’s a shame that micro-transactions are present, the title’s such a bargain that you may not mind kicking the developer a little bit of extra cash.