Welcome to the new year, everybody. Yes, it’s been about a month or two since I’ve posted an actual analysis, but I promise, it’s just me getting back into the swing of things after a slight rest of the mind. I don’t want to fry myself and all my ideas, now do I? However, this year looks to be very promising for games. Last year, big games seemed to be very sparse. The AAA games came out broken, the indies took the spotlight of creating beautifully-crafted experiences, and Nintendo did their own, successful thing, as usual. This year looks to have a load of good games coming up, and I’d like to explain from time to time why I’m looking forward to them. Today, we’re starting off with Gears for Breakfast’s love letter to the N64 known as A Hat in Time.
Starting out on Kickstarter with a goal of $30,000 in June of 2013, Gears for Breakfast saw the game’s funding doubled in just two days, and managed to raise nearly 10 times the original goal by the end of the campaign. Stretch goals were reached to the point that they couldn’t add any more because of the boatload of money they were receiving (all stretch goals from here on will be marked with an asterisk*). From there, they’ve been able to go into an Alpha build that is purchasable via their website.
So what’s up with this game? Why do so many people want it to happen? If you grew up with games such as Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, then you’ll see right away what’s so enticing about what these guys promise. It’s been ages since a collect-a-thon game has been released. You know the ones that “plagued” the N64 and PlayStation 1. Big worlds, lots of wacky characters, and lots of random chaos ensuing. So many different objects and stuff to discover just by exploring or by helping the citizens of the location with their meaningless tasks. Just thinking about it brings back a sense of wonder and adventure that many of us remember from our childhoods. That sense of amazement is what Gears for Breakfast is promising.
A Hat in Time is a 3D platformer looking to revive the lost magic from an era of collect-a-thons that has seemingly died out. Featuring a main character named Hat Kid, your job is to stop the nefarious Mustache Girl from collecting the Time Pieces scattered around the universe. Your travels will take you from a seaside, Mafia-run town to a dark, scary forest, and many more places. Hat Kid’s adventure is a crazy one that hearkens right back to the days of Mumbo’s Mountain and Whomp’s Fortress. There are even some bonus levels that emulate the platforming challenges of Super Mario Sunshine. In addition, you’ll meet a wide variety of characters from mob bosses to scary witches to the CEO of Time, itself. The game will be fully voice acted*, and will even have the voice mumble feature* similar to in Banjo-Kazooie. It just wouldn’t feel like a collect-a-thon without a man’s grumbles and mumbles as we read what he has to say.
Normal movement like jumping and running will be accompanied my moves such as wall jumping and hook grappling and swinging, opening a range of movement and exploration to the player. Exploration is key to finding new people and sidequests. With seven* whole chapters to venture through, you’ll have a lot to find. Luckily, Hat Kid doesn’t stay the same throughout the whole game. Abilities, powers, and new hats can be unlocked to give Hat Kid even more to do, as well as equip badges to give her unique powers.
Something I really should not have held off until now was the presentation of the game itself. You can probably tell from the screenshots, but this game is gorgeous. Run off of the Unreal Engine, Gears for Breakfast has managed to make a game that incorporates the fun of the N64 days with the look of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker‘s cel-shaded art style. It looks fantastic and works beautifully in the context of any of the worlds, from the bright Mafia Town to the dark tones of Subcon Forest. Equally as breathtaking is the soundtrack of the game. From what’s been released, Pascal Michael Stiefel knows what he is doing, and I reminisce in these tunes that bring me back to the old platforming days. However, what is noteworthy is that Grant Kirkhope, composer of such classics as Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, is on board to compose 7 songs* for the game, including Hat Kid’s Spaceship theme (which can be heard here). I simply can’t wait to stop and just look at the game and hear its beautiful soundtrack.
To hear some of the soundtrack, go to oddMLan’s Youtube channel here. Personal favorite song is the Mafia Town theme.
Also being included are a New Game + mode, though the details of it remain unknown, and a multiplayer mode. Playing as Hat Kid or Mustache Girl with a friend locally in split-screen or online will make for some chaotic fun. And while the Windows and Mac versions are the priority as of right now, Gears for Breakfast has been in talks to get the game onto Wii U, with plans for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One possibly following.
A Hat in Time looks, to me, like a game that has been a long time coming. Ever since the N64 era passed, collect-a-thons have been nonexistent. However, this game seems to be bringing back that nostalgia and adventure that we treasured years ago. From the graphics to the music to the gameplay and world itself, I have yet to find many games that can get me this excited. Gears for Breakfast is taking their time with the game, but I hope to see it released by the end of the year. If you’re interested in supporting them, you can pre-order the game, as well as upgrade to receive the Alpha and Beta builds of the game from their website (found here). I simply cannot wait for this game.