Raising Big Poppa Pump hasn't been easy. He gets hungry at weird times and doesn't sleep through the night. He also isn't the cleanest pocket monster I've ever owned. But I have a feeling that all this time spent grooming, teaching, and playing with him will lead to something truly rewarding. I'm talking about evolution, man -- an incredible change that takes place because I've proved that I'm an awesome owner.
Big Poppa Pump is my little monster dude in Hatchi, Portable Pixel's game for those of us who remember the Tamagotchi so fondly. The two games -- and I use that loosely -- are pretty similar. You hatch an egg that contains a monster, and then that monster becomes your digital pet. As an owner, you'll be responsible for feeding, cleaning, entertaining and even applying first-aid to the little one.
Functionally, this is all really simple to do. If your monster's "smarts" bar is low, and his energy is high enough for an activity, you click the book button to raise it. If his "hygiene" is low, you hit the baby button to give it a bath. If his energy is low, or if you just want a break, you can hit the lights and that puts him to sleep.
The sleep mechanic rolls in a little save state trickery, by the way. When you put a Hatchi down and exit out of the app, upon returning you'll notice a slight visual hitch and then magically see the energy bar fill according to the amount of time he's been doing the bed thing. My experience with this varies; sometimes Big Poppa Pump needs hours of rest, sometimes just dozens of minutes.
Most of my day with Big Poppa Pump isn't spent doing anything thrilling, complex or even all that fun, which is why I hesitate to call this a game-game. In the mornings, I wake him up and grind until his needs are all completely met. I continue to do this through the afternoon until he gets too tired and needs that big nap. At night, I try to tire him out so he doesn't wake up angry, unclean, and unsatisfied at 2AM.
My greatest fear as an owner is that he'll die in the night, which is something that can happen. "Yes, it can die if you don't look after it," Portable Pixels tells us. "It will get sick first and you can use the first aid to cure Hatchi."
It's hilarious, but I really, really, really don't want Big Poppa Pump to bite the dust. I've somehow bonded with the thing, as silly as that sounds, and the competitive part of my brain wants to see an evolution based on my meticulous play.
Big Poppa Pump isn't evolving as fast as I'd want it to for our preview coverage, so I asked Playable Pixels how it works. "You'll need to feed, clean, play with and generally look after your pet to ensure it grows up," it tells us. "[Pets have] several different forms they can evolve into depending on how you look after them."
That's as much detail as we're getting at the moment, but as you'll see in the article, there are some pretty hip forms. Big Poppa Pump is getting a lot more exercise than he needs, so here's to hoping that he evolves into a gigantic muscle monster.
That's the experience as it stands now -- train, wait, train, wait some more, and then receive some sort of evolution. In the future, though, Playable Pixels hopes to add a lot more content, including a social component, if sales are good.
"Initially its a retro theme, but we've had lots of ideas about bringing it into the mobile era. Taking him on day trips for example, or socializing with your friends Hatchis," it tells us.
"One of our beta testers said she would give her left arm for a graveyard for all her past Hatchi's, and one of our developers wants a defibrillator. Its really a side project inspired by a reddit post back in September."
Portable Pixels says its been "fairly overwhelmed by the response" so far. In an effort to keep up with it, its set up an e-mail address for people to be notified when the game is hitting and for feedback purposes. That address, if you'd like to get in on this, is: email@example.com.
Currently, the game is on track for a January 15th release at $.99 for iPhone and iPod Touch. A Universal version isn't slated to happen yet, but it could if "the need is great enough."
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