Hungry Giraffe (PlayStation Minis) Review—Insatiable

This review originally appeared on back on February 28, 2012. Read my Postmortem about that website, soon.

There are lots of free Flash-based browser games that have similar gameplay elements to Hungry Giraffe’s. The core gameplay of this Mini is reminiscent of runners like I Must Run! and One Epic Game, only in this game you shoot up vertically. Such gameplay is broadly categorized under the “launch” genre, but to be specific, this game is much more “climb/jump/fly-to-the-sky,” like Mountaineer.  I believe this genre was pioneered by Ice Climber, but of course, there may be a game Ice Climber was inspired from, so feel free to correct my error. It’s just that I am young.

Enough about me, and back to the game. It’s insulting to Laughing Jackal to juxtapose their latest Mini offering with those free Flash-based browser games. Hungry Giraffe is a very polished game worthy of a premium. Yes, games like this have been done before, but never in my gaming life have I seen a game elevate a genre like how Hungry Giraffe has done.

Games like these usually feature a person jumping to the sky getting “fuel” items along the way to keep on going up. These items could be anything like a cloud or bird to jump on, or fuel itself (if the character is using a jetpack or similar gadget.) In Hungry Giraffe, as the title strongly suggests, you control a hungry giraffe.

The game title could easily be “Starving Giraffe,” or “Gluttonous Giraffe.” This particular giraffe is not easily satiated. It stretches its neck to chomp on floating fruits, fast food menu regulars, and anvils and dumbbells.

You control the neck by using the analog nub, and you must keep on collecting foods in order to continue playing the level. As long as you keep on stretching up, you’re going to pile up hefty amounts of score.

Aside from keeping the giraffe in line with the calorie sources, you also have to keep an eye out for obstacles like pills, dumbbells and anvils. Just like real life, when you take pills, you’ll get high, and the PSP screen will get full of colored veneer. There is also this chemical that makes the giraffe nauseous and throw up on your screen, blocking your view. Anvils and dumbbells are detrimental to the giraffe; you can protect yourself by using hard hats (by pressing X).

If you did not get the core gameplay yet: as soon as your head touches the bottom of the screen, it’s Game Over. You can basically blast through all of the levels at once, unlocking each and every level of atmosphere until you hit outer space and beyond, because upon failure, you can either opt to go back to Stage 1 or continue from the level you failed.

The upbeat soundtrack delightfully complements the blissful graphics. Everything about Hungry Giraffe screams happiness. Yeah, the premise may be shallow, silly and inane, but it’s the ridiculousness that provides Hungry Giraffe most of its charm. Perfect controls help a lot too.

What I love most about this game is the achievement system, as it keeps you holding onto the game more than you ought to. The achievement system is not as amazing as that in Aquattack!, but it’s more than decent. This Mini is too addictive to put down. In fact, in just one gaming session, I logged four hours. FOUR HOURS. You can always play this game in spurts, three minutes at a time (which I definitely doubt would actually happen; you’d extend that into twenty minutes for sure.) But, this game has The Longevity. Just like love, you’ll play this game again and again and again until it hurts.

Indeed, it is irreducible to mere text to describe how I enjoy this game. I won’t deny that it is not the most complex game and not the deepest in terms of gameplay. But, I’ve enjoyed playing it a lot even if it is simple.

Hungry Giraffe is definitely worth every cent. Just like Trailblazer, this could have been a full PSN game for all of its potential (admittedly, the Minis program has restrictions that hold back the game). PS Plus subscribers got it free, but most unfairly, ahead of everyone else. But it doesn’t matter now; Hungry Giraffe should be purchased by everyone who loves good games.

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