You might not have believed that Core design could produce anything that was comparable to Lara Croft on the 'excellence and genius front', but they have almost matched it - Herdy Gerdy is quite simply a title with amazing game play, serious challenges, fluffy endearing characters and superb graphics that even the studios of Pixar or Disney would envy.
So describing it as a fantasy game featuring a hero more in common with a collie than anything else, might not be the best way to sell it, but if you can herd like a One man and his dog champion, you'll be a winner.
Herdy, our hero, has to make it to the herding tournament to win the first acorn back from the Evil Sadorf to save the land, and that's really all there is to the plot. You navigate 36 different levels collecting bells and herding an odd assortment of animals to progress. The opening level is deceptively easy and its possible to be lulled into a fall sense of security that you might be able to stop before 5 a.m. Herdy Gerdy is the epitome of an addictive game.
Levels vary, each environment is different yet beautifully crafted. A later scene such as Foxtown requires you to play in an apprehensive fashion, as there's some highly intimidating guards to avoid. Other levels such as The Lost Bear are darkly lit and it's difficult to know quite where you are going. For the most part though you have a fully explorable lush and gorgeous landscape to roam, but like any good sheepdog you cant resists rustling the creatures on the way.
Those to be herded are the weirdly named animal inhabitants of this land, Doops, Honks, Honklings Bleeps, Blurps and those to herd with caution Gromps (pink fluffy and ferocious) and Grimps (small black and ferocious). A Gromp at full pelt grumbling towards you would strike terror into the heart of any novice shepherd. Each level requires a percentage of the animal population to be herded into specific enclosures, and some are far easier to ferry to their destination than others. Herding is a skill to be taken seriously.
Herdy's quest to the tournament sees a number of mazes, quizzes and challenges to win special items that will aid you in your travels. Since spending an hour leaping up and down trying to climb a ladder it might be handy to pass on that special items help with key skills, like the feather for climbing. The magic flute can lull things to sleep, the swimming costume lets you swim reaching bells impossibly out of your reach in the water before. You might not to be able to complete a level the first time round, the non-linear format of returning to earlier levels extends the game play even further and is a rather refreshing change.
After acquiring a few herding strategies such as sorting the Gromps out into their pens before worrying about the poulty-esque Doops the huge size of this game still leaves much to conquest. Herding can be a little repetitive but that's more of an impulse to get good at it and shoot up to the next level.
On successfully reaching and completing the tournament (split into 3 rounds) you can then use all your new special items to revisit the levels. Collect all the bells and then unlock the extras that are available on the first options menu to reveal there is even more on that CD than the game itself.
Series after series of blood oozing violent dark titles are flooding the market at the moment, and you might miss the pleasurable amiable titles. Here is a game that uses a lot of the PS2's capabilities and upgrades the cutesy fluff game to a standard you would not have believed possible. One of the more captivating games around at the moment - as long as you stick with it and play it through to the end.Overall score: 7 out of 10
Recommended Price: £34.99
Available: NowBuy Herdy Gerdy for the PS2 from Amazon