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Grimm's Hatchery

Score: 77%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Amaranth Games
Developer: Amaranth Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Grimmís Hatchery greets you with quaint medieval settings set in cheery pastel tones. There are several characters you can speak with scattered throughout the different areas. It all made me a bit nostaligic as it reminded of the detailed, illustrated style of older adventure games. Overall, the style feels warm and cheery, which is refreshing.

The focus of the game, as the title suggests, is on the pets. They are cute, but compared to the semi-realistic human characters in the game, they are very cartoonish and simple. You donít have much time to look at them during gameplay either way. As such, I would have liked to see some detailed illustrations available in one of the menus at least - a pet gallery if you will. I also would have liked to see more animations from the pets in general. They only have ďwalkingĒ animations, and special states like hunger are represented by a thought bubble floating overhead. Itís just a bit frustrating to be greeted by rich, illustrated backgrounds, and not have that extend to the main focus of the game.

A quaint medieval soundtrack accompanies the farm areas as well as the towns. It consists of some simple flute and drum melodies, but it does sound fairly authentic. Again it hints at a deeper world, but Grimmís Hatchery, in many areas, keeps things short and sweet.


Gameplay:

Grimmís Hatchery has a simple, light story. You are a prince (or perhaps a princess), kicked out of your motherís castle by way of your stepfatherís will. You are, however, offered a chance to reclaim your rightful place. Youíll take back your position in the castle if you earn 300,000 gold within a specified time limit. The narrative gave me a vibe that this game would be brimming with clever dialogue and story development. But alas, there is no development between what happens during the opening scene and the ending scene. As for dialogue, the characters you meet have a few lines for you at the most. I can say I enjoyed what dialogue and story the game did offer.

Grimmís Hatchery gives you a simple task: make money. To accomplish this you raise pets, collect their eggs, and create new hybrid pets. Youíll need to make choices like whether to hatch eggs or sell them, to keep your pets or sell them, and so on. Somehow you need to keep your profit high enough to earn enough for food, medicine, new pets, and upgrades to your weapons. Buying better pets and items enables you to make more money, and the cycle basically continues until you earn enough to buy back your place in the castle. You also have to be aggressive enough to meet your 300,000 gold goal within 80 in-game days (or fewer depending on the difficulty level).

The heart of the game could be considered the time you spend on the farm. This is only part of the game that causes time to pass. Basically your pets run around in a pasture, and you point and click to pick up eggs and to fight off dangerous monsters. This is done during a minute long timer (it gets a bit longer as you progress through the game) and when it finishes, a day passes. There is a basic strategy to this pet-farming portion of the game: fight monsters and feed your pets to keep as many as possible alive and pick up as many eggs as possible. Again, this cycle continues until the end of the game.


Difficulty:

Itís nothing complicated, but you do have to make certain strategic decisions to advance in Grimmís Hatchery. But once you have your basic routine down, this game is just repetition in its purest. It also helps to play through one time so you know what you need to save up for and how to pace yourself. One of the things that make this game difficult is the chance of hatching eggs to create pets: itís random. But as Iíll explain, there are some exploits that will make the strategic part of the game a little less important.

A couple of general exploits make Grimmís Hatchery a bit easier if youíre having financial trouble. First, when you visit towns, youíll sometimes find money or pet food on the ground. Going back and forth between towns does not waste a ďdayĒ in the game. The thing is, if you keep going back and forth between towns, pet food and money will randomly appear again, no matter how many times you collect it. If you wanted to, you could sit there clicking back and forth and picking up money and pet food until you have as much as you need. This is quite repetitive and boring to do for a long time, but it can at least help out during the early stages of the game. Another exploit is not really an in-game exploit, but itís difficult not to take advantage of. Youíll find itís very easy to save your game and load it again if you make a mistake, or if the random effects in the game ruined your day. For example, because the egg-hatching in the game is based on chance, sometimes youíll have dozens of eggs incubated but never hatched. The simple solution is, if you have a bad run, reload and try hatching the eggs again. The obsessive extension of this - save before incubating each and every egg and reload to ensure that every egg hatches.

Thereís nothing wrong with using saves to help you win a game, but it just felt like I was saving and reloading so much it became part of the game instead of a convenience. The same goes for the ďfree foodĒ exploit. Sure, I can be a purist and take whatís thrown at me, but why bother if the game doesnít enforce this? Either way, if easy saves were taken out of the game, the difficulty would increase dramatically.


Game Mechanics:

Grimmís Hatchery will test your pointing and clicking skills, but not much else. The control scheme works fine and allows the player to finish the game and complete its goals without too much difficulty. Sometimes I felt a little frustrated with the cursors. It just felt like the cursor would not change from a pointer to a hand when I wanted it to, but this is a minor personal preference, and I adapted to it quite easily. Itís not as if Grimmís Hatchery is a precision shooter game, itís simple point-and-click madness. If it aimed to be anything else, then there would be more room for criticism.

Grimmís Hatchery is great as an addictive diversion. It seems to be aimed at pleasing a younger crowd without alienating older players. It has a charming atmosphere and simple concept. Donít go in expecting a sophisticated pet-raising simulation, or an involving storyline, and you might end up enjoying it for what it is.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:



Win 98/2000, 256 MB Ram, 17.7 MB free space, DirectX version 8.0, Max Resolution: 1024X768 32 bits
 

Test System:



Windows XP SP2, 1022 MB Ram, 38.4 GB free space, DirectX version 9.0, Max Resolution: 1280x1024 32 bits

Windows Clint: Urban Rivals Windows Cake Mania

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated