Interview: Chewing the Cud with Hungry Giraffe Developer Laughing Jackal

The news that Laughing Jackal’s excellent ungulate muncher Hungry Giraffe is stretching onto PlayStation Vita had our stomachs growling louder than a cake connoisseur in a posh coffee shop last week, so we just had to reach out to the Essex-based developer in order to grill them about the upcoming re-release. In between bites of cheeseburgers and French fries, we exchanged words with community manager Ross Brierley, who touched upon Mecha Giraffes, microtransactions, and bowls of delicious ramen.

Hungry Giraffe 1

Push Square: You’ve already released Hungry Giraffe on PlayStation Minis and PlayStation Mobile. Why have you decided to bring it to Vita?

Ross Brierley: I think it’s natural for any developer to try and make their games available on as many formats as possible. After finishing the Minis version, the primary motivation for the PlayStation Mobile release was so that we could be one of the first to have a title on Sony’s exciting new platform. As with most games, there are always loads of game features that we wanted to but couldn’t include in the original versions, so ultimately we decided that a fully featured version on the Vita was the way to go. The Vita offered us so many more possibilities that it would have been a wasted opportunity not to adapt the game for the handheld and be able to add the features we really wanted.

In our opinion the new Vita release is by far the best version of Hungry Giraffe available – but then we would say that. There’s more Vita content for the game already being planned by the Laughing Jackal team.

Hungry Giraffe 2

PS: The re-release boasts a number of new features. Is there anything in particular that you’re excited about?

RB: I would have to say, the leaderboards! I’ve always enjoyed seeing exactly how well people are doing on our games and I remember back when Cubixx HD was first released I used to regularly check if anyone had beaten my score. From a player’s perspective, leaderboards really add so much to any score chasing game and they’re definitely the perfect addition to Hungry Giraffe.

PS: Could you talk a little more about the new ‘Store’ feature? Can we expect microtransactions in the game?

RB: As you might expect, the Store allows players to purchase loads of in-game items and upgrades such as extra Hard Hats, Angel Feathers, buffs for power-ups, and items that nerf the hazards. All of this stuff can be purchased using the in-game currency of Calories. You’ll also be able to use your Calories to buy new skins and unlock levels through the Store. Yes, you will be able to buy Calorie Packs via microtransactions, but we also let you earn Calories in-game by doing what every giraffe loves best, and that’s scoffing food.

Hungry Giraffe 3

PS: How did you come up with the new character skins?

RB: We always planned to introduce some other animals into the game – after all, we wouldn’t want our giraffe to get lonely. The snake and the emu came about for fairly obvious gameplay reasons in that they met the requirements in the ‘neck’ department. Ok, so the reindeer doesn’t quite fit that pattern but since the game was made in the run up to Christmas, our artists thought we should enter into the festive spirit. As for the Mecha Giraffe, well, who wouldn’t want a Mecha Giraffe?

PS: How does the new Angel Feather power-up change the game?

RB: The Angel Feathers are a great addition to the title, especially to newcomers. They were designed to give our friendly giraffe a little boost skywards when he can’t reach any grub and he’s in danger of falling. The feathers don’t have quite the same oomph as the Hard Hats and Chillies, though, so they should be used sparingly. You can’t pick up extras in-game, so once you’ve spent them, they’re gone – although you can purchase more in the Store.

Hungry Giraffe 4

PS: Where did the idea for Hungry Giraffe come from in the first place?

RB: Initially, Hungry Giraffe was one of three Minis concepts that our creative team were working on. Our aim was to design new game ideas that would work just as well on mobile as they would on a handheld. The other concepts were the mighty OMG-Z and Orbit.

For Hungry Giraffe we really wanted to take on the highly addictive endless climbing genre, and, of course, add a few of our own unique twists and turns on the way. We looked at lot of different game mechanics and decided that a giraffe was an obvious choice for our lead character. There didn’t seem to be any better motivation for him to be climbing than filling his face with all manner of goodies, and so the concept was born!

PS: If you were a hungry giraffe, what would be your snack of choice?

RB: Tough one. I’ve always been a fan of Japanese noodle dishes, so perhaps some nice big bowls of ramen floating in the sky would encourage me to stretch my neck out.

Hungry Giraffe is set to chomp its way onto PlayStation Vita later this year. Are you excited about the re-release? Let us know in the comments section below.