It starts like any good children’s story: Echo the Gecko has a stumpy club of a tail, and he’s the babysitter for swarms of tiny creatures called hatchlings. Also like a children’s story, Hatchlings lasts well under an hour all the way through.
Hatchlings is a Match-3 puzzle game with fairly conventional mechanics. By knocking into a row of critters, Echo can line up three of the same type and make them disappear off the grid. You can only move hatchlings left or right, like in Aurora Feint, and the goal is to fill up a bar in the shape of a particular set of hatchlings.
Once you accomplish this task, you’ll encounter a bonus round of sorts where you have to fulfill specific mission objectives, like forming a row of four or five hatchlings instead of the usual three. These can get very tricky later in the game, as you’ll have to create long combos or match the hatchlings in a specific order.
Then, just as things start to heat up, the game ends. We would have liked to keep playing beyond the 18 levels, which will last about an hour the first time through. While topping OpenFeint’s leaderboards are a decent goal for some players, we would have preferred a longer campaign and additional gameplay modes.
In the end, it’s only Hatchlings’ personality that makes this game worthwhile. The familiar gameplay mechanics and lack of extra modes are very limiting factors, even though the cheerful music and colorful graphics are goofy and entertaining. For just a dollar or two, Hatchlings is a quick distraction, but it’s about as shallow as a tide pool.